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The Presence of God

“Believer, since the Lord is always present with you, compassing your pathway and your lying down, besetting you behind and before (Psalm 139:3-5), be careful to refrain yourself from doing anything that would be unbecoming of His presence. Set the Lord always before you. Acknowledge Him in all your ways. Fear Him. Humble yourself before Him. Walk in all reverence and humility before His countenance, for to sin in the presence of God greatly aggravates the sin committed. The presence of people serves as a restraint against the commission of many sins, and if the presence of God does not accomplish the same, one reveals himself having more respect for people than for the majestic and holy God. What a despising and proving of God this is! Therefore, let your reverence for the presence of God prevent your sinning against Him and let it motivate you to live a life pleasing to the Lord”

Wilhelmus A Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service
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Delightful Duty of Divine Love

The severities of a holy life, and that constant watch which we are obliged to keep over our hearts and ways, are very troublesome to those who are only ruled and acted by an external law, and have no law in their minds inclining them to the performance of their duty; but where divine love possesseth the soul, it stands as centinel to keep out every thing that may offend the beloved, and doth disdainfully repulse those temptations which assault it: it complieth cheerfully, not only with explicit commands, but with the most secret notices of the beloved’s pleasure, and is ingenious in discovering what will be most grateful and acceptable unto him: it makes mortification and self-denial change their harsh and dreadful names, and become easy, sweet, and delightful things.

—Henry Scougal
The Works of the Rev. H. Scougal (London: Ogle, Duncan, and Co., 1822), 29.

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Easier to Condemn Sins Than Kill Them

No sin is more apt to insinuate itself into our hearts, and duties, than hypocrisy.

We, of all men, are most in danger to be deceived by it: For our employment lying in, and about spiritual things, we are, on that account, stiled spiritual men (Hosea 9:7). But it is plain, from that very place, that a man may be objectively a spiritual, and all the while subjectively a carnal man. Believe it, brethren, it is easier to declaim, like an orator, against a thousand sins of others, than it is to mortify one sin, like Christians, in ourselves; to be more industrious in our pulpits, than in our closets; to preach twenty sermons to our people, than one to our own hearts.

—John Flavel
The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, 6:568.

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The Discipline of Repentance

The first great secret of holiness lies in the degree and the decisiveness of our repentance. If besetting sins persistently plague us, it is either because we have never truly repented, or because, having repented, we have not maintained our repentance. It is as if, having nailed our old nature to the cross, we keep wistfully returning to the scene of its execution. We begin to fondle it, to caress it, to long for its release, even to try to take it down again from the cross. We need to learn to leave it there. When some jealous, or proud, or malicious, or impure thought invades our mind we must kick it out at once. It is fatal to begin to examine it and consider whether we are going to give in to it or not. We have declared war on it; we are not going to resume negotiations. We have settled the issue for good; we are not going to re-open it. We have crucified the flesh; we are never going to draw the nails.

—John Stott
The Message of Galatians, 151–152.

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Slaying Sin is a Duty Always

Mortification of sin is a duty always incumbent on us in the whole course of our obedience. This the command testifieth, which represents it as an always present duty. When it is no longer a duty to grow in grace, it is so not to mortify sin. No man under heaven can at any time say that he is exempted from this command, nor on any pretence; and he who ceaseth from this duty lets go all endeavours after holiness. And as for those who pretend unto an absolute perfection, they are of all persons living the most impudent, nor do they ever in this matter open their mouths but they give themselves the lie.

—John Owen
The Works of John Owen, 3:541.