Outlines – Of the Mortification

Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen

(Chapter 1)
The foundation of mortification: Romans 8:13 (p. 45)
A. The conditionality: a certain connection (p. 45)
B. The persons: believers (p. 46)
C. The cause and means: the Holy Spirit (p. 47)
D. The duty: mortify the deeds of the body (p. 47)
E. The promise: you shall live (p. 49)
(Chapter 2)
I. Believers ought to make the mortification of indwelling sin their daily business (p. 49)
A. Indwelling sin always abides; therefore it must always be mortified (p. 50)
B. Indwelling sin not only abides, but is still acting (p. 51)
C. Indwelling sin is not only active, but will produce soul-destroying sins if not mortified
(p. 52)
D. Indwelling sin is to be opposed by the Spirit and the new nature (p. 53)
E. The results of neglecting the mortification of indwelling sin (p. 54)
F. It is our duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God and grow in grace every day
(p. 55)
(Chapter 3)
II. The Holy Spirit is the great sovereign cause of the mortification of indwelling sin (p. 57)
A. Other remedies are sought in vain (p. 58)
B. Why mortification is the work of the Spirit (p. 60)
1. The Spirit is promised of God to be given unto us to do this work (p. 60)
2. All mortification is from the gift of Christ, and all the gifts of Christ are
communicated to us and given us by the Spirit of Christ: (p. 60)
3. How the Spirit mortifies sin (p. 61)
a) By causing our hearts to abound in grace and the fruits that are contrary to the
flesh (p. 61)
b) By a real physical efficiency on the root and habit of sin (p. 61)
c) By bringing the cross of Christ into the heart of a sinner by faith (p. 61)
4. If the Spirit alone mortifies sin, why are we are exhorted to it? (p. 62)
a) All graces and good works which are in us are his (p. 62)
b) It is still an act of our obedience (p. 62)
(Chapter 4)
III. The life, vigor, and comfort of our spiritual life depend much on our mortification of sin
(p. 63)
A. Life, vigor, and comfort are not necessarily connected to mortification (p. 63)
B. Adoption and justification, not mortification, are the immediate causes of life, vigor,
and comfort (p. 64)
C. However, in the ordinary relationship with God, the vigor and comfort of our
spiritual lives depend much on our mortification of sin (p. 64)
1. Mortification alone keeps sin from depriving us of vigor and comfort (p. 64)
a) Every unmortified sin will weaken the soul and deprive it of its vigor (p. 64)
(1) It untunes and unframes the heart itself, by entangling its affections
(p. 64)
(2) It fills the thoughts with contrivances about it (p. 65)
(3) It breaks out and actually hinders duty (p. 65)
b) Every unmortified sin will darken the soul and deprive it of its comfort and
peace (p. 65)
2. Mortification prunes all the graces of God and makes room for them in our hearts
to grow (p. 65)
3. As to our peace; as there is nothing that has any evidence of sincerity without it,
so I know nothing that has such an evidence of sincerity in it (p. 66)
(Chapter 5)
I. The nature of mortification (p. 69)
A. What mortification is not (p. 69)
1. Mortification is not the utter destruction and death of sin (p. 69)
2. Mortification is not the dissimulation of a sin (p. 70)
3. Mortification is not the improvement of a quiet, sedate nature (p. 70)
4. Mortification is not the diversion of sin (p. 71)
5. Mortification is not just occasional conquests over sin (p. 71)
(Chapter 6)
B. What mortification is (p. 73)
1. Mortification consists in a habitual weakening of sin (p. 73)
2. Mortification consists in constant fighting and contending against sin (p. 76)
3. Mortification consists in frequent success (p. 77)
(Chapter 7)
II. General directions (p. 78)
A. There will be no mortification of any sin unless one be a believer (p. 79)
(Chapter 8)
B. There will be no mortification of any sin without sincerity and diligence in a
universality of obedience (p. 86)
(Chapter 9)
III. Particular directions (p. 89)
A. Consider whether your lust has these dangerous symptoms accompanying it (p. 89)
1. Inveterateness (p. 90)
2. Secret pleas of the heart to countenance sin without a gospel attempt to mortify
sin (p. 91)
3. Applying grace and mercy to an unmortified sin (p. 92)
4. Frequency of success in sin’s seduction (p. 92)
5. Arguing against sin only because of impending punishment (p. 93)
6. Probable judiciary hardness (p. 94)
7. When your lust has already withstood particular dealings from God against it
(p. 95)
(Chapter 10)
