The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

What exactly is joy? Joy is often used as a synonym for happiness. Happiness is a spirit of delight and glee which is determined by favorable circumstances and situations. As a feeling, joy is experienced when a person has success, good fortune and well-being.

For example, the Bible sets forth the example of joy when the shepherd found his lost sheep (Mt 18:13). The multitude felt joy when Jesus healed a Jewish woman whom Satan had bound for 18 years (Luke 13:17). The disciples returned to Jerusalem rejoicing after Jesus’ ascension (Luke 24:52). The church at Antioch were joyful when its members heard the Jerusalem Council’s decision that they did not have to be circumcised to keep God’s law (Acts 15:31). The Apostle Paul mentioned his joy in hearing about the obedience of the Roman Christians (Rom 16:19). He also wrote to the Corinthians that love does not rejoice in wrong but rejoices in the right. See I Corinthians 13:6; 1 Samuel 2:1; 11:9; 18:6; 2 Samuel 6:12; 1 Kings 1:40; Esther 9:17–22).

However, joy (χαρά; chara) is also an action or a behavior regardless of one’s circumstances. Joy is a contentment in spirit regardless of whatever circumstances we face. There is a joy that Scripture commands. This is a gladness that can be displayed regardless of how the Christian feels. Joy is divinely provided peace in the midst of the storms of life.

Proverbs 5:18 tells the reader to rejoice in the wife of his youth, without reference to what she may be like. Christ instructed his disciples to rejoice when they were persecuted, reviled, and slandered (Matthew 5:11–12). The apostle Paul commanded continuous rejoicing (Phil 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16). James said Christians are to count it all joy when they fall into various testing’s because such testings’ produce endurance (James 1:2). Joy in adverse circumstances is possible only as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, who is present in every Christian (Romans 8:9).

One of the great thieves of joy is anxiety or worry. This is an apprehension and fear of one’s circumstances. It is also sin.

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” This is a command from God. Believers are to continually demonstrate joy and gladness in their lives. However, this joy is not rooted in one’s circumstances but rather in the Lord. He and He alone is the source of the believer’s joy.

Dr. John MacArthur writes that joy is, “A happiness based on unchanging divine promises and eternal spiritual realities. It is the sense of well-being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord (1 Pet. 1:8). Joy is not the result of favorable circumstances, and even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe (John 16:20–22). Joy is a gift from God, and as such, believers are not to manufacture it but to delight in the blessing they already possess (Rom. 14:17).”  

One of the ways believers in Christ can rejoice in the Lord is to recall and remember all the ways the Lord has been faithful in their lives. In other words, to count their many blessings. In what ways has the Lord brought joy into your life? 

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

In contrast to the works of the flesh, documented by the Apostle Paul, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The word fruit (καρπὸς; karpos) means in this context a spiritual harvest or obedient deeds. It is also important to note that the word fruit is singular, meaning that the fruit of the Holy Spirit should be viewed as a collective whole. These nine spiritual qualities are a unity which should be found in each believer the Holy Spirit controls.

The nine qualities listed are also sourced and originated solely by the Holy Spirit. This fruit is not produced by the believer, but rather by the Holy Spirit working through the believer who is in union with Christ (John 15:1-8).

Dr. John MacArthur writes that the fruit of the Spirit are, “Godly attitudes that characterize the lives of only those who belong to God by faith in Christ and possess the Spirit of God. The Spirit produces fruit, which consists of nine characteristics or attitudes that are inextricably linked with each and are commanded of believers throughout the NT.

The mortification of sin is not just about abolishing the works of the flesh, but also manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. Both disciplines are necessary. A believer who just eliminates the negative, without pursuing the positive, fails to understand what true spirituality is in Christ.

The list may be divided into three specific categories. The first three virtues address habits of the mind, or one’s thinking, rooted and grounded in the Lord and His Word.

Please notice that the fruit are all in total prefaced by the present, active state of being verb “is.” This is what the believer in Christ is to be along with what he/she is to do.

The first fruit is love (ἀγάπη; agape). This is a self-sacrificial love of the will. This is the same type of love God has for fallen sinners (John 3:16) and that believers are to have towards one another (I John 4:7-11).

The character of agape love is found in the I Corinthians 13:1-8a. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

Dr. MacArthur adds that, “One of several Greek words for love, agape is the love of choice, referring not to an emotional affection, physical attraction, or a familial bond, but to respect, devotion, and affection that leads to willing, self-sacrificial service (John 15:13Rom. 5:81 John 3:16–17).

 Self-sacrificial agape love is the foundation for all the remaining fruit. If agape love is absent from the believer’s life, there is no possible way the other eight fruit will be evidenced by the believer. In fact, the absence of agape love may be an indication the individual in question is not a believer in Christ at all.

