The Mortification of Sin: Final Thoughts!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24)

“Mortification (of sin) involves the habitual weakening of sin, and constant fighting against it with a measure of success. The battle needs to be perpetual because each manifestation of sin contains the seeds of sin’s dominion, and inclines to the same end. There is a necessary universal crucifying of the flesh by which sin is weakened.” Sinclair Ferguson

By the same standards and principles outlines by Dr. Ferguson regarding the mortification of sin, likewise the fostering of the Fruit of the Spirit involves the habitual strengthening of this fruit and the constant nurturing of it with a measure of success. The effort needs to be perpetual because each manifestation of the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control contains the seeds of righteousness’ dominion and inclines to the same end. There is a necessary and universal nurturing by the Spirit by which holiness is strengthened.

The metaphor of fruit would not have been lost by the first century reader and recipients of Paul’s letter. In an agricultural society where orchards abounded, the constant discipline of pruning, or mortification of dead branches, and caretaking of the living branches was a daily activity: in season and out of season. The harvest of plenty  depended upon the farmer’s preceding pruning, nurturing and cultivating.

When the Apostle Paul concludes his list of the Fruit of the Spirit, he adds this qualifying statement: “against such things there is no law.” What does he mean?

What the apostle means is the there is no outside law which can produce the Fruit of the Spirit. No legislation has the ability to produce these qualities within the heart of man. In fact, the law is against and in opposition to such characteristics. It cannot produce them. Only the Holy Spirit is able to accomplish such a work and produce such qualities of spiritual vitality.

It therefore stands to reason that if an individual does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, there will be no Fruit of the Spirit in their life (Romans 8:9). In other words, the Fruit of the Spirit is available only for believers in Jesus Christ.

Finally, what does Paul mean by the statement “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires?” One biblical commentary adds this explanation.

“They (the believer in Christ) nailed it to the cross once for all when they became Christ’s, on believing and being baptized (Ro 6:3, 4): they keep it now in a state of crucifixion (Ro 6:6): so that the Spirit can produce in them, comparatively uninterrupted by it, “the fruit of the Spirit” (Ga 5:22). “Man, by faith, is dead to the former standing point of a sinful life, and rises to a new life (Ga 5:25) of communion with Christ (Col 3:3). The act by which they have crucified the flesh with its lust, is already accomplished ideally in principle. But the practice, or outward conformation of the life, must harmonize with the tendency given to the inward life” (Ga 5:25). We are to be executioners, dealing cruelly with the body of sin, which has caused the acting of all cruelties on Christ’s body.”

What practices and disciplines are a part of your daily life in Christ by which the Holy Spirit assists you in mortifying your sin? Are you reading, contemplating and memorizing Scripture (Psalm 1; Psalm 19; Psalm 119)? Are you constantly in prayer (I Thessalonians 5:17)? Are you maintaining weekly worship habits by gathering with other believers and submitting to the preaching of God’s Word (Hebrews 10:24-25)?

These are but three disciplines Scripture gives us by which believers may, and can, mortify their sin. May God give each of us the strength and desire to be obedient to His command to do so.

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

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control.

“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)

“The Holy Spirit is the only sufficient means of true mortification. Mortification is a gift of the Crucified, Risen, Ascended Christ, and is mediated through the Spirit. He works in three ways. He causes the heart to abound in grace and in the fruit of the Spirit. The antidote to corruption is being filled with the Spirit. But He also acts in a real physical efficiency on the root and habit of sin, for the weakening, destroying, and taking it away.” Sinclair Ferguson

Self-control (ἐγκράτεια; enkrateia) means to actively exercise complete control over one’s desires and actions. This pursuit is a cooperative effort by the believer in Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. In other words, self-control is to make one’s heart (intellect; emotions; will) obedient to the Word of God.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 says, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

The Apostle Paul saw the importance of exercising self-control in his personal walk in Christ. He knew that it only took one, unguarded moment to undermine a lifetime of ministry and service.

Proverbs 4:23-27 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

Self-control involves guarding what you say. It also means guarding what you look at or gaze upon. Additionally, it means considering where you are going and what you plan on doing when you arrive at your destination. Self-control means to turn away from evil.

