“The root of an unmortified course is the digestion of sin without bitterness in the heart. When a man has confirmed his imagination to such an apprehension of grace and mercy as to be able, without bitterness, to swallow and digest daily sins, that man is at the very brink of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and being hardened by the deceitfullness of sin.”
That’s a quote from John Owen’s Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers. I’ve been reading it recently and I find myself amazed not only at his insights into the life-long battle Christians wage but at his articulation of those insights. I’m going through the abridged version but the above quote is from his original writings, the second chapter to be exact. In fact that’s how far I am into the book but I was so struck by this quote that I had to share.
Basically what he’s saying is this: believers who aren’t mortifying (killing) sin will find themselves peering into sin, partaking in its temporary satisfactions and not feel anything at all. In contrast, mature believers are called to hate their sin. “O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 97:10 ESV
So for this particular test it isn’t if you are able to avoid sinning or seeing sin. But it’s that when you do sin, do you find yourself filled with a hatred toward it? The second sentence from the quote describes it well. When you are in such a state that you “swallow and digest daily sins” without bitterness or conviction that leads to repentance, you are right on the line of being hardened by sin’s deceit. Take heed unless you cross it. In fact you should put as much distance as possible from it. How? The daily duty of mortifying your sin. Yes that’s right. It’s a duty. As slaves to the King it is our literal job. And daily speaks to the frequency of performing this duty. It probably would have been more apt for him to say every-minute-of-every-day duty but that would have been too long. Plus I think he was going for that alliteration.