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Licensed to Kill

A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin

“If you’re ready to put sin to death instead of trying to manage it, this book outlines the only strategy that works. This is a book I will return to and regularly recommend to others.”
Bob Lepine, Co-Host, FamilyLife Today

“A theologically solid and helpfully illustrated book.”
Joe Thorn,

Also endorsed by Tullian Tchividjian, Wes Ward.

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Description & Excerpts


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The Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground. One of the fiercest foes in this battle dwells within our own hearts: the enemy of indwelling sin. The Scriptures command us to “put sin to death.” This is what pastors and theologians of another generation called the “mortification” of sin. But how do we mortify sin? And what role does the gospel play in this effort to apply lethal force against sin? How can we avoid falling into legalism while still maintaining a passion for holiness? And what kinds of strategies actually work in the daily battle? These are questions I have personally wrestled with as both a Christian and a pastor. This book is my attempt to answer those questions and provide a biblical and practical guide for the war against sin.

About the Author

Brian Hedges is the lead pastor for Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles, Michigan. He has been married to Holly since 1996 and has three children: Stephen, Matthew, and Susannah. He has contributed articles to Heartcry! A Journal on Revival and Spiritual Awakening, Pastor Connect, and The Banner of Truth magazine. He is the author of Christ Formed in You: The Power of Gospel for Personal Change (Shepherd Press, 2010).

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LIC front 364


One: Killing Sin — The Definition of Mortification
Two: Toward Life or Death — Why Sin Must Be Killed
Three: The Monster Within — The Nature of Indwelling Sin
Four: With Murderous Intent — How Sin Works in Our Souls
Five: Soul Surgery — Preparing for Mortification
Six: Transforming Grace — The Power of the Gospel
Seven: Crucified with Christ — How the Cross Kills Sin
Eight: Empowered by the Spirit — His Role and Ours
Nine: The Weapons of War — Meditation and Prayer



Licensed to Kill, by Brian G. Hedges (Cruciform Press), Sample Pages

endorsements   &   reviews


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“Are there things you hate that you end up doing anyway? Have you tried to stop sinning in certain areas of your life, only to face defeat over and over again? If you’re ready to get serious about sin patterns in your life – ready to put sin to death instead of trying to manage it – this book outlines the only strategy that works. This is a book I will return to and regularly recommend to others.”

Bob Lepine, Co-Host, FamilyLife Today

“Sanctification is a grueling process. But it’s NOT the process of moving beyond the reality of our justification but rather moving deeper into the reality of our justification. This is why when Jesus was asked in John 6:28, ‘What must we do to be doing the works of God?’ he answered, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he sent.’ Jesus was getting at the root of the problem because justification alone kills all of our self-salvation projects that fuel all of our bad behavior and moral failures. Brian Hedges shows the importance of fighting the sin that so easily entangles us and robs us of our freedom by fleeing to the finished work of Christ every day. Well done!”

Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and author of Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels

“Brian Hedges hasn’t written a book for our recreational pleasure, but a ‘field manual’ to assist us in our battle against sin. Rather than aiming at simple moral reformation, Licensed to Kill aims at our spiritual transformation in this fight by addressing the ‘drives and desires of our hearts.’ Like any good field manual, this is a small volume that focuses on the most critical information regarding our enemy, and gives practical instruction concerning the stalking and killing of sin. This is a theologically solid and helpfully illustrated book that not only warns of sin’s danger, but also holds out the gospel confidence of sin’s ultimate demise.”

Joe Thorn, author, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself, Lead Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship, Saint Charles, IL

“Are you ready for a serious fight to the death? My friend Brian Hedges goes for the jugular by dusting off a near antique word (and worse, a scarcely-used yet lethal weapon): mortification. Are Christ-followers really licensed to kill? Read this ‘field-manual’ and you will discover that you have a monstrous and aggressive antagonist who is aiming to annihilate you. It’s your duty to fight back! Brian has given us a faithful, smart, Word-centered guide to help us identify and form a battle plan for mortally wounding the enemy of indwelling sin.”

