Romans 12-13 is about some everyday practices in the believer’s life that need sanctification. Both the first verses (12:1-2) and the last verse (13:14) of that section emphasize the basic steps of sanctification:
- Aggressively put off sin
- Joyfully put on Christ and righteous replacements of sin
- Intentionally cultivate a renewed way of thinking
To help us on the journey to a Christlike life, we have been given many helpful books. By no means is this list exhaustive, but it is a compilation of a few books that I have found helpful. I separate them into two primary categories: General helps on sanctification and putting on Christ, and more specific helps in fighting against sin (mortification), with some brief comments on some of them.
General Works on Sanctification and Pursuing Christ
John Piper, Desiring God. I first read this volume probably 30 years ago and it was of immeasurable help to me. I have since read many of Piper’s works, but this first one remains the enduring one for me, giving me a glimpse of God’s delightful glory.
Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace. Many of Bridges’ books might have been placed in this list, including The Pursuit of Holiness and The Practice of Godliness. Bridges’ books have persisted for more than a generation and are still helpful and wise. I highly recommend them all.
Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ. The first time I read this book I liked it. The second time I read it I was overwhelmed by the delights to be found in Christ. Reeves is profound, but clear, readable, and accessible. While this book is not technically about sanctification it does reveal the object of our sanctification and the delights to be found in our Savior.
Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness. Our current book of the month, this is a good summary of the sanctification process. DeYoung writes with simple clarity.
David Powlison, How Does Sanctification Work? This is a short but helpful overview of the process of sanctification. It is typical of Powlison’s work (which is to say that it is good).
Andrew David Naselli, No Quick Fix. This volume is a critique of the Keswick view of sanctification; he not only provides a helpful evaluation of that view, but also sets out a more biblical approach to being made holy.
Works on Mortification and Putting off Sin
John Owen, The Mortification of Sin. This is the standard volume on mortification, but it can be hard to follow Owen’s argument in places (for instance, the chapter breaks are sometimes placed in the middle of points he is making). However, if you persist through this you will be challenged and encouraged.
Kris Lundgaard, The Enemy Within. This is “Owen Light.” Lundgaard has taken the principles of Owen and reframed them into a modern context with modern examples. Very helpful. I have recommended this many times.
Wayne A. Mack, A Fight to the Death. Another very helpful volume similar in tone to Lundgaard.