[Papercut Press Publishing] 1998-03-30 - Mortification

Galatians 5:19-21 "The works of the flesh are clear, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousy, hostility, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; and they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Here we have the foundation of happiness or misery laid before us. And we have a choice to be happy or to be miserable. We could call these verses in Galatians the enlisted army of wickedness. This is not an army we can avoid engaging in battle. We must either overcome this army or it will kill us. This is what the church has historically called the doctrine of mortification. Or more simply, the act of putting to death the deeds and actions of the flesh and putting on the righteousness of Christ.

I was reminded of this doctrine when I played soccer with some friends on Friday. It sure felt like I was putting my flesh to death, literally. I'm still a little sore. But later it gave me the opportunity for some reflection on the spiritual side of putting the flesh to death. If the great business of my life is to be living more to the standards of Christlikeness and less to outward acts of sin and inward blisters of impure inclinations, how am I doing? The answer, well, that's between me and the Lord.

It is hard to put out a bonfire by putting more wood on it. So also it is hard to put an end to a sinful practice by cherishing it and practicing it. It would be nonsense to think about mortifying sin by pampering and continuing on in it.

I am a strong defender of salvation by the efficacious grace of Christ through faith in His work of atonement. Ephesians 2:8,9. However, lets not avoid what those above verses in Galatians are saying. To practice such things in the above list, or the all inclusive, "and such like", is to not inherit the kingdom of God. There is no getting around what the verse is saying, do these things = no heaven.

This makes the above question that I asked of myself an important one for all of us to be asking ourselves. How am I doing at my task of putting to death the deeds of the flesh? In addition, am I living more and more for Christ? Christian you are at war, fight valiantly.

"Jesus invited us not to a picnic but to a pilgrimage; not to a frolic but to a fight." Billy Graham

"God has appointed this whole life to be all as a race or a battle; the state of rest, wherein we shall be so out of danger as to have no need of watching and fighting, is for another world." Jonathan Edwards

Soli Deo Gloria,