There is an evil monster indwelling you Christian. And it’s not the devil or a demon, it’s called your flesh. It’s ruthless, relentless, cunning, subtle and subversive. It is capable of wreaking destruction in all areas of your life and you are NO match for it. It can create callouses and hardness of heart quicker than you’d imagine. It can create evil so pervasive and insidious that the only thing preventing you from acting on it is the lack of an opportunity to do so. Pride, selfishness and licentiousness are only the beginning. Your flesh is working against you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no holidays, vacation or sick days. What do you think will become of you if you just coast along, willingly ignorant? Do you assume victory over sin is possible with a casual attitude about your sin?
You have only one hope, just one.
That is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who empowers you to battle your flesh. The mortification of sin is a duty of every Christian and is a minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, month by month, year by year all out WAR. It requires a certain mean streak in the Christian – a ruthlessness against one’s own flesh.
Christians are experts in all sorts of areas: Politics, Music, Sports, Hobbies, Cooking, Vocations, Fashion, Hunting, Home Decor, Video Games, Social Media and everything in between.
Question for you:
Are you an expert in the area of the mortification of sin – The Christian duty of sin-killing? Do you strive to hone your craft each day as you make war on the enemy? Is it even on your mind? Or are you a rank amateur with no intention or desire to change?
Here are a couple of excerpts from John Owen’s classic work on the topic and exposition of Romans 8:13.
“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.”
John Owen (1616 – 1683) – Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers
“All other ways of mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must be done by the Spirit. Men… may attempt this work on other principles, by means and advantages administered on other accounts, as they always have done, and do: but, saith he, “This is the work of the Spirit; by him alone is it to be wrought, and by no other power is it to be brought about.” Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world. And this is a second principle of my ensuing discourse.”
To mortify. “If ye put to death;” a metaphorical expression, taken from the putting of any living thing to death. To kill a man, or any other living thing, is to take away the principle of all his strength, vigour, and power, so that he cannot act or exert, or put forth any proper actings of his own; so it is in this case. Indwelling sin is compared to a person, a living person, called “the old man,” with his faculties, and properties, his wisdom, craft, subtlety, strength; this, says the apostle, must be killed, put to death, mortified, — that is, have its power, life, vigour, and strength, to produce its effects, taken away by the Spirit. It is, indeed, meritoriously, and by way of example, utterly mortified and slain by the cross of Christ; and the “old man” is thence said to be “crucified with Christ,” Rom. vi. 6, and ourselves to be “dead” with him, verse 8, and really initially in regeneration, Rom. vi. 3–5, when a principle contrary to it, and destructive of it, Gal. v. 17, is planted in our hearts; but the whole work is by degrees to be carried on towards perfection all our days. Of this more in the process of our discourse. The intendment of the apostle in this prescription of the duty mentioned is, — that the mortification of indwelling sin remaining in our mortal bodies, that it may not have life and power to bring forth the works or deeds of the flesh is the constant duty of believers.