I am rereading John Owen’s Mortification of Sin for the millionth time (obviously an exaggeration), and I just came across one of my favorite passages. He is in the middle of explaining why putting sin to death (mortification), is so important to our spiritual vigor and our spiritual peace. I always find this paragraph helpful and thought you might be encouraged by it also!
“The life and vigor of our spiritual lives consists in the vigor and flourishing of the plants of grace in our hearts. Now as you may see in a garden, let there be a precious herb planted, and let the ground be untilled, and weeds grow about it, perhaps it will live still, but be a poor withering, unuseful thing. You must look and search for it, and sometimes can scarce find it; and when you do, you can scarce know it, whether it be the plant you look for or no; and suppose it be, you can make no use of it at all. When, let another of the same kind be set in the ground, naturally as barren and bad as the other, but it be well weeded, and everything that is noxious and hurtful removed from it, —it flourishes and thrives; you may see it at first look into the garden, and have it for your use when you please. So it is with the graces of the Spirit that are planted in our hearts. That is true; thy are still, they abide in a heart where there is some neglect of mortification; but they are ready to die, Rev 3:2, they are withering and decaying. The heart is like the sluggard’s field, —so overgrown with weeds that you can scarce see the good corn. Such a man may search for faith, love, and zeal, and scarce be able to find any; and if he do discover that these graces are there yet alive and sincere, yet they are so weak, so clogged with lusts, that they are of very little use; they remain indeed, but are ready to die. But now let the heart be cleansed by mortification, the weeds of lust constantly and daily rooted up (as they spring daily, nature being their proper soil), let room be made for grace to thrive and flourish, —how will every grace act it’s part and be ready for every use and purpose!” (J. Owen, Mortification, 32)
Brothers and sisters, if there are any areas of your life where you are tolerating sin, turn and be healed! It is a simple matter of looking to God, confessing your sin, and receiving His grace. And then turning with fresh resolve to fight your sin by the power of the Spirit. The means of grace are all around you! Read your bible! Pray! Recite the promises of God to yourself. Sing worship to the Lord! And let your heart be cleansed so that the gracious fruit of the Spirit may fill your hungry soul with good things.
Do you desire peace? Do you long for joy? Do you yearn for self-control? Then refuse to gratify the desires of the flesh and strive to live near Christ by keeping in step with the Spirit, who desires to cultivate these very things in your soul (Gal 5:16-25).