The Deceitfulness of Sin

John Owen, (1616-1683) was a Puritan academic, pastor, one-time chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and prolific author in England during the crisis-filled seventeenth century. He was acquainted with sorrow (of his eleven children, ten died in infancy), persecution (was a victim of the Act of Uniformity of 1662 which drove him from London), and had an astute understanding of the destructive nature of sin in people’s lives. In The Mortification of Sin he wrote:

Every time sin rises to tempt or entice, it always seeks to express itself in the extreme. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression; and every unbelieving thought would be atheism. It is like the grave that is never satisfied.

In this we see the deceitfulness of sin. It gradually prevails to harden man’s heart to his ruin (Heb. 3:13). Sin’s expression is modest in the beginning but, once it has gained a foothold, it continues to take further ground and presses on to greater heights. This advance of sin keeps the soul from seeing that it is drifting from God. The soul becomes indifferent to the seed of sin as it continues to grow. This growth has no boundaries but utter denial of God and opposition to Him. Sin precedes higher by degrees; it hardens the heart as it advances. This enables the deceitfulness of sin to drive the soul deeper and deeper into sin. Nothing can prevent this but mortification. Mortification withers the root and strikes at the head of sin every hour. The best saints in the world are in danger of a fall if found negligent in this important duty!” (The Mortification of Sin, Banner of Truth abridged version)

The utter deceitfulness of sin reminds us once again of our need to flee to Christ, to trust in Christ, and to rest in what Christ has done of our behalf, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)



  1. Sandra A. said,

    March 1, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Amen, brother! what a hard task it is to daily, hourly, even by the minute remember that sin will get the best of us if we are not very careful. That book by Owen is difficult to read but I really like what he says.
    The Emmaus walk went very well. Several team members got sick and even a few pilgrims but through the grace of our GOD, we persevered and it was wonderful. To Him be all the honor, glory and praise. Thanks for your prayers.

  2. cliftonr said,

    March 1, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    We did miss having you and Rosemary at RPC yesterday, but I am glad to hear that things went well for you.

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