And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
~ Galatians 3:29
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
~ Romans 8:9
And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
~ 1 Corinthians 3:23
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:23
Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:7
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
~ Galatians 5:16-18
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
~ Galatians 5:16
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
~ Galatians 6:14
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
~ Romans 6:6
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
~ Romans 8:13
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
~ Romans 13:14
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
~ 1 Peter 2:11
Of the Nature, Principle, and Necessity of Mortification, by John Flavel. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption”.
And they that are Christ’s, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.
Two great trials of our interest in Christ are finished; we now proceed to the third, namely, The mortification of sin: “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.” The scope of the apostle in this context is, to heal the unchristian breaches among the Galatians, prevailing, by the instigation of Satan, to the breach of brotherly love. To cure this, he urges four weighty arguments.
First, From the great commandment, to love one another; upon which the whole law, i.e. all the duties of the second table do depend, ver. 15.
Secondly, He powerfully dissuades them from the consideration of the sad events of their bitter contests, calumnies, and detractions, viz. mutual ruin, and destruction, ver. 15.
Thirdly, He dissuades them from the consideration of the contrariety of these practices unto the Spirit of God, by whom they all profess themselves to be governed, from ver. 17. to ver. 23.
Fourthly, He powerfully dissuades them from these animosities, from the inconsistency of these, or any other lusts of the flesh, with an interest in Christ: “They that are Christ’s, have crucified the flesh,” &c. q. d. You all profess yourselves to be members of Christ, to be followers of him; but how incongruous are these practices to such a profession? Is this the fruit of the dove-like Spirit of Christ? Are these the fruits of your faith and professed mortification? Shall the sheep of Christ snarl and fight like rabid and furious beasts of prey? Tantaene animis caelestibus irae? So much rage in heavenly souls? O how repugnant are these practices with the study of mortification!, which is the great study and endeavour of all that are in Christ! “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” So much for the order of the words; the words themselves are a proposition wherein we have to consider, both
1. The subject.
2. The predicate.
First, The subject of the proposition, they that are Christ’s, viz. “True Christians, real members of Christ; such as truly belong to Christ, such as have given themselves up to be governed by him,” and are indeed acted be his Spirit. such, all such persons (for the indefinite is equipollent to an universal) all such, and none but such.
Secondly, The predicate; “They have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” By flesh we are here to understand carnal concupiscence, the workings and motions of corrupt nature; and by the affections we are to understand, not the natural, but the inordinate affections; for Christ does not abolish and destroy, but correct and regulate the affections of those that are in him: And by crucifying the flesh, we are not to understand the total extinction or perfect subduing of corrupt nature, but only the deposing of corruption from its regency and dominion in the soul; its dominion is taken away, though its life be prolonged for a season; but yet, as death surely, though slowly, follows crucifixion, (the life of crucified persons gradually departing frown them, with their blood) it is just so in the mortification of sin; and therefore what the apostle in this place calls crucifying, he calls in Rom. 8:13. mortifying. “If ye, through the Spirit, do mortify,” “tanatoute”; if ye put to death the deeds of the body: But he chuses, in this place, to call it crucifying, to show not only the conformity there is betwixt the death of Christ and the death of sin, in respect of shame, pain, and lingering slowness; but to denote also the principal means and instruments of mortification, viz. the death, or cross of Jesus Christ, in the virtue whereof believers do mortify the corruptions of their flesh; the great arguments and persuasives to mortification being drawn from the sufferings of Christ for sin. In a word, he does not say, They that believe Christ was crucified for sin, are Christ’s; but they, and they only, are his, who feel as well as profess the power and efficacy of the sufferings of Christ, in the mortification and subduing of their lusts and sinful affections. And so much, briefly, of the parts and sense of the words.
The observation followeth.
Doct. That a saving interest in Christ may be regularly and
strongly inferred and concluded frown the mortification of
the flesh, with its affections and lusts.