B. Get a clear and abiding sense upon your mind and conscience of the guilt, danger,
and evil of your sin (p. 97)
1. Consider the guilt of it (p. 97)
a) Though the power of sin be weakened by inherent grace, yet the guilt of
remaining sin is aggravated and heightened by it (p. 98)
b) God sees a great deal of evil in the working of lust in the hearts of his servants
(p. 98)
2. Consider the danger of it (p. 98)
a) Of being hardened by deceitfulness (p. 98)
b) Of some great temporal correction (p. 99)
c) Of loss of peace and strength (p. 99)
d) Of eternal destruction (p. 100)
3. Consider its present evils (p. 101)
a) It grieves the holy and blessed Spirit (p. 101)
b) The Lord Jesus Christ is wounded afresh by it (p. 102)
c) It will take away a man’s usefulness in his generation (p. 102)
(Chapter 11)
C. Load your conscience with the guilt of sin (p. 103)
1. Begin with generals and descend to particulars (p. 103)
a) Charge your conscience with that guilt which appears in it from the rectitude
and holiness of the law (p. 103)
b) Bring your lust to the gospel (p. 105)
2. Descend to particulars (p. 105)
a) Consider the infinite patience and forbearance of God toward you in particular
(p. 105)
b) Consider the infinitely rich grace of God whereby you have been recovered to
communion with him again (p. 106)
c) Consider all of God’s gracious dealings with you (p. 106)
D. Constantly long and breathe after deliverance from the power of it (p. 106)
E. Consider whether the distemper is rooted in your nature and increased by your
constitution (p. 107)
1. Particular sinful inclinations are an outbreak of original lust in your nature
(p. 107)
2. Without extraordinary watchfulness, your nature will prevail against your soul
(p. 107)
3. For the mortification of any distemper rooted in the nature of a man, there is one
expedient peculiarly suited: bringing the body into subjection (p. 108)
a) The outward weakening and impairing of the body should not be looked upon
as a thing good in itself (p. 108)
b) The means whereby this is done should not be looked on as things that in
themselves can produce true mortification of any sin (p. 108)
F. Consider the occasions and advantages your distemper has taken to exert and put
forth itself, and watch against them all (p. 109)
G. Rise mightily against the first actings and conceptions of your distemper (p. 109)
(Chapter 12)
H. Use and exercise yourself to such meditations as may serve to fill you at all times with
self-abasement and thoughts of your own vileness (p. 110)
1. Think much of the excellency of the majesty of God and your infinite,
inconceivable distance from him (p. 110)
2. Think much of your unacquaintedness with him (p. 111)
(Chapter 13)
I. Do not speak peace to yourself before God speaks it, but hearken to what God says
to your soul (p. 118)
1. God reserves the privilege to speak peace to whom, and in what degree, he pleases
(p. 119)
2. It is the prerogative of Christ to speak peace to the conscience (p. 119)
a) Men speak peace to themselves without the detestation of sin and the
abhorrence of themselves for it (p. 119)
b) Men speak false peace to themselves when they rely upon convictions and
rational principles to carry them (p. 121)
3. We speak peace to ourselves when we do it slightly (p. 124)
4. If one speaks peace to himself upon any one account of sin, and at the same time
has another evil of no less importance lying upon his spirit, without dealing with
God, that man cries “Peace” when there is none (p. 125)
5. When men of themselves speak peace to their consciences, it is seldom that God
speaks humiliation to their souls (p. 125)
(Chapter 14)
IV. Directions for the work itself (p. 131)
A. Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of your sin (p. 131)
B. This whole work is effected, carried on, and accomplished by the power of the Spirit,
in all the parts and degrees of it (p. 138)
1. The Spirit alone clearly and fully convinces the heart of the evil and guilt and
danger of the corruption, lust, or sin to be mortified (p. 138)
2. The Spirit alone reveals unto us the fullness of Christ for our relief (p. 138)
3. The Spirit alone establishes the heart in expectation of relief from Christ (p. 139)
4. The Spirit alone brings the cross of Christ into our hearts with its sin-killing power
(p. 139)
5. The Spirit is the author and finisher of our sanctification (p. 139)
6. In all the soul’s addresses to God in this condition, it has support from the Spirit
(p. 139)


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