Is agape love evident in your life as a believer in union with Christ? Can you think of any circumstances, or people, of which you find it difficult to demonstrate self-sacrificial love of the will? If so, ask God to give you the discipline and determination to demonstrate such a love in the places, and toward the people, who need it most.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Works of the Flesh, Part 4.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, president and professor of systematic and historical theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina, writes,When you are faced with temptation, when lusts rise up within to attack you, consider yourself dead to sin (Romans 6:11). When you grieve over your lack of love for God and growth in grace, remind yourself, I am alive in Christ; I can grow in holiness. Practice the power of spiritual thinking. Second, practice the duty of spiritual enlistment. Paul uses a military concept in Romans 6:12–13. Since sin is no longer our master, we must not let it reign in our bodies to obey its lusts. He uses the term body, since the perversions of sin in the soul often manifests themselves in the bodily appetites and the body becomes an instrument of sin — our eyes, our speech, our hands, and our feet.”

As we continue our study of the works of the flesh from Galatians 5:19-21, the Apostle Paul lists the various, personal sins which the Christian must seek to continually mortify or kill. Paul divides these works into three categories. The first category regards sexual immorality. The second category deals with false worship. The third category concerns human relationships within society and even within the church. This third category of sins include, “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” Let’s examine the last six listed.

 Dissensions (διχοστασίαι; dichostasia) means to have division and discord. The word literally means to cut in two what was once one. The word for dissension is found in one other Pauline passage. Romans 16:17 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”

Divisions (αἱρέσεις; haireseis), like dissensions, means to separate or divide people into two opposing groups. Our English word “heresy” comes from this word for division. 2 Peter 2:1 says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Envy (φθόνοι; phthonoi) means to have ill will toward someone because of some real or presumed advantage you believe they possess. It literally means to have a heart which is hot or a stomach which burns.

Drunkenness (μέθαι; methai) means to be inebriated on alcoholic beverages. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,”

Orgies (κῶμοι; komoi) means to carouse and to revel in drunkenness. The word refers to drinking parties in which immoral behavior occurs.

The Apostle Paul initially concludes with the phrase “and things like these” to refer to similar types of behavior and works of the flesh. These are the works of which believers must seek to mortify.

The apostle then issues a stern and serious warning to his readers: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Does this mean that a believer, who may engage in any of these sins,  previously listed and examined today, are in danger to losing their salvation? Some Christians believe this to be true. However, the issue Paul raises does not refers to an occasional lapse into sin but rather an ongoing lifestyle.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “The apostle then solemnly warned the Galatians, as he had done when he was in their midst, that those who live like this, who habitually indulge in these fleshly sins will not inherit the future kingdom of God. This does not say that a Christian loses his salvation if he lapses into a sin of the flesh, but that a person who lives continually on such a level of moral corruption gives evidence of not being a child of God.”

We should never have the perspective that we can willfully sin and get away with it. Sin causes real damage to our fellowship with God and with other believers (2 Samuel 11-12). However, the true believer may rest assured that God has given them eternal life based upon the person and work of Jesus Christ, He alone is our advocate (I John 2:1-2; I Timothy 2:5).

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Works of the Flesh, Part 3.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, president and professor of systematic and historical theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina, writes, “Central to the practice of mortification is the believer’s union with Christ Jesus. In Romans 6:1–13, Paul shows the relationship of union with Christ to mortification. In Romans 6, the apostle is answering the objection that justification promotes sin. He teaches that the work of Christ on the cross, which is the basis for justification, is also the basis of sanctification. Paul bases his argument on the believer’s union with Christ in His death and resurrection. He says, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:5 nasb).”

We continue our study of the works of the flesh from Galatians 5:19-21. These are various personal sins which the Christian must seek to continually mortify or kill. The Apostle Paul divides these mentioned works into three categories. The first category regards sexual immorality. The second category deals with false worship. The third category concerns human relationships. These include, “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” Let’s examine the first five listed separately.

Enmity (ἔχθραι; echthra) means to be an enemy of someone. This includes having feelings of hostility and antagonism. This word not only describes sinful relationships with other humans but also our enmity with God prior to our salvation.

Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Mortification of sin is important because God has not only saved us from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin. If we are not mortifying the power of sin in our lives than it stands to reason that God has yet to deliver us from the penalty of sin. In other words, we may think and believe we are Christians but we in reality are not. This was Jesus’ point in Matthew 7:21-23.

Strife (ἔρις; eris) is defined as discord, contentiousness and quarreling. It is possessing an argumentative spirit. Strife is the natural result of possessing hate of a spirit of enmity.

Jealousy (ζῆλος; zelos) refers to resentment. In this context, it is self-centeredness which resents what you do not have and also resents those who have what you do not have. See Romans 13:13.

Fits of anger (θυμοί; thymoi) is fury, wrath and rage. It is an outburst of temper as a result of jealousy and resentment.

Rivalries (ἐριθεῖαι; eritheiai) involves resentment and hostility brought about by selfish ambition. As one author explains, “It (eritheiai) is a self-aggrandizing attitude which shows itself in working to get ahead at other’s expense (cf. Phil. 2:3).”

All of these five works of the flesh are evident in everyday life and living. This is unfortunate but all too characteristic of living in a fallen world. 

Which of these works of the flesh can you identify as being a part of your own life? Are all of them evident? If so, whether some or all, repent of them today and resolve to mortify them from your mind, emotions and will.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

LORD’S DAY 24, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 24 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses the subject of God the Holy Spirit.