This point is fully confirmed by those words of the apostle. Rom. 6:5, 6, 7, 8. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of it might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin: for he that is dead is free from sin: Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
Mark the force of the apostle’s reasoning; if we have been planted into the likeness of his death, viz. by the mortification of sin, which resembles, or has a likeness to the kind and manner of Christ’s death (as was noted above) then we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; and why so, but because the mortification of sin is an undoubted evidence of the union of such a soul with Christ, which is the very ground-work and principle of that blessed and glorious resurrection: And therefore he saith, ver. 11. “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord;” q. d. Reason thus with yourselves, these mortifying influences of the death of Christ are unquestionable presages of your future blessedness, God never taking this course with any but those who are in Christ, and are designed to be glorified with him. The death of your sin is as evidential as any thing in the world can be of your spiritual life for the present, and of your eternal life with God hereafter. Mortification is the fruit and evidence of your union, and that union is the firm ground-work and certain pledge of your glorification; and so you ought to reckon or reason the case with yourselves, as the word “ligidzeste” there signifies. Now for the stating and explication of this point, I shall, in the doctrinal part, labour to open and confirm these five things,
1. What the mortification or crucifixion of sin imports.
2. Why this work of the Spirit is expressed by crucifying.
3. Why all that are in Christ must be so crucified or mortified unto sin.
4. What is the true evangelical principle of mortification.
5. How the mortification of sin evinces our interest in Christ.
And then apply the whole.
First, What the mortification or crucifixion of sin imports.
And, for clearness sake, I shall speak to it both negatively and positively, showing you what is not intended, and what is principally aimed at by the Spirit of God in this expression.
First, “The crucifying of the flesh does not imply the total abolition of sin in believers, or the destruction of its very being and existence in them for the present; sanctified souls so put off their corruptions with their dead bodies at death:” This will be the effect of our future glorification, not of our present sanctification. Sin does exist in the most mortified believer in the world, Rom. 7:17. it still acteth and lusteth in the regenerate soul, Gal. 5:17. yea, notwithstanding its crucifixion in believers, it still may, in respect of single acts, surprise and captivate them, Psal. 65:3. Rom. 7:23. This, therefore, is not the intention of the Spirit of God in this expression.
Secondly, Nor does the crucifixion of sin consist in the suppression of the external acts of sin only: for sin may reign over the souls of men, whilst it does not break forth into their lives in gross and open actions, 2 Pet. 3:20. Mat. 12:43. Morality in the Heathens (as Tertullian well observes) did absconders, sed non abscindere vitia, hide them, when it could not kill them: Many a mull shows a white, and fair hand, who yet has a very foul and black heart.
Thirdly, The crucifixion of the flesh does not consist in the cessation of the external acts of sin; for, in that respect, the lusts of men may die of their own accord, even a kind of natural death. The members of the body are the weapons of unrighteousness, as the apostle calls them; age or sickness may so blunt or break those weapons, that the soul cannot use them to such sinful purposes and services as it was wont to do in the vigorous and healthful seasons of life; not that there is less sin in the heart, but because there are less strength and activity in the body. Just as it is with an old soldier, who has as much skill, policy, and delight as ever in military actions; but age and hard services have so enfeebled him, that he can no longer follow the camp.
Fourthly, The crucifixion of sin does not consist in the severe castigation of the body, and penancing it by stripes, fasting, and tiresome pilgrimages. This may pass for mortification among Papists, but never was any lust of the flesh destroyed by this rigour. Christians, indeed, are bound not to indulge and pamper the body, which is the instrument of sin; nor yet must we think that the spiritual corruptions of the soul feel those stripes which are inflicted upon the body: See Col. 2: 23. it is not the vanity of superstition, but the power of true religion, which crucifies and destroys corruption; it is faith in Christ’s blood, not the spilling of our own blood, which gives sin the mortal wound.
Secondly, But if you enquire, what then is implied in the mortification or crucifixion of sin, and wherein it does consist? I answer,
First, It necessarily implies the soul’s implantation into Christ, kind union with him: without which it is impossible that any one corruption should be mortified: They that are [Christ’s] have crucified the flesh: The attempts and endeavours of all others are vain and ineffectual: “When we were in the flesh, (saith the apostle) the motions of sin which were by the law did work; in our members, to bring forth fruit unto death,” Rom. 7:5. sin was then in its full dominion, no abstinence, rigour, or outward severity; no purposes, promises, or solemn vows could mortify or destroy it; there must be an implantation into Christ before there can be any effectual crucifixion of sin: What believer almost has not in the days of his first convictions, tried all external methods and means of mortifying sin, and found all in experience to be to as little purpose as the binding of Samson with green withs or cords? But when he has once come to act faith upon the death of Christ, then the design of mortification has prospered and succeeded to good purpose.