Wes Ward, Senior Director of Media & Content Strategy, Revive Our Hearts (and a co-elder with the author)

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“Provides excellent insight into how the believer should deal with sin in their lives.”

Mortify your sin. That is likely a sentence most have not heard recently despite being a persistent point of emphasis by great Puritan authors such as John Owen. Mortifying sin involves putting to death the flesh so that the things of God may replace those earthly desires. Pastor and author Brian Hedges in his helpful and powerful book Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin, provides excellent insight into how the believer should deal with sin in their lives.

Hedges begins his book by helping the reader understand what and where to target. He rightly notes “That target is not merely bad behavior but the sinful desires of the heart that produce the behavior.” Dealing with sin involves getting down to the root cause of that sin instead of merely lopping off the head of the dandelion hoping the weeds will no longer grow. Mortifying sin necessitates the need to deprive that which so easily entangles us of its ability to grow and breed in our life. Hedges reminds the reader of the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 13:14, namely “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Ultimately, the goal of mortification of sin is a progressive movement towards holiness through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Hedges correctly states the important point that one “cannot mortify sin unless that sin has already been nailed to the cross of Christ” or as John Owen once stated, “the death of death in the death of Christ.”

Sin is dangerous and not to be trifled with. Thus, the believer must understand that we are to engage in the battle against sin at all times. There should be no toleration of sin in our hearts. Hedges reminds the reader that such an approach is completely opposite of the current cultural mindset towards wrong behavior. This is because “sin portrays itself as something other than what it really is…sin is dehumanizing.” Dealing with sin in our lives will involve some rather drastic measures and Hedges reminds the reader that Jesus even utilized “hyperbole as a call for literal self-mutilation” when Jesus stated it would be better to only have one eye and enter eternal life than have two eyes and be subject to everlasting damnation. Also noted by Hedges is the necessity to mortify sin “in all areas of our lives, not just some areas.” This calls for a complete examination of our lives on a constant basis.

Furthermore, it is imperative for the believer to understand how sin operates and how it entices the individual to pursue the path of unrighteousness. As noted earlier by Hedges, sin is deceitful, requiring the believer to be fully cognizant of how sin deceives the mind, entices the affections, and how it desires to conquer the will. The process of mortification involves what Hedges describes as soul surgery and this surgery is accomplished by that which pierces to the joints and marrow of our very soul, namely the Word of God. Hedges does an excellent job of orienting the reader to Scripture as the place by which we can better understand who we are and more importantly, who God is, what he calls a “right view of God” in order to do “exploratory soul surgery.”

Mortifying sin also involves understanding that dealing with sin starts with Christ and his work on the cross. Hedges elaborates on that important point, noting that the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1-3 reminds the believer to “exult in the supremacy of Christ over all things and the sufficiency of Christ alone to give us all that we need.” Also, Paul calls us “to remember our position in Christ…highlighting our union with Christ and reminding us that in him we have a new history, total security, and a glorious destiny.” The cross of Christ dealt a death blow to sin which is something we should rejoice in. Hedges states that “Sin’s death is like a crucifixion: slow, gradual, painful, and eventually final.” This means we will spend a lifetime dealing with sin knowing that the effort to deal with sin will lead us to a closer relationship with Christ as we look forward to that day when sin and death will be no more, that place of total and final sanctification.

Licensed to Kill reminded me in many ways of the works of John Owen. That is no surprise given that Hedges notes in the final pages of his book that he gleaned much of the insights that went into this book from the writings of John Owen. With that said, this book is truly an excellent handbook and field manual for dealing with sin in our lives. Battling sin is the responsibility of all believers. We must look at sin as something grotesque because it truly is just that. I highly recommend this book for all believers. Take the truths shared by Hedges to heart, implement the strategies he shares in your life, and do battle with sin leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit working in your life to the glory of God.

Mike B., Intelmin Apologetics