“Be Killing Sin, or Sin Will Be Killing You”
John Owen famously wrote, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” From his teaching series Assurance of Faith, Joel Beeke describes how the Holy Spirit empowers Christians to put sin to death and grow in righteousness throughout their lives.
John Owen said so famously, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” You see, to kill sin, to clear the woods of sin in our heart, is a critical part of the whole process of sanctification. And the more we experience that, the more assurance we will have that our desires are Godward and therefore that we are the children of God. Owen has another beautiful word picture, by the way. He paints the natural human heart as thick woods. And, he says, “By nature, it’s just all woods.” Now we think of “woods” as positive, but think of woods as negative for a moment. Our whole nature, it’s just like thick woods and brush, the brush of sin. And, he says, when the Spirit comes in this life, He cleans out little patches, and you maybe conquer that sin over there, and there’s some brushes taken away, some trees removed; there’s a bit of a clearing there. And, then there’s a bit of a clearing over there, and over here, and over here. And as you grow in grace, more and more gets cleared out. There’s a progressive sanctification. But, he says, the woods won’t be cleared off completely until you die. There’s always going to be the brush, sin, the underground brush of sin, the above-ground brush of sin, the woods that are impediments in your spiritual life. But the more that gets cleared away, the better. And your aim must be to always be killing all sin, so that sin does not kill you. The Spirit will help you. He helps you by making you alert to sin, by making you grieve over sin, by applying the sin-killing work of Christ at the cross to you, by fighting the good fight of faith, and by enabling you to put the sword through sin. That’s all the work of the Spirit within you, and you’ve got to give Him the credit for that.