Secondly, Mortification of sin implies the agency of the Spirit of God in that work, without whose assistances and aids, all our endeavours must needs be fruitless: Of this work we may say as it vas said in another case, Zech. 4:6. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” When the Apostle therefore would shew by what hand this work of mortification is performed, he thus expresseth it, Rom. 8:50: S. “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live:” The duty is ours, but the power whereby we perform it is God’s: The Spirit is the only successful combatant against the lusts that war in our members, Gal 5:17. It is true, this excludes not, but implies our endeavours; for it is we through the Spirit who mortify the deeds of the body; but yet all our endeavours without the Spirit’s aid and influence avail nothing.
Thirdly, The crucifixion of sin necessarily implies the subversion of its dominion in the soul: A mortified sin cannot be a reigning sin, Rom. 6:12, 13, 14. Two things constitute the dominion of sin, viz. the fulness of its power, and the soul’s subjection to it. As to the fulness of its power, that rises from the suitableness it has, and pleasure it gives to the corrupt heart of man: It seems to be as necessary as the right hand, as useful and pleasant as the right-eye, Mat. 5:29. but the mortified heart is dead to all pleasures and profits of sin; it has no delight or pleasure in it; it becomes its burden and daily complaint. Mortification presupposes the illumination of the mind and conviction of the conscience; by reason whereof sin cannot deceive and blind the mind, or bewitch and ensnare the will and affections as it was wont to do, and consequently its dominion over the soul is destroyed and lost.
Fourthly, The crucifying of the flesh implies a gradual weakening of the power of sin in the soul. The death of the cross was a slow and lingering death, and the crucified person grew weaker and weaker every hour; so it is in the mortification of sin: The soul is still “cleansing itself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” 2 Cor. 7:1. And as the body of sin is weakened more and more; so the inward man, or the new creature, is “renewed day by day,” 2 Cor. 4:16. For sanctification is a progressive work of the Spirit: And as holiness increases and roots itself deeper and deeper in the soul; so the power and interest of sin proportionately abates and sinks lower and lower, until at length it be swallowed up in victory.
Fifthly, The crucifying of the flesh notes to us the believers’ designed application of all spiritual means and sanctified instruments for the destruction of it: There is nothing in this world which a gracious heart more vehemently desires and longs for than the death of sin and perfect deliverance from it, Rom. 7:24. the sincerity of which desires does accordingly manifest itself in the daily application of all God’s remedies: such are daily watching against the occasions of sin, Job 31: 1. “I have made a covenant with mine eyes;” more than ordinary vigilance over their special or proper sin, Psal. 18:23. “I kept myself from mine iniquity:” Earnest cries to heaven for preventing grace. Psal. 19:13. “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me:” Deep humblings of soul for sins past, which is an excellent preventive unto future sins, 2 Cor. 2:11. “in that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness wrought it?” Care to give no furtherance or advantage to the design of sin by making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof, as others do, Rom. 13: I3, 14. Willingness to bear due reproofs for sin, Psal. 141:5. “Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness:” These, and such like means of mortification, regenerate souls are daily using and applying, in order to the death of sin. And so much of the first particular, what the mortification of sin, or crucifying of the flesh implies.
Secondly, In the next place we shall examine the reasons why this work of the Spirit is expressed under that trope, or figurative expression of crucifying the flesh. Now the ground and reason of the use of this expression, is the resemblance which the mortification of sin bears unto the death of the cross: And this appears in five particulars.
First, The death of the cross was a pained death, and the mortification of sin is a very painful work, Mat. 25:29. it is as the cutting off our right and plucking out our right eyes; it will cost many thousand tears and groans, prayers and strong cries to heaven, before one sin will be mortified. Upon the account of the difficulty of this work, and mainly upon this account, the scripture saith, “narrow is the way, and strait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,” Mat. 7:14. and that the righteous themselves are scarcely saved.
