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 This may seem to be a strange title for a series and it may even appear to be archaic, old-fashioned and outdated.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!   







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