Licensed to Kill: A field manual for mortifying sin is written by Brian Hedges, a Pastor, and author. In Licensed to Kill, Brian seeks to explain what mortification is and why it is important in the life of the Christian. To mortify sin is to put sin to death. The famous Puritan John Owen once said that believers need to be “killing sin or it will be killing you.” Brian doesn’t just stop at explaining why mortification is important but grounds his explanation in who Christ is and what He has done on behalf of the believer. It is within the framework of what Christ has done on behalf of the believer that the author then calls them to examine themselves and to mortify their sin.

Mortifying sin is difficult work. As the author notes “the goal of mortification is a life of genuine holiness that results from the gradual weakening of sins’ influence in our hearts and lives.” One of the best aspects of this well written book is at the end of each chapter Brian asks questions to get the reader to examine themselves and apply the teaching to their lives. One area that I especially appreciated is Brian’s explanation that one cannot mortify sin (put to death sin) unless they are born again. Mortifying sin is not the work of unbeliever it is the work of believers’ progressively growing in Christ.

One of the most important statements in the entire book is that “God is calling us (the believer) to a life of holy violence against sin.” This is important to understand because the Christian life is a life of ongoing repentance in which the believer is engaged against a real foe- Satan, and lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

Brian does not seek to just give believers information on what mortification is but thoroughly grounds his argument in the Word of God and in the Gospel. In doing this Brian seeks to help believers diagnose where they are at in their Christian lives with the hope that they will diagnose their sin accurately. In the book he teaches that “we need to meditate on the true nature of sin until we load our consciences with its guilt and inflame our hearts with a longing to be liberated from its hold on our lives. As long as we can either justify our failures with rationalizations and excuses, or rest content with unrepentant sin and low levels of holiness, we will not be deeply determined to give sin the death blow.”

Brian calls believers to a right understanding of God and self in order to “allow God’s revelation to rest with proper weight on our hearts.” The reason for this is “only when we see God as he really is the author argues will we see ourselves as we really are. This will help us loathe our sins.” The author does not stop at theory on the issue of mortification but delves into how to mortify one’s sin through prayer, the Word of God and living in community with other believers in the context of a local Church.

Licensed to Kill A field Manual For Mortifying Sin is biblical and saturated in the Gospel. I am encouraged by the recent trend among writers to write on the topic of sanctification, and among the recent writing on sanctification this is one of the finest treatments I’ve read, especially on mortification. In fact as the author notes at the end he learned these truths from John Owen and other Puritans who sought to put sin to death and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. John Owen whose ghost walks through most of these pages would be delighted I believe with the way in which Brian Hedges has taught on the ground for mortifying sin and putting on the Lord Jesus Christ in this book. Therefore, I cannot recommend highly enough that you read this book and be encouraged, convicted, and challenged to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Title: Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin
Author: Brian G. Hedges
Publisher: Cruciform Press (2011)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cruciform Press as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”