Secondly, The death of the cross was universally painful; every member, every sense, every sinew, every nerve, was the seat and subject of tormenting pain. So it is in the mortification of sin; it is not this or that particular member or act, but the whole body of sin that is to be destroyed, Rom. 6:6. and accordingly the conflict is in every faculty of the soul; for the Spirit of God, by whose hand sin is mortified, does not combat faith this or that particular lust only, but with sin, as sin; and for that reason with every sin, in every faculty of the soul. So that there are conflicts and anguish in every part.
Third, The death of the cross was a slow, and lingering death; denying unto them that suffered it the favour of a quick dispatch; just so it is in the death of sin: though the Spirit of God be mortifying it day by day, yet this is a truth sealed by the sad experience of all believers in the world, that sin is long a dying: And if we ask a reason of this dispensation of God, among others, this seems to be one; corruptions in believers, like the Canaanites in the land of Israel, are left to prove and to exercise the people of God, to keep us watching and praying, mourning and believing; yea, wondering and admiring at the riches of pardoning and preserving mercy all our days.
Fourthly, The death of the cross was a very opprobrious, or shameful death: they that died upon the cross were loaded with ignominy; the crimes for which they died were exposed to the public view; after this manner dieth sin, a very shameful and ignominious death. Every true believer draws up a charge against it in every prayer, aggravates and condemns it in every, confession, bewails the evil of it with multitudes of tears and groans; making sin as vile and odious as he can find words to express it, though not so vile as it is in its own nature. “O my God, (saith Ezra) I am ashamed, and even blush to look up unto thee,” Ezra 9:6. So Daniel in his confession, Dan. 9:7. “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day.” Nor can it grieve any believer in the world, to accuse, condemn, and shame himself for sin, whilst he remembers and considers, that all that shame and confusion of face which he takes to himself goes to the vindication, glory and honour of his God. As David was content to be more vile still for God, so it pleaseth the heart of a Christian to magnify and advance the name and glory of God, by exposing his own shame, in humble and broken hearted confessions of sin.
Fifthly, In a word, the death of the cross was not a natural, but a violent death: Such also is the death of sin: sin dies not of its own accord, as nature dieth in old men, in whom the balsamum radicale, or radical moisture is consumed: for if the Spirit of God did not kill it, it would live to eternity in the souls of men; it is not the everlasting burnings, and all the wrath of God which lies upon the damned for ever, that can destroy sin. Sin, like a salamander, can live to eternity in the fire of God’s wrath; so that either it must die a violent death by the hand of the Spirit, or it never dieth at all. And thus you see, why the mortification of sin is tropically expressed by the crucifying of the flesh.
Thirdly, Why all that are in Christ must be so crucified, or mortified unto sin: And the necessity of this will appear divers ways.
First, From the inconsistency and contrariety that there is betwixt Christ and unmortified lust, Gal. 5:17. “These are contrary the one to the other.” There is a threefold inconsistency betwixt Christ and such corruptions; they are not only contrary to the holiness of Christ, 1 John 3:6. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth has not seen him, neither known him”; i.e. whosoever is thus ingulphed and plunged into the lust of the flesh, can have no communion with the pure and holy Christ; but there is also an inconsistency betwixt such sin and the honour of Christ, 2 Tim. 2:19. “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.” As Alexander said to a soldier of his name, recordare nominis Alexandri, remember thy name is Alexander, and do nothing unworthy of that name. And unmortified lusts are also contrary to the dominion and government of Christ, Luke 9:23. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me:” These are the self denying terms upon which all men are admitted into Christ’s service: And without mortification and self-denial, he allows no man to call him Lord and aster.
Secondly, The necessity of mortification appears from the necessity of conformity betwixt Christ, the Head, and all the members of his mystical body; for how incongruous and uncomely would it be to see a holy, heavenly Christ, leading a company of unclean, carnal, and sensual members? Mat. 11: 29. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly,” q. d. it would be monstrous to the world, to behold a company of lions and wolves following a meek and harmless lamb: Men of raging and unmortified lusts, professing and owning me for their head of government. And again, 1 John 2:6. “He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk, even as he walked,” q. d. either imitate Christ in your practice, or never make pretensions to Christ in your profession. This was what the apostle complained of, Phil. 3:18. for “many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” Men cannot study to put a greater dishonour and reproach upon Christ, than by making his name and profession a cloke and cover to their filthy lusts.
