Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Mortifying Faith

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mortifying Faith

Mortifying Faith
  When a person repents of sin and dead works, believes in the sacrifice of Christ to satisfy God’s wrath upon all sin, confesses Jesus to be Lord, calls upon the Lord Jesus to save his soul, and receives Jesus as Lord of his life in the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit of Christ, everything that has happened to Jesus has already happened to the believer POSITIONALLY (Colossians 2:10-15).  The word “complete” in Colossians 2:10 is a perfect, passive, participle.  However, these things will not be fully realized practically until the believer has experience the “redemption of the body” (glorification; Romans 8:23). 

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22-23). 

          The words “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” in Romans 8:23 are words of great faith anticipation.  A vision of faith sees a future beyond the so called eternal sleep of death.  This faith vision looks beyond the temporal existence into the eternal to see the promised sharing of God’s eternality and the blessings of eternal fellowship with Him.  Paul speaks extensively of this promised new existence in I Corinthians chapter fifteen summarizing the teaching on the redemption of the body in verses fifty-one through fifty-eight. 

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep {die}, but we shall all be changed {glorified}, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed {glorified}. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:51-58).

Life in this world, even as supernaturally enabled Christians, is a constant battle against temptations from without (opportunities to sin) and temptations from within (desires to sin).  The “redemption of our body” is the final act of God in our New Birth whereby we fully receive our new spiritual bodies and are placed into the New Creation as fully functional children of God unhindered by the baggage of a fallen nature.  This is a faith issue that can only be understood and appreciated by those who are fully engaged in the constant spiritual warfare against the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21).  This is a spiritual war by faith for “the faith.” 

The practical reality of this truth is that even though every believer is already “complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:1), each person still possesses a sin nature that has a wicked propensity for sin.  If our faith is based upon a pure biblical epistemology, we will understand that spiritual warfare is mostly an inward battle with the corrupted desires of our own carnal natures. 

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid {perfect, passive} with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify {imperative} therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off {imperative} all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God {refers vocationally to the priesthood of all believers}, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:1-17).

          A living faith is a faith that mortifies the sinful desires of the “old man” (the Sin Nature or the “flesh”).  Faith is more about what we do with what we believe than it is about what we believe.  What we believe is critical to faith, but until those beliefs are fleshed out, they are nothing more than assent to intellectual facts.  There is no evident spiritual life in the kind of profession of faith that does not live what it professes to believe.

          Just as a living faith evidences itself in outward expressions of “good works,” a dead faith (unbelief) manifests itself in outward expressions of bad “works.”  These are what God called sins or the “works of the flesh.”  Paul deals with both the “fruit of the Spirit” (manifesting a living faith) and the “works of the flesh” (manifesting a dead faith) in Galatians 5:19-26.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:19-26).

Every human being has a carnal beast living within.  We all have a shocking propensity for wickedness and evil when left unrestrained by the truth of God’s Word and the restraining of the Holy Spirit as He uses Bible Truths to act upon the human conscience.  This restraining of evil in a person’s life is what defines that person becoming civilized.  The evil man is capable of acts beyond the imagination of civilized people.  Nonetheless, our history books and newspaper services provide ample testimony to the wickedness of which men and women are capable without Divine restraints upon their souls.  A person with a living faith understands this and sees the need for supernatural intervention and enabling to overcome this carnal beast living within.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

The word “mortify” in Colossians 3:5 is from the Greek word nekroo (nek-ro’-o).  It means to slay or to put to death.  It can also mean to deprive of power or to destroy the strength thereof.  The latter meaning is the application in this text.  The idea is to insure there is no life remaining in the thing you “mortify.” 

Colossians 3:1-2 is an admonition of belief.  “If ye” - the question is, if you believe the following, then here is what will take place in your life.  The point is this, if you have been spiritually resurrected out from among the spiritually dead to a state of spiritual life, then you will constantly be seeking spiritual things.  This is quite a statement of expectation.  This is God’s expectation of all His “born again” children.  When God says we are to “seek those things which are above,” the statement is further qualified by the words, “Where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”  The idea is more than seeking spiritual things above the worldly things.  The meaning is to seek the exact same things that Christ is seeking.

Christ is sitting at the “right hand of the Father;” the place of glorification, which signifies His work is “finished.”  He is seated on the Mercy Seat (the place of propitiation), where we are seated with Christ.  For the believer, this is a reminder that our Head is in Heaven (Christ).  The body is on earth (the Church).  The work of the “Head” is finished (the propitiation of God and the justification of man).  The work of the body is the “ministry of reconciliation.”  The “ministry of reconciliation” is about preaching the Gospel of an already accomplished reality through the “finished” Cross work of Jesus Christ.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18-19).

“Then Jesus said to them again, Peace unto you, as My Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).

The purpose of mortifying the sinful desires of the “flesh” is to bring the body under subjection to its “head” (Colossians 3:2).  “Set your affection,” means to bring one’s mind into union with the mind of Christ.  The life of Christ puts Christ first by bringing glorification and praise to Christ through actions.  Inconsistency brings reproach upon the Name of Christ.  Evidently, this has been a failure in the lives of Christians since the time of the beginning of the Church Age.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Philippians 2:19-21).

A person of faith is to set his desires on things above, “not on the things on earth.”  The things that occupy the earth are not sinful in themselves; alcohol, tobacco, money, etc.  There is nothing wrong with alcohol when it is used to clean a wound or kill germs.  I am sure that even the tobacco plant has some useful purpose. 

The Word does not say that “money is the root of all evil.”  “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  Therefore, the sin problem is when we become preoccupied with these “things on earth.”  The things of this world are often used to entice us away from serving God.  The solution is not just correcting our attitude towards the “things,” but our attitude towards God.  Our relationship God must be keep first.

The reminder (Colossians 3:3), “Ye are dead”

As far as a believer’s spirituality is concerned, the reminder “Ye are dead” means the believer was separated from all the lusts and enticements of this evil world when he was “born again.”  Therefore, he should be walking in the reality of the power of a resurrected spiritual life.  In fact, that reality should be so vivid that the world should not be able to see his old life styles, but only the life of Christ.  Those old life styles and affections should be “hidden with Christ.”  As Christ is hidden from the view of the lost world in the Godhead, so should the believer’s affections for the things of this world be hidden from them “with Christ.”  A life of sin, in any degree, is an abomination to God and shouting proclamation to unbelief.  The problem is that the one person that cannot hear the shouting is the very person living in sin. 

The practice of “Christ our life” (Colossians 3:5)

When Christ is our life, it will be our desire to “mortify” the sin nature.  To “mortify” the sin nature means to deprive it of power or to destroy the strength thereof.  This is a reality of a living faith.  Anything less is a perversion of “the faith.”

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:2-4).

We should never confuse our practical responsibilities in this temporal world with our concrete and eternal position in Christ.  Our position never changes and is unaffected by our response to God’s expectation.  However, that does not give us the right to take license with God’s grace.  It is a perversion of “the faith” to say that Christian “liberty” from the Law (Mosaic Covenant) gives the Christian freedom to live any way he wants.  This perversion of grace is another ancient heresy.

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6  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. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 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. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:1-15).

“Mortify” is not talking about spiritual suicide.  It is referring to putting the “carnal mind” effectively to death.  To mortify means to deprive of power or to destroy the strength.  Since our mind and thoughts control our bodies, the mind of which Christ is in control will control the body He possesses.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Corinthians 10:3-6).

In Colossians 3:5, “members” refers to the parts of the body as they are employed in sin.  These “members” employ themselves in certain described sinful practices.

1. “Fornication” is illicit sexual activity outside of the confines of a husband\wife relationship