Dr. R. C. Sproul says, “Basically, to have self-control means that we behave in a manner appropriate to the given situation. It means we defer when it is appropriate to defer. It means we speak when we need to speak. It means that we control our tempers and do not blow up every time things do not go our way. It means that we ignore the minor mistakes of others instead of trying to prove that we are always right.”

However, self-control also means that we stand for the truth of God at all times. Dr. Sproul comments that, “When we seek to practice self-control in our lives, we must take care that we do not become wimps. Jonathan Edwards offers helpful advice by saying that when it comes to matters of truth and integrity, we cannot yield to other people. If someone is teaching rank heresy, for example, exercising self-control and behaving in a manner appropriate to the situation means that we call attention to the matter and stand up for the truth.

Are you a person who displays self-control? What are your strong areas regarding this Fruit of the Spirit?  What are your weak-points? Ask God to reveal to you the areas of your life where your self-control is strong and the areas in which you need His strength to become more self-controlled.

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

Soli deo Gloria!

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

“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)

The key verse in the Book of Habakkuk is 2:4 which says, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” This verse is restated three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38) to not only refer to the basis of our relationship with God but also the believer’s perseverance in that relationship.

In explaining Romans 1:17, Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Paul intends to prove that it has always been God’s way to justify sinners by grace on the basis of faith alone. God established Abraham as a pattern of faith (Rom. 4:22–25Gal. 3:6–7) and thus calls him the father of all who believe (Rom. 4:11, 16). Elsewhere, Paul uses this same phrase to argue that no one has ever been declared righteous before God except by faith alone (Gal. 3:11) and that true faith will demonstrate itself in action (Phil. 2:12–13). This expression emphasizes that true faith is not a single event, but a way of life—it endures. That endurance is called the perseverance of the saints (cf. Col. 1:22–23Heb. 3:12–14). One central theme of the story of Job is that no matter what Satan does, saving faith cannot be destroyed.”

God calls the believer in Christ to live a life of faithfulness. Faithfulness (πίστις; pistis) in this context, and in harmony with the definition of faith, means to be a person who trusts in, depends upon, is committed to and honors and worships the Lord Jesus Christ by grace alone in His person and work. Additionally, it also means to be an individual who is trustworthy, dependable, committed and honorable.

A faithful person is a person of integrity. He is an undivided individual. What they say is what they do. What they do verifies what they say. It is a person upon whom you can trust, depend, commit to and honor.

A faithful individual is a blessing when they are your husband, wife, son, daughter, father or mother. What a joy to have grandparents who are known by their faithfulness.

Proverbs 3:3-4 says, Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” Do you want to leave a legacy of favor and good success? Do you want to be remembered as a successful man? Then be a man of faithfulness.

Consider the faithful legacy of Onesiphorus. Is he unfamiliar to you? I’m sure he is to many. However, he was a man one could trust, depend, commit to and who was honorable. This is what the Apostle Paul had to say about Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy 1:15-18.

“You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.”

Paul knew the pain of unfaithful people like Phygelus and Hermogenes. They were among the many who proved to be unfaithful not only to Paul but also to the gospel.

However, Onesiphorus was one of the few who proved to be faithful. He refreshed Paul while the apostle was in prison. He was not ashamed to be seen with Paul. He also earnestly searched to find Paul upon arriving in the City of Rome. Onesiphorus had also served the Lord in Ephesus. He demonstrated to the apostle and to the church that he embodied faithfulness.

Are you known by your faithfulness to the Lord and to others? Are you striving to not only live, but also leave, that kind of legacy? What a heritage to leave for those who follow is a life of faithfulness.

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

Soli deo Gloria!    

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

“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)

Mortifying sin is not only getting rid of our sinful behavior but also putting into practice godly behavior. This is the basis for believers to evidence the Fruit of the Spirit. This is the basis for believers to evidence the fruit of kindness.