Thirdly, The necessity of crucifying the flesh appears from the method of salvation, as it is stated in the gospel. God every where requires the practice of mortification, under pain of damnation. at. 18:8. “Wherefore if thy hand, or thy foot, offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life, halt or maimed, rather than having two hands, or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire.” The gospel legitimates no hopes of salvation, but such as are accompanied with serious endeavours of mortification. 1 John 3: 3. “Every man that has this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” It was one special end of Christ’s coming into the world, “to save his people from their sins,” Mat. 1:21. nor will he be a saviour unto any who remain under the dominion of their own lusts.
Fourthly, The whole stream and current of the gospel, puts us under the necessity of mortification; gospel precepts have respect unto this, Col. 3:5. “Mortify your members, therefore, which are upon the earth.” 1 Pet. 1:15. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” Gospel- precedents have respect unto this, Heb. 12:1. “Wherefore seeing we, also, are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us,” &c. Gospel-threatenings are written for this end, and do all press mortification in a thundering dialect, Rom. 8:13. “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die”. Rom. 1: 18. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men.” The promises of the gospel are written designedly to promote it, 2 Cor. 7:1. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” But in vain are all these precepts, precedents, threatenings, and promises written in the scriptures, except mortification be the daily study and practice of professors.
Fifthly, Mortification is the very scope and aim of our regeneration, and the infusion of the principles of grace. “If we live in the spirit, let us walk in the spirit,” Gal. 5:25. In vain were the habits of grace planted, if the fruits of holiness and mortification be not produced; yea, mortification is not only the design and aim, but it is a special part, even the one half of our sanctification.
Sixthly, If mortification be not the daily practice and endeavour of believers, then the way to heaven no way answers to Christ’s description of it in the gospel. He tells us, Mat. 7:13, 14. “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Well then, either Christ must be mistaken in the account he gave of the way to glory, or else all unmortified persons are out of the way; for what makes the way of salvation narrow, but the difficulties and severities of mortification?
Seventhly, In a word, he that denies the necessity of mortification, confounds all discriminating marks betwixt saints and sinners; pulls down the pale of distinction, and lets the world into the church, and the church into the world: It is a great design of the gospel to preserve the boundaries betwixt the one and the other, Rom. 2:7, 8. Rom. 8:1, 4, 5, 6, 13. But if men may be Christians without mortification, we may as well go into the taverns, ale- houses, or brothel-houses, among the roaring or sottish crew of sinners, and say, here are those that are redeemed by the blood of Christ; here are his disciples and followers as to go to seek them in the purest churches, or most strictly religious families: by all which the necessity of mortification, unto all that are in Christ, is abundantly evidenced.
Fourthly, In the next place, we are to enquire into the true principle of mortification it is true, there are many ways attempted by men for the mortification of sin, and many rules laid down, to guide men in that great work; some of which are very trifling and impertinent things: such are those prescribed by Popish Votaries. But I shall lay down this as a sure conclusion, that the sanctifying Spirit is the only effectual principle of mortification; and, without him, no resolutions, vows, abstinences, castigations of the body, or any all or external endeavours, can ever avail to the mortification of one sin. The moral Heathens have prescribed many pretty rules and helps for the suppression of vice: Aristides, Seneca, and Cato, were renowned among them upon this account: formal. Christians have also gone far in the reformation of their lives, but could never attain true mortification; formality pares off the excrescences of vice, but never kills the root of it: it usually recovers itself again, and their souls, like a body not well purged, relapses into a worse condition than before, Mat. 12:43, 44. 2 Pet. 2:20.
This work of mortification is peculiar to the Spirit of God, Rom. 8:13. Gal. 5:17. and the Spirit becomes a principle of mortification in believers two ways, namely,
1. By the implantation of contrary habits.
2. By assisting those implanted habits in all the times of need.
First, The Spirit of God implants habits of a contrary nature, which are destructive to sin, and are purgative of corruption, 1 John 5:4. Acts 15:9. Grace is to corruption what water is to fire; betwixt which, there is both abnormal and selective opposition; a contrariety both in nature and operation, Gal 5:17. There is a threefold remarkable advantage given us by grace, for the destruction and mortification of sin. For,
First, Grace gives the mind and heart of man a contrary bent and inclination; by reason whereof spiritual and heavenly things become connatural to the regenerate soul. Rom. 7:22. “For I delight in the law of God after the inner man.” Sanctification is in the soul as a living spring running with a kind of central force heaven- ward, John 4:14.