Q. Why can’t our good works be our righteousness before God, or at least a part of our righteousness?

A. Because the righteousness which can pass God’s judgment must be entirely perfect and must in every way measure up to the divine law.1 But even our best works in this life are imperfect and stained with sin.2

1 Rom. 3:20Gal. 3:10 (Deut. 27:26).
2 Isa. 64:6.

 

Q. How can our good works be said to merit nothing when God promises to reward them in this life and the next?1

A. This reward is not earned; it is a gift of grace.2

1 Matt. 5:12Heb. 11:6.
2 Luke 17:102 Tim. 4:7-8.

 

Q. But doesn’t this teaching make people indifferent and wicked?

A. No. It is impossible for those grafted into Christ through true faith not to produce fruits of gratitude.1

1 Luke 6:43-45John 15:5.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Works of the Flesh, Part 2.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

“The only righteousness that meets the requirements of the Law is the righteousness of Christ. It is only by imputation of that righteousness that the sinner can ever possess the righteousness of the Law. This is critical for our understanding in this day where the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is so widely under attack. If we abandon the notion of the righteousness of Christ, we have no hope, because the Law is never negotiated by God. As long as the Law exists, we are exposed to its judgment unless our sin is covered by the righteousness of the Law. The only covering that we can possess of that righteousness is that which comes to us from the active obedience of Christ, who Himself fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law. His fulfilling of the Law in Himself is a vicarious activity by which He achieves the reward that comes with such obedience. He does this not for Himself but for His people. It is the background of this imputed righteousness, this rescue from the condemnation of the Law, this salvation from the ravages of sin that is the backdrop for the Christian’s sanctification, in which we are to mortify that sin that remains in us, since Christ has died for our sin.Dr. R. C. Sproul

We continue our study of the works of the flesh from Galatians 5:19-21. The Apostle Paul divides these mentioned works into three categories. The first category was regarding sexual immorality. The second category has to do with false worship. Paul mentions two specific examples: idolatry and sorcery.

Idolatry (εἰδωλολατρία; eidoloatria) is worship offered to anything or anyone other than the One, True God of the Bible. Idolatry is synonymous with adoration, adulation, devotion and obsession. The Greek word refers to a copy whether artificially made, self-reproduced or simply present.

Idolatry can be offered to a person, place or thing, such as an inanimate object. The LORD specifically prohibits the worship of anything or anyone other than Himself (Exodus 20:3-6). The Word of God expresses the futility and idiocy of worship of objects other than God (Isaiah 46). The depravity of a nation, or its people, originates with idolatry (Romans 1:18-23).

The second word Paul uses is the word sorcery (φαρμακεία; pharmakeia). It means to practice magic and to cast spells upon people. How many of my generation can recall watching the weekly network television comedies featuring Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched and Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie. These two programs featured, respectively, a modern day witch and genie who routinely cast spells upon people by their magical powers. What television lauded as entertainment the Bible condemns as sin.

Revelation 9:20-21 says, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

Revelation 18:23 says, “and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The Greek word pharmakeia, from which the English word “pharmacy” comes, originally referred to medicines in general, but eventually only to mood- and mind-altering drugs, as well as the occult, witchcraft, and magic. Many pagan religious practices required the use of these drugs to aid in the communication with deities.

Idolatry not only is replacing God as the sole object of worship but also to worship other objects at the same time we are worshipping God. The LORD will not share the honor of our worship with anything or anyone else. We must worship Him alone.

Do you find yourself tempted to honor other objects other than just the LORD? I’m sure you do because we all do. We must continually repent of this sin in order to be obedient to the command to mortify our sin (Romans 8:13-14). Idolatry included.

We must also be on our guard to not allow items intended as forms of entertainment to capture our attention and affection. This is especially true when those items feature the casting of spells, sorcery and magic.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Mortification of Sin: The Works of the Flesh.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

What exactly are the works of the flesh? While not a complete or comprehensive list, what the Apostle Paul does share is pretty thorough and reflects several categories of sin.

What is sin? The question is raised in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The answer provided to this catechetical question is simply this: “Sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “To gain a complete view of sin, we have to see that it involves more than a negation of the good, or more than a simple lack of virtue. We may be inclined to think that sin, if defined exclusively in negative terms, is merely an illusion. But the ravages of sin point dramatically to the reality of its power, which reality can never be explained away by appeals to illusion. The reformers added to the idea of privatio” the notion of actuality or activity, so that evil is therefore seen in the phrase, privatio actuosa.” This stresses the active character of sin. In the catechism, sin is defined not only as a want of conformity but an act of transgression, an action that involves an overstepping or violation of a standard.

This is why believers in Christ must set about to mortify their sin. What are some examples of sinful behavior? Galatians 5:19-21 gives us a sampling. They may be divided into three distinct categories.

The first category concerns sexual sin. These are sins which violate God’s standard for sexual intimacy, which He restricts to a man and his wife covenanted in a heterosexual marriage. The violations include sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (Galatians 5:19).

The term sexual immorality comes from the Greek word πορνεία (pornia) from which we derive our English word pornography and pornographic. It means to engage in illicit sex or fornication. It is a general term referring to any and all sexual immorality, including prostitution and homosexuality.

Impurity (ἀκαθαρσία; akatharsia) means moral impurity. It refers to immorality and sexual filthiness.