Ephesians 4:32 says, ““Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The statement “be kind” is an imperative statement. It is a command. It is not a request from God but rather a divine directive from God.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, Ephesians 4:32 describes another of these habits and dispositions — the practice of kindness and forgiveness. Such a calling is not optional but rather is integral to our salvation. Jesus, after all, says that our forgiveness of others is tied directly to God’s pardoning of our sins (Matt. 6:14–15). Certainly our Savior does not mean that we merit divine forgiveness by extending grace to those who offend us. Forgiveness is God’s gift, and we can do nothing to earn it (Eph. 2:8–9). Nevertheless, those whom the Lord forgives understand the depth of their depravity and that they are wholly undeserving of His mercy. They realize that if the perfect Creator forgives them, then they, who are imperfect people, can do no less.”

Kindness (χρηστότης; chrestotes) means to provide something beneficial for someone. Synonyms include compassion, gentleness, thoughtfulness and helpfulness. Self-sacrificial love of the will, as addressed in I Corinthians 13:4, is a love that acts kindly towards others. Colossians 3:12 directs believers to put on kindness.

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “Kindness (chrēstotēs) is benevolence in action such as God demonstrated toward men. Since God is kind toward sinners (cf. Rom. 2:4; Eph. 2:7) a Christian should display the same virtue (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 3:12).”

A story is told that despite his busy schedule during the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln often visited the hospitals to cheer the wounded. On one occasion he saw a young fellow who was near death. “Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the compassionate President. “Please write a letter to my mother,” came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down and wrote as the youth told him what to say.

The letter read, “My Dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and father. Kiss Mary and John for me.” The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: “Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.”

Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. “Are you really our President?” he asked. “Yes,” was the quiet answer. “Now, is there anything else I can do?” The lad feebly replied, “Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.” The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.

We may never become President of the United States, we may never suffer a mortal wound while serving in the military, but we can be kind to one another.

In what ways can you be kind to others today? Put you kindness into action.

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

Soli deo Gloria!                                                                                            

 

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

“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)

One of my favorite passages from The Epistle to the Romans is Romans 5:1 which says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The peace (εἰρήνην; eirenen) of which the Apostle Paul speaks is a tranquility and a freedom from worry. This freedom from worry is regarding our status with the One, True, Holy God of the universe. There is no more enmity or strife between the believer and God.

Why?  It is because the believer in Christ has been justified by grace alone, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. The phrase “justified by faith” is a shorthand statement including both grace and Jesus Christ.

To be justified (Δικαιωθέντες; dikaiothentes) means that God has declared the sinner righteous before Him. The sinner’s guilt has been removed and God has set him free from the penalty of sin: hell. This justification is through the God-given instrument of faith. Faith is trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and honor and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does Romans 5:1 have to do with Galatians 5:22 and the Fruit of the Spirit of peace? Plenty! For you see the peace of which the Apostle Paul speaks of regarding our peace with God is also related to the peace from God the Holy Spirit.

The spiritual fruit of peace (εἰρήνη; eirene) is also a freedom from worry and a tranquility of one’s soul. However, in Galatians 5:22 the peace mentioned refers to how the believer in Christ, who has peace with God by virtue of their justification by faith, is able to have peace while navigating through the storms of living in a sinful and fallen world.

Peace comes from Christ (John 14:27). It is a blessed quietness even in the face of the harshest circumstances. God’s peace defies human understanding (Philippians 4:7).  

Dr. John MacArthur writes that peace is, “The inner calm that results from confidence in one’s saving relationship with Christ. The verb form denotes binding together and is reflected in the expression “having it all together.” Like joy, peace is not related to one’s circumstances (John 14:27Rom. 8:28Phil. 4:6–7, 9).”

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, In defeating the world, Jesus has also granted us true peace. We are on God’s side in Christ, for He has reconciled us to the Father, and the defeat of God’s enemies on the cross is the defeat of our enemies. Furthermore, since our war with God has ended, we can live at peace with others as far as it depends on us (Rom. 12:18). We can rest peacefully in this evil world because we have already won the victory.”

What areas of your life are the most peaceful? Home? Church? Work? Where do find the greatest adversaries of peace? Home? Church? Work? Remember that peace, true and lasting peace, is rooted and grounded in the love that God has shown you in the Lord Jesus Christ. Be truly at peace today.

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

Soli deo Gloria!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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!