Killing Sin So Sin Doesn't Kill
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13 NKJV.
“The Promise: You Shall Live
The promise unto this duty is life: “you shall live.” The life promised is opposed to the death threatened in the clause foregoing, “If you live after the flesh, you shall die”; which the same apostle expresses, “You shall of the flesh reap corruption” (Gal. 6:8), or destruction from God. Now, perhaps the word may not only intend eternal life, but also the spiritual life in Christ, which here we have; not as to the essence and being of it, which is already enjoyed by believers, but as to the joy, comfort, and vigor of it: as the apostle says in another case, “now we live, if you stand fast” (1 Thess. 3:8)-“Now my life will do me good; I shall have joy and comfort with my life”-“You shall live, lead a good life, vigorous, comfortable, spiritual life while you are here, and obtain eternal life hereafter.”
Supposing what was said before of the connection between mortification and eternal life, as of means and end, I shall add only, as a second motive to the duty prescribed, that:
The vigor, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on
the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.
Believers Ought To Make The Mortification Of Indwelling Sin Their Daily Work
Having laid this foundation, a brief confirmation of the aforementioned principal deductions will lead me to what I chiefly intend, that: The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin. So the apostle, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Col. 3:5). To whom does he speak? Such as were “risen with Christ” (v.1); such as were “dead” with him (v.3); such as whose life Christ was and who should “appear with Him in glory” (v.4).
Do you mortify;
Do you make it your daily work;
be always at it while you live;
cease not a day from this work;
be killing sin or it will be killing you.
Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being quickened with Him, will not excuse you from this work. And our Savior tells us how His Father deals with every branch in Him that bears fruit, every true and living branch. “He purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2). He prunes it, and that not for a day or two, but while it is a branch in the world. And the apostle tells you what was his practice: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27). “I do it,” says he, “daily; it is the work of my life: I omit it not; this is my business.” And if this were the work and business of Paul, who was so incomparably exalted in grace, revelations, enjoyments, privileges, consolations, above the ordinary measure of believers, where may we possibly bottom an exemption from this work and duty while we are in this world?”
-John Owen (1616-1683) From Overcoming Sin and Temptation by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor Published by Crossway Books Wheaton, IL 2006 Pages 49-50.