Sensuality (ἀσέλγεια; aselgeia) refers to extreme immorality. It is often translated licentiousness. One Greek dictionary says the equivalent of “‘licentious behavior’ would be ‘to live like a dog’ or ‘to act like a goat’ or ‘to be a rooster,’ in each instance pertaining to promiscuous sexual behavior.”

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Sexual immorality (porneia) is often translated “fornication.” From this word comes the term “pornography.” Porneia refers to any and all forms of illicit sexual relationships. Impurity (akatharsia) is a broad term referring to moral uncleanness in thought, word, and deed (cf. Eph. 5:3–4). Debauchery (aselgeia) connotes an open, shameless, brazen display of these evils (cf. 2 Cor. 12:21 where the same words occur; aselgeia is included in Rom. 13:13).”

This list of three words and phrases sounds like much of the content of many scripted and reality cable television programs. Quite frankly, it is the content of much of the prime time fare on network television, movies, music and magazines. All of these categories of sexual sin are presented by the culture as normal and liberating. The reality is that these sins are abnormal and enslaving.

Do you struggle with these sins? I know, this is a really personal question but answer it in the inner confines of your soul between you and the LORD. Repent of these desires and continually ask God to give you the strength to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23-27).

Next time, we will look at the second category of sins found in Galatians 5:20.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Mortification of Sin: The Desires, and works, of the Flesh.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:16-21)

What exactly are the desires and works of the flesh? To begin with, what is the distinction between the words desires and works?

The word “desires” (ἐπιθυμίαν; epithymian) means to covet, to lust and to have evil desires. The word “works” (ἔργα; erga) refers to acts or deeds. In other words, behavior. I do not believe it is a coincidence or an accident by the Holy Spirit, and the Apostle Paul, that the word desires precedes the word works. How we behave, especially in regards to sin, is preceded by how we think and feel.

James says much the same thing in James 1:12-15. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

Notice what James says about desire and sin. Each and every person is tempted when he/she is lured and enticed by their own desire. This is the same word Paul used in Galatians 5:16. It is when an individual gives in to such desire that it gives birth to sin.

Notice the phrase “has conceived gives birth to sin.” Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Sin is not merely a spontaneous act, but the result of a process. The Greek words for “has conceived” and “gives birth” liken the process to physical conception and birth. Thus James personifies temptation and shows that it can follow a similar sequence and produce sin with all its deadly results.”

What sinful desires are you currently battling within your mind, emotions and will? Remember, God is the only One who determines what is sinful and what is not sinful. The definition of sin does not belong to the culture, a political party or candidate for political office or even a religious denomination or religious leader. Ask God to help you to meditate upon the Word of God in order to battle sinful desires (Psalm 1; Colossians 3).

We all battle with our remaining sinful flesh. The question is whether or not we give in to those desires. If we do, then it becomes sin.

We will look at some specific examples of the works of the flesh from Galatians 5 when next we meet. Ask God to give you the frame of mind to never accommodate sinful desires. Ask Him to give you the resolve to never act upon a sinful desire.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruits of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“While many Christians suppose their spiritual growth is monitored on some sort of heavenly growth-chart, we only grow as we become more and more convinced of God’s holiness and the absence of true holiness in our own lives, mortifying sin and living obediently Coram Deo, before the face of God, for the glory of God on account of God the Son in whom we died and in whom we have been raised to abundant life.” Pastor Burk Parsons

As a young believer in Christ, people informed me about the importance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Later, as a Bible college student and then a seminarian, I observed many discussions, in and out of the classroom, regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, I rarely encountered discussions regarding the Fruits of the Spirit and their importance in the mortification of sin. While I have seen tests and examinations about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and which ones you may possess, I don’t believe I have ever encountered a test on the aforementioned fruits. I wonder why this is so?

The Scriptures tell us that no believer possesses all of the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12) but each believer is to evidence and demonstrate the fruits. The fruits found in Galatians 5:22-23 have much more to do with spiritual maturity than the gifts. It is only as the Fruits of the Spirit are prevalent in the one’s use of the Gifts of the Spirit that the believer glorifies the LORD. For the next several days, we will examine each of the fruits found in Galatians 5:22-23 and how they factor into our pursuit of the mortification of sin.

To begin with, it is important to understand the immediate context that Galatians 5:22-23 is found. Galatians 5:22 begins with conjunction of contrast “but.” It is necessary for us to know what Galatians 5:22-23 stands in contrast. That is found in Galatians 5:16-21.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

To walk by the Spirit is another way of saying to live obediently before God. It is a daily lifestyle and not a weekly adrenaline rush from Sunday to Sunday. It is a continual quest that God commands each believer to pursue. It is not optional.

Also, the desires of the flesh are in conflict with the desires of the Spirit. The Scriptures say that they are opposed to each other. In other words, they are hostile to each other. They are not compatible.

To walk in the Spirit is in contrast to gratifying the desires of the flesh. We will examine what these desires actually are when next we meet.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: John Owen on The Mortification of Sin.

“The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.”  John Owen from The Mortification of Sin. 

