Published on May 18, 2022 by Steve West

Banner of Truth, 1967 | 648 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

by Steve West


Editor’s Note:  Most of our readers will already be at least somewhat acquainted with John Owen (1616-1683), “the prince of Puritans,” but it is not likely that many have read him extensively. His works are not only voluminous – they are tightly packed and deeply considered. Owen is neither quick nor light reading!

Today we continue our year-long series of summaries of Owen’s famous works. We trust these will be of help in introducing and/or increasing your acquaintance with this giant Puritan theologian.


Table of Contents

On the Mortification of Sin
On Temptation
On Indwelling Sin in Believers
Exposition of Psalm 130


Summary, Part 1


On the Mortification of Sin


Chapters I & II

The foundation for this work is laid down by the apostle in Romans 8:13, “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live.”


  1. The duty: “mortify the deeds of the body”
  2. The people addressed: “ye”
  3. The promise: “ye shall live”
  4. The cause and means: “through the Spirit”
  5. The conditionality of the whole: “If ye, etc.”

There is an absolute certainty of connection that governs the whole, like saying to a sick man that if he takes his medicine he will be made well. Earlier in Romans, Paul made it crystal clear that justification and salvation are appropriated by faith alone, so mortification of sin is not the ground for our salvation. It stands in relation as a means to an end, however. This promise is addressed to believers, which teaches us that God’s choicest saints should mortify indwelling sin all of their days. The principal efficient cause of this work is the Spirit. In this context, the body represents “the flesh,” the seat of corruption and sin. To mortify is to kill, to take away something’s life-principle and power; we do this to sin so that it cannot produce its fruit. When we mortify sin we experience a life of spiritual power and comfort, and we have everlasting life as well.

It is believers who are to mortify the sins of the flesh. Colossian 3:5 says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth,” and this is addressed to those who died and were raised with Christ. Mortifying sin is to be our daily work: “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Paul was earnest in killing sin—how can we who are less gifted and holy have less need of this than he did? As long as we are in this world indwelling sin will abide, so we will always have need of mortification while we are here. We must not just strike this enemy down, we must kill it. Sin is not passively abiding in us: it is acting, seeking opportunity for expression. It will seem to pause and rest, but when it does so it is simply gathering its strength. . . .

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Banner of Truth, 1967 | 648 pages

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