Mortification - Putting Sin to Death

            To really pursue holiness requires that we take action.  Any action we take must be taken in the power of and under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot rely on our own strength.  Mortification is one action we are called to take.  It is the painful and effective discipline of rooting out and putting to death sin.

            "So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh - for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live."  Romans 8: 12 - 13

            "Put to death, therefore, whatever remains of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust evil desires and greed, which is idolatry."  Colossians 3: 5

            First we need to know our enemy.  Sin is deeply rooted in our nature.  Galatians 5: 17 & Romans 7: 19 - 20 & I Peter 2: 11.  Sin is at war with us, it seeks our ruin; and the only way to preserve ourselves is to fight back.  Our objective is to put sin to death.  We are called to take the initiative against sin.  This is a lifelong process.  Sin never completely dies in this world no matter how weak it grows.

            We need to know that our position in Christ is one of superiority.  We can win.  We have been united with the risen and living Christ.  We have been given a new life, a new heart, a new nature.  It is no longer our nature to sin.  Our inner nature delights in God's laws.  The Spirit dealt a death blow to sin.  God tells us that sin no longer has dominion over us.  No matter how stubborn or deeply entrenched our sinful habits, sin's reign has ended and sustained pressure cannot fail to uproot it.  Sin's power is broken.  Sin's final destruction is guaranteed.  The Holy Spirit now indwells the believer.  He is 'at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.'  When the Christian fights sin he opposes a dethroned and debilitated foe.  He goes into battle in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit of God.  Read Romans 6.

How do we put sin to death? 

            1.  Pursue and grow in your relationship with God.  The more we nourish and feed our new nature, the less we will be focused on the lusts of the flesh and the more we will be able to stop sin's attempts at regaining control of our hearts.  We feed the new nature with the Word, prayer, worship, witnessing, and obedience.  We can also practice and develop the qualities that are the most opposite of the sin we want to rid ourselves of and destroy.  What will you do to feed your new man?

            2.  We need to be ruthless in starving sin of all that feeds it.  To expect God to kill the lust in us while we still expose ourselves to temptation is crazy.  We have a disturbing tendency to flirt with temptation, even trying to gratify our sinful desires without sinning.  What we need to do is to do everything possible to not feed our lustful desires.  We need to value self-control above self-gratification.  How have you been feeding your sinful nature?  What steps do you need to take to starve your old sinful nature?

            3.  Confession and repentance.  We need to remain sensitive to our sin by disciplining ourselves to confess and repent of sin as soon as we sin.  True repentance involves a resolve not to sin again.  It means going in the opposite direction and practicing the virtues most directly opposed to the sin you are turning from.  See Psalm 51 for a model of true repentance by David.  Incomplete repentance is characterized by remorse, self-reproach or sorrow for sin generated by fear of punishment or guilt without a desire or resolve to forsake sinning.  Have you truly repented or are you satisfied with just feeling a little better getting your sin out in the open?

            4.  Pray.  "you do not have, because you do not ask."  James 4: 2.  Jesus told the disciples to "watch and pray" so they would not enter into temptation.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

We cannot improve the sinful nature (our flesh).  We cannot manage our sinful nature.  We are called to put it to death (kill it).  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  Being true to ourselves (our heart/our flesh) is not an option.  Believers are called to die to self and be faithful and true to our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We are to die to self and be alive to the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are commanded to put on Christ Jesus and make no provision for the flesh.

“I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2: 20).

Assignment:  Memorize  Colossians 3: 1 - 10       

Permission is granted to use this Bible Study outline for personal study and small groups only. 

Study written by Bob Krepps  © 1994 & 2010 all rights reserved


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