John Owen (1616 – 1683) was one of the Westminster Divines, Dean of Christ Church of Oxford, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, and chaplain to English Puritan Oliver Cromwell. His treatise on The Mortification of Sin was written in 1656, approximately 150 years after Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Chapel. It was 100 years after the slaughter of the Hugenots in France, and just 45 years after the King James Bible was published (1611).

Owen explains what it means to kill sin in our lives. He maintains that killing sin is a path that believers in Christ must take toward personal holiness. It is how believers maintain intimate fellowship with God by honoring Him with their obedience. This is accomplished in cooperation with, and under the power of, the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Owen explains that holiness is not simply a list of do’s and don’ts. How many of us were taught that we shouldn’t go to movies or listen to any type of secular music and that by doing so we would become holy? Rather, holiness occurs when we renounce our lifestyle of sin, and devote ourselves to God. It is an attitude toward God more than perfect behavior. We are commanded to “be holy” so that we will be like our Father in heaven (Lev. 11:44, Lev. 19:2, Lev. 20:26, 1Cor. 1:2, Eph. 1:4, Heb. 12:14, 1 Pet. 1:14-16). That means our attitude toward sin needs to be centered on God, not on ourselves.

Author Jerry Bridges explains that, “Mortification of sin (or pursuing holiness) is not what we are against (sin), but what we are for (God) that counts. Joseph understood this idea when tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:9). David said, “Against you only have I sinned” (Ps. 51:4). We sin against God, not other people. Because sin separates us from God, we want to kill it to draw closer to Him. If that is our motive and our purpose, then we can succeed in killing it. Too often we attack sin because we worry about what others think of us, or how we feel about ourselves. That is not what holiness is about. That would be self-centered.

A key principle Owen teaches is that sin is more a reflection of our heart than our behavior. It is the inward desire, and not just the outward action, that must be killed. As one commentator says, “The sins we commit are just symptoms of an underlying deadly disease. Sin kills, and so we need to kill it before it kills us. It destroys relationships; it shames us; and it ruins our full enjoyment of life. But with faith in Christ, and by the power of His Spirit, we can overcome sin so that it no longer rules us.

Owen explains that sin never leaves us, and it never stops trying to control us. He calls it “residing sin.” All our lives, we either let sin control us, or we let the Spirit of Christ control us. Owen writes about what happens to believers in Christ when we let sin control us, or when we let one particular desire rule us. He is not talking about sin’s presence in our lives, but rather its power.

Owen provides the tools and the perspective we need to master sin. He writes about a mind controlled by the Spirit. Consequently, our sinful desires become so weak that they cannot produce the deeds of sin. Or as one pastor explains, “Using Owen’s analogy of disease and symptoms, the disease is so controlled that the visible outbreaks of infection disappear.”

There are several categories Owen’s uses for sin which will assist the reader. These include:

  • Categorical“sin” or “lust” refers to the overall desire (the sinful nature or lust of the flesh)
  • Singular“sin” or “lust” refers to our specific desire for something
  • The word “deed” refers to acting on the desire (committing the sin).
  • The word “wound” refers to the effect of the deed on our conscience and on those around us.

A downloadable eBook of John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin, updated in modern English, is available at monergism.com. It may be assessed by searching either for The Mortification of Sin or John Owen.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Mortification of Sin: Confession. Part 2.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

As we have noted in our previous blog, confession is more than just verbally acknowledging that we have done something wrong or failed to do something right in the sight of God. Confession also means to acknowledge our sin to God and to have the same perspective towards it as God does. Confession means to see our sin as the cosmic treason against God that it is. We are to confess our sin to God while at the same time seeking to live lives which glorify Him. In other words, confession involves not only acknowledgment of sin but also a turning away, or repentance, of it.  

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson explains that confession involves four basic disciplines.

First, admit sin for what it really is. Call a spade a spade — call it “sexual immorality,” not “I’m being tempted a little”; call it “impurity,” not “I’m struggling with my thought life”; call it “evil desire, which is idolatry,” not “I think I need to order my priorities a bit better. How powerfully this unmasks self-deceit — and helps us to unmask sin lurking in the hidden corners of our hearts!”

Second, see sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence. “My sin leads to — not lasting pleasure — but holy divine displeasure. See the true nature of your sin in the light of its punishment. Too easily do we think that sin is less serious in Christians than it is in non-believers: “It’s forgiven, isn’t it?” Not if we continue in it (1 John 3:9)! Take a heaven’s-eye view of sin and feel the shame of that in which you once walked (Col. 3:7; see also Rom. 6:21).”

Third, recognize the inconsistency of your sin. “You put off the “old man,” and have put on the “new man” (3:9–10). You are no longer the “old man.” The identity you had “in Adam” is gone. The old man was “crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin [probably “life in the body dominated by sin”] might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). New men live new lives. Anything less than this is a contradiction of who I am “in Christ.”

Fourth, put sin to death (Col. 3:5). “It is as “simple” as that. Refuse it, starve it, and reject it. You cannot “mortify” sin without the pain of the kill. There is no other way!”

