Many a man has spent his whole life in the fight against indwelling sin, in a constant battle, and has never seen a day of comfort, and feel all the time that he is going to faint in the fight. So, to say that strength and joy flows directly from the battle against sin may not be true in the strict sense. Joy and peace are not a product of this Amortification of sin@ as if they were tied directly to it. Heman the Ezrahite Psalm 88 knows first hand of this lack of strength and comfort in his battle against sin. His was a life of ceaseless dying and walking with the Lord, yet terrors and wounds were his portion all his days. Hamen was a servant of God and was chosen to be an example to us when we are distressed. He was a friend of God, and it will be his praise to the end of his days, that it was God who spoke peace and consolation to Heman Isa. 57:18,19. God says that AI will guide him and restore comfort to him@ (v. 18) by a Divine act of creation, Acreating praise on the lips of the mourners@ (v. 19). It was not anything that Heman did; God did it.
Our acts of obedience to God=s will in the death of the Aold man@ may be our way of obtaining peace with God, and He has given us that means; but the bestowing of that peace and strength is the prerogative of the Almighty.
So, what part does mortification play in our actual obtaining the comfort, peace, and vigor that we so desire? What does the killing of the our fleshly desires do for us? What does a man get when he crawls onto an altar and presents himself a living sacrifice to God? The answer to all of this is Nothing! Death is death, and depending on God=s prerogative it can be a very dark time. This is the place of trust and faith, because, you see, our killing of the flesh is not linked in any direct way to our peace and comfort, it is only linked to our obedience and faith that it is God who will do as He pleases with the carcass according to His plan for us. It is through faith in God that all the saints of the past followed God, not for peace and strength, but for obedience=s sake and that was all. It was God who was faithful to deliver, according to His prerogative, and our need.
God has chosen avenues by which He transports to His children His gifts. Adoption and justification, not mortification, are the immediate causes of life, vigor, and comfort. There are privileges of kinship in the Kingdom of God. AI have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel@ Isa 57:18‑19. According to Rom. 8:16 AThe Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.@ Here is the mystery of Godliness; it is God Himself that does the work, in us. It is only our job to obey. I hope that this is a revelation to Christians, because most of what I see is Christians doing, acting, reading, attending, singing, applying rules of conduct, obeying creeds, giving to the poor, and doing good works, and hearing God answer, that He has required none of these thing at their hand.
In our everyday relationship with God the strength, health, courage, peace and consolation of our spiritual lives depend much on our mortification of sin. I said these things depended on mortification, but that they are not the cause of our peace and spiritual health. Mortification is an essential condition, but only as a thing that has an effectual influence toward spiritual health and peace. Why is this so? Because:
1. Sin weakens and darkens the soul. Unmortified sin will hide the truth like a thick blanket spread over us, depriving us of light and oxygen for the soul. King David in Psalm 38 & 40 talks of his condition while living with unmortified sin. He said that it broke all his bones and left him as a spiritual weakling; and he complained of being weak, wounded, and sick. Allowing sin to live in the soul will exhaust and drink up the spirit, and its energy, and cause the soul to look outward for relief.
2. The perfectly tuned soul resonates with the Holy Spirit and is the picture of health. Unmortified sin un-tunes the soul and entangles it with other affections breaking down Godly communion needed for strength and vigor. Love of God is expelled and love of idols (the affections for the world) become our Abeloved.@ To be able to say of God Ayou are my portion@ means the devices used to satisfy all your fears, desires, and hope, which are the souls choice affections, are not entangled with other creative means of the deceptive heart to achieve satisfaction.
3. Unmortified sin is evidenced by our thoughts being filled with contrivances to make provision to satisfy the affections of the soul. The peace our souls require for health is replaced with worthless fleshly acts to bring us happiness. If sin remains unmortified in our hearts we must, over and over again, continuously, be making provision to fulfill the lust thereof. We must always be adorning, the objects of the flesh and its lust to get satisfaction; and this we are able to do while living in the wonderland of our defiled imaginations.
4. Unmortified sin will finally find expression and break out of any feeble attempt to confine it. The ambitious person must be constantly planning and studying, the greedy must be always busy working or contriving, and the sensual, vain person=s eyes are always looking for arousal of their vanity and lust, when they should be engaged in the worship of God. Sin in the heart will rob us of our duty of worship toward God by raising up idols in its stead.
It is in this regard that the strength, vigor, health, and peace, of our spiritual life depends on our mortification of indwelling sin. The lust of the flesh cause men to cry out to God for deliverance and help. When their sins become apparent as sin, and that it isn=t the blessing of God they had so imagined, and they are overwhelmed, they cry out to God, but they are not delivered, and in vain they seek many cures and remedies. ASo Ephraim saw his sickness, and
The death of sin in the heart is like the pruning of a fruit tree, it cuts away the bad so the good can come forth. Mortification of sin in the heart makes room for the graces of God to thrive and grow. An unkempt garden, although planted with precious seed, will produce no life sustaining fruit unless the noxious weeds are removed, and the soil fertilized and tilled. It may even happen that a seed will grow somewhat, but it will be a poor, withered, thing. The good seed will hardly be recognized amongst the thriving weeds.
We must oppose every unclean thought. To give way to sinful thoughts is to build up a wall against God. Sin is the enemy of God and the soul. If sin would have its full expression, every hateful thought or word would be murder; every greedy impulse would be armed robbery or oppression; every sensual imagination, adultery; and every unbelief, atheism.
Mortification of indwelling sin is the soul's vigorous opposition to self as commanded by Christ. Mortification is an act of obedience, not for the express purpose of obtaining gifts, but because we are followers of Jesus. Mortification of indwelling sin and dying to the old man, may not earn us any peace or health, but those things cannot be obtained any other way.