Secondly, Holy principles destroy the interest that sin once had in the love and delight of the soul; the sanctified soul cannot take pleasure in sin, or find delight in that which grieves God, as it was wont to do; but that which was the object of delight, hereby becomes the object of grief and hatred. Rom. 7:15. What I hate, that I do.
Thirdly, From both these follow a third advantage for the mortification of sin, in as much as sin being contrary to the new nature, and the object of grief and hatred, cannot possibly be committed without reluctancy and very sensible regret of mind; and actions done with regret are neither done frequently nor easily. The case of a regenerate soul under the surprisals and particular victories of temptation, being like that of a captive in war, who marches not with delight, but by constraint among his enemies. So the apostle expresseth himself, Rom. 7: 28. “But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind; and bringing me into captivity unto the law of sin which is in my members.” Thus the Spirit of God promotes the design of mortification, by the implantation of contrary habits.
Secondly, By assisting those gracious habits in all the times of need, which he does many ways; sometimes notably awakening and rousing grace out of the dull and sleepy habit, and drawing forth the activity and power of it into actual and successful resistances of temptations. As Gen. 39:9. “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Holy fear awakens first and raises all the powers of grace in the soul to make a vigorous resistance of temptation: the Spirit also strengthens weak grace in the soul. 2 Cor. 12:9. “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness:” And, by reason of grace thus implanted and thus assisted, he that is born of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not.”
Fifthly, The last query to be satisfied is, how mortification of sin solidly evinceth the soul’s interest in Christ; and this it does divers ways, affording the mortified soul many sound evidences thereof. As,
Evidence 1. Whatsoever evidences the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God in us, must needs be evidential of a saving interest in Christ, as has been fully proved before; but the mortification of sin does plainly evidence the indwelling of the Spirit of God; for, as we proved but now, it can proceed from no other principle. There is as strong and inseparable a connection betwixt mortification and the Spirit, as betwixt the effect and its proper cause; and the self- same connection betwixt the inbeing of the Spirit and union with Christ: So that to reason from mortification to the inhabitation of the Spirit, and from the inhabitation of the Spirit to our union with Christ, is a strong scriptural way of reasoning.
Evidence 2. That which proves a soul to be under the covenant of grace, evidently proves its interest in Christ; for Christ is the head of that covenant, and none but sound believers are under the blessings and promises of it: but mortification of sin is a sound evidence of the soul’s being under the covenant of grace, as is plain from those words of the apostle, Rom. 6:12, 13, 14. “Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lust thereof; neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God: for sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, lint under grace.” Where the apostle presseth believers unto mortification by this encouragement, that it will be a good evidence unto them of a new covenant interest; for all legal duties and endeavours can never mortify sin: it is the Spirit in the new covenant, which produces this. Whoever, therefore, has corruptions mortified, has his interest in the covenant, and consequently in Christ, so far cleared unto him.
Evidence 3. That which is the fruit and evidence of saving faith, must needs be a good evidence of our interest in Christ; but mortification of sin is the fruit and evidence of saving faith. Acts 15:9. “Purifying their hearts by faith.” 1 John 5:4. “This is the victory whereby we overcome the world, even our faith.” Faith overcomes both the allurements of the world on the one hand, and the terrors of the world on the other hand, by mortifying the heart and affections to all earthly things: a mortified heart is not easily taken with the ensnaring pleasures of the world, or much moved with the disgraces, losses, and sufferings it meets with from the world; and so the strength and force of its temptations are broken, and the mortified soul becomes victorious over it; and all this by the instrumentality of faith.
Evidence 4. In a word, there is an intimate and indissoluble connection betwixt the mortification of sin, and the life of grace. Rom. 6:11. “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ:” and the life of Christ must needs involve a saving interest in Christ. By all which is fully proved what was asserted in the observation from this text. The application follows in the next sermon.