Dr. Ferguson concludes by saying, “The negative task of putting sin to death will not be accomplished in isolation from the positive call of the Gospel to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14). Paul spells this out in Colossians 3:12–17. Sweeping the house clean simply leaves us open to a further invasion of sin. But when we understand the “glorious exchange” principle of the Gospel of grace, then we will begin to make some real advance in holiness. As sinful desires and habits are not only rejected, but exchanged for Christ-like graces (3:12) and actions (3:13); as we are clothed in Christ’s character and His graces are held together by love (v. 14), not only in our private life but also in the church fellowship (vv. 12–16), Christ’s name and glory are manifested and exalted in and among us (3:17).”

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

LORD’S DAY 23, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 23 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses the subject of God the Holy Spirit.

Q. What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?

A. In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting.1

1 John 3:36Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4); Rom. 5:1-2.

Q. How are you righteous before God?

A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.1 Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, of never having kept any of them,2
and of still being inclined toward all evil,3 nevertheless, without any merit of my own,4 out of sheer grace,5 God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,6 as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.7 All I need to do is accept this gift with a believing heart.8

1 Rom. 3:21-28Gal. 2:16Eph. 2:8-9Phil 3:8-11.
2 Rom. 3:9-10.
3 Rom. 7:23.
4 Tit. 3:4-5.
5 Rom. 3:24Eph. 2:8.
6 Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-191 John 2:1-2.
7 Rom. 4:24-252 Cor. 5:21.
8 John 3:18Acts 16:30-31.

Q. Why do you say that through faith alone you are righteous?

A. Not because I please God by the worthiness of my faith. It is because only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me righteous before God,1 and because I can accept this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than through faith.2

1 1 Cor. 1:30-31.
2 Rom. 10:101 John 5:10-12.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Mortification of Sin: Confession.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (I John 1:6-10)

The Epistle of I John addresses the theme of authentic faith. For faith to be authentic it must be true, real and genuine. The reason the Holy Spirit used the Apostle John to write this inspired first epistle was two-fold. It was not only because false teachers were denying the bodily incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also because they were claiming to be Christians while living sinfully.

We should not misunderstand. John was not teaching that unless we are sinless and perfect we do not truly belong to Christ? Rather, he wrote of the tension between being counted righteous before God on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ, while at the same time struggling with daily sin in our lives.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Perhaps the formula that Martin Luther used that is most famous and most telling is his formula simul justus et peccatorSimul is the word from which we get the English word simultaneously. Or, it means ‘at the same time.’ Justus is the Latin word for just or righteous. Et means and. Peccator means sinner. And so with this formula, Luther was saying, in our justification we are one and the same time righteous or just, and sinners. Now if he would say that we are at the same time and in the same relationship just and sinners that would be a contradiction in terms. But that’s not what he was saying. He was saying from one perspective, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, from a different perspective, we are sinners; and how he defines that is simple. In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.”

One of the biblical tests of an individual’s authentic faith in Christ is the struggle with one’s daily sin. One of our responses to when we sin, and our efforts to mortify sin, is to confess our sin to God. What does it mean to confess?

Confession is more than just verbally acknowledging that we have done something wrong or failed to do something right in the sight of God. Confession also means to acknowledge our sin to God and to have the same perspective towards it as God does. Confession means to see our sin as the cosmic treason against God that it is. We are to confess our sin to God while at the same time seeking to live lives which glorify Him. In other words, confession involves not only acknowledgment of sin but also a turning away, or repentance, of it.  

As one commentator states, “It appears that the false teachers John has in mind were not only unconcerned with the dark deeds they were performing, they also claimed to be without sin altogether. But such a denial only further evidenced their lack of authentic faith. In this section, John tells us the Christian life is in one sense a life lived in tension. On the one hand, believers will live such good lives that it can be said we walk in the light (vv. 6–7). On the other hand, truly walking in the light will clearly reveal to us the reality of remaining sin, reminding us of our need for repentance and forgiveness (vv. 8, 10).”

Confession and repentance needs to be done daily. It may even occur on a moment by moment basis when the Lord brings your sin to your attention. When that happens, acknowledge your sin to God and ask for His forgiveness on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ that you possess by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Finally, confession does not ensure you remain a child of God. Rather, confession ensures that the believer remains in close fellowship with God.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: Biblical Principles.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 ESV)

“If we do not abide in prayer, we shall abide in cursed temptations.” Puritan John Owen

Pastor Sinclair Ferguson recalls a conversation he had with a young pastor who came to him for advice. Dr. Ferguson shares, My friend — a younger minister — sat down with me at the end of a conference in his church and said: “Before we retire tonight, just take me through the steps that are involved in helping someone mortify sin.” We sat talking about this for a little longer and then went to bed, hopefully he was feeling as blessed as I did by our conversation. I still wonder whether he was asking his question as a pastor or simply for himself — or both.”

How would you have responded? How did Dr. Ferguson respond? He said, “The first thing to do is: Turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea!), or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from “the mouth of God” so that the principles we are learning to apply carry with them both the authority of God and the promise of God to make them work. 

What Scriptures should we specifically read in order to meditate, memorize and apply in our lives so we can put sin to death? Here are some Dr. Ferguson recommend: Romans 8:1-13; Romans 13:8–14 (Augustine’s text); 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1; Ephesians 4:17–5:21; Colossians 3:1–17; 1 Peter 4:1–11; 1 John 2:28–3:11. All of these passages, while not all use the word “mortify,” do address the subject and discipline of the mortification of sin.

Let’s use Colossians 3:1-17 as our biblical source in addressing the subject of mortifying our sin. What does the Apostle Paul have to say in this particular text? I respectfully borrow Pastor’s Ferguson’s outline and observations from the text.

First, Paul underlines how important it is for us to be familiar with our new identity in Christ (3:1–4). If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Principle number one, then, is: Know, rest in, think through, and act upon your new identity — you are in Christ.

Second, Paul goes on to expose the workings of sin in every area of our lives (Col. 3:5–11). Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Principle Two: Mortifying sin is a whole-of-life change.

Third, Paul also focuses upon the workings of righteousness in every area of our lives (Col. 3:12-17). “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Principle Three: Mortifying sin is not only what God calls believers not to do, but also what God calls them to do.

In his preface of his book The Mortification of Sin, John Owen wrote, “I hope…that mortification and holiness may be promoted in my heart and in the hearts and lives of others, to the glory of God; and that in this way the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be adorned in all things.” 

More to come! May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: How to do it!

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:11-13)

Mortification, or to mortify, means to degrade, humiliate, crush and confound. Within the context of our subject, what the believer in Christ is called by God to degrade, humiliate, crush and confound is sin. This sin in question is not anybody else’s sin but rather the believer’s own sin.

It has been noted that the Apostle Paul specifically refers to this action of mortification in Romans 8:11-13. In a cause and effect statement, Paul says that since the Holy Spirit indwells the believer in Christ, and since this is the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and since the same Holy Spirit will resurrect our dead bodies, we are then no longer debtors to live according to the flesh, or sinful desires, but rather to live according to, and by, the Holy Spirit. The way to do this is by putting to death the sinful deeds of the body.

Putting sin to death, from the Greek word θανατοῦτε (thanatoute), means to completely stop or cease. In other words, to execute. This is an action the believer in Christ is called upon to actively, presently and personally pursue daily. In other words, God calls the believer in Christ, because of their position in Christ, to commit pre-meditated murder against their personal sin. To do so gives evidence that the believer in Christ is obediently conducting themselves in a manner prescribed by Scripture (Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:1-11; 2 Timothy 3:12).

This is, respectfully, all well and good. But how does the believer in Christ go about this process of mortification? Remember, the mortification of sin is not about how to become a Christian but rather embracing one of the fundamental disciplines of life and living which defines and evidences that one is indeed a believer in Christ.

Let us go back to our original question from the previous paragraph. How do believers go about the lifelong process of mortifying, or killing, the sin in their lives? Here are some biblical suggestions.

First, see your sin as God sees it. Confess your sin to God and acknowledge it as the cosmic treason against God that it truly is. Do not make excuses for sin and do not try to justify your sin. Obliterate the idea that whatever sin you are committing is to be tolerated, or accepted, by the un-biblical perspective of, “well, that’s just the way I am.”

Secondly, set you heart/soul upon God and His Word. Do it daily! For example, meditate upon the following biblical texts which focus on personal righteousness. It would be good to memorize them.

  • Psalm 1:1-2 – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
  • Psalm 19:7-11 – “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
  • Psalm 57:7 – “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!”
  • Psalm 119:11 – “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
  • Haggai 1:5-7 – “Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways.”
  • Colossians 3:1-4 – “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
  • I Peter 2:11 – “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
  • I Peter 4:7 – “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
  • I John 1:8-10 – “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Third, commune regularly in prayer to God. Pour your heart out to God about the sin you are battling and which seems relentless. Remember, God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

Fourth, practice obedience to God in every area of your life. No exceptions! No excuses! As one pastor has observed, “Doing God’s will and His will alone in all the small issues of life can be training in habits that will hold up in the severe times of temptation.”

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: A Definition.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:11-13)

 Our next study is on the subject entitled The Mortification of Sin. This may seem to be a strange title for a series and it may even appear to be archaic, old-fashioned and outdated. I mean, who talks about sin anymore? Isn’t the Christian life about being relevant to the world, tolerant of other people’s lifestyles and pursuing your best life now of personal peace and affluence? This is certainly the message we hear from many popular so-called Christian authors.

However, the Scriptures not only address God delivering the sinner from the penalty of sin, which is hell, along with the presence of sin, which is heaven, but also the power of sin, which involves our day to day living. The deliverance from the power of sin involves the mortification of sin.

What exactly do we mean by the phrase the mortification of sin? Mortification, or to mortify, means to degrade, humiliate, crush and confound. Within the context of our subject, what the believer in Christ is called by God to degrade, humiliate, crush and confound is sin. This sin in question is not anybody else’s sin but rather the believer’s own sin.

The Apostle Paul refers to this action of mortification in Romans 8:11-13. In a cause and effect statement, Paul says that since the Holy Spirit indwells the believer in Christ, and since this the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and since the same Holy Spirit will resurrect our dead bodies, we are then no longer debtors to live according to the flesh, or sinful desires, but rather to live according to, and by, the Holy Spirit. The way to do this is by putting to death the sinful deeds of the body.

The Authorized Version Translation (KJV) translates Romans 8:13 as follows: For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

The phrase, put to death, is from the Greek word θανατοῦτε (thanatoute) which means to completely stop or cease. In other words, to execute. This is an action the believer in Christ is called upon to actively, presently and personally pursue daily. In other words, God calls the believer in Christ, because of their positon in Christ, to commit pre-meditated murder against their personal sin. This does not mean the believer is to commit murder against their body, or anyone else’s physical life, but rather against their own sin thoughts, behavior and desires.

The believer in Christ should not misunderstand what Paul is saying. He is not saying that by the behavior and discipline of putting their sin to death that this assures the believer, on the basis of their efforts, that they will inherit eternal. That would result in the sinner pursuing a works based salvation other than trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ and person and atoning work alone.

What Paul means is that by putting sin to death, the believer in Christ truly demonstrates that they are truly a child of God. In other words, they evidence their true conversion of not only possessing eternal life in Christ currently on earth, but also the confident expectation (hope) of eternal life in the future with Christ in heaven.

Dr. R .C. Sproul explains that, “The body is not evil of itself. Sin originates in the heart, the spiritual center of our being including the will (Mark 7:18-23). But since we live in physical bodies, sin finds expression through the body. Therefore, not only at the inner points of origin, but also in its bodily expressions, sin must be put to death, that is, terminated.”

Parallel passages in Paul’s Letter to the Romans includes Romans 6:12-13 which says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

Another familiar passage regarding this subject is found in Romans 12:1-2 which says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What are some particular sins we can personally identify as ones we have committed and perhaps continually commit? Also, how do we go about putting these particular sins to death? These are but a couple of questions we will begin to address as we continue to explore the subject of the Mortification of Sin.

Finally, Dr. John MacArthur says, “The world doesn’t judge us (Believer’s in Christ) by our theology; it judges us by our behavior. The vitality of Scripture in the word’s view is determined by how it affects us.”

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habakkuk: Conclusion!

“You are my refuge in the day of disaster” (Jeremiah 17:17).

In concluding our study in the Book of Habakkuk, I reproduce for you a devotional taken from Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon’s book Morning and Evening. Spurgeon’s thoughts provide a fitting conclusion to the theme of the righteous living by their faith (Habakkuk 2:4) even in the midst of trials.  

“The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. It is true that God’s Word says, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17) and it is a great truth that faith is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above. But life confirms that if the experience of the righteous is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day,” (Proverbs 4:18) sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain period’s clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.”

“There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the early stages of their Christian life; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters.” But suddenly they find that the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the promised land they have to endure the wilderness; in place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Do not say that if you are walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the bitter potion; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his heart in constant tune.”

“Perhaps the Lord gave you in the beginning a smooth and unclouded path because you were weak and timid. He moderated the wind on account of your weakness, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten branches of self-reliance, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.”

 Have a blessed day in the LORD and may the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Habakkuk: God, the Lord is my Strength.

“GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” (Habakkuk 3:19)

In the struggle to understand the issues of life, especially the reality of evil and its consequences, the believer in Christ has only one resolve and resource: to trust in the LORD and to daily flee to Him. All other resources may fail, even our closest friends and family, but the LORD is faithful.

Habakkuk comes to this fitting conclusion when he writes, ““GOD, the Lord, is my strength.” It is interesting to note that the noun GOD is the English word for Yahweh. It is normally translated by the noun LORD (6,399 times), but in this instance we find the word GOD (314 times). It still means self-existent One and it remains the most personal name for God.

GOD, the Lord. Here we have the Hebrew word Adonai. Adonai refers to the Lord our master, ruler and sovereign. The name also implies a relationship based upon promise and covenant. I was asked one time where the word “sovereign” or “sovereignty” occurs in the Bible. I would say every time the word Lord appears.

Yahweh, the Adonai is Habakkuk’s strength. The self-sufficient and sovereign God of the universe is the prophet’s power, ability, and even physical strength. It is this sovereign God who gives Habakkuk, and each believer, sure footedness during the most troubling times. Habakkuk refers to the surefootedness of the deer who has no qualms treading on the high places and rocky cliffs.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “The unfailing source of strength and confidence necessary to satisfaction and contentment is the Sovereign (’ădōnāy) Lord (Yahweh) Himself. The strength He gives is like the power found in the feet of a deer, a gazelle, or any active, swift-footed animal. Much as a deer can quickly bound through a dark forest, so the prophet said he could move joyfully through difficult circumstances. Though his legs trembled (v. 16) at the awesome theophany of God, that same Lord was His joy (v. 18), strength (v. 19), and assurance.”

Dr. Walvoord concludes by saying, “God enabled the prophet to walk on the heights. Not only would he bound through trials; he would also climb to the mountaintops of victory and triumph. The poetic language of this verse is common in other passages (e.g., Deut. 32:13; 2 Sam. 22:34; Ps. 18:33). A deer or gazelle pictures strength, surefootedness, beauty, and speed.”

The prophetical book concludes with the statement “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” This points the reader back to 3:1 and the use of this prophecy as a song of worship. The dirge of the prophet’s complaint (1:2-2:1) has given way to the joy of praise and thanksgiving.

How often is that the tendency with believers today? The stress and complaint of problems ultimately gives way to the praise and thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness. Our living by sight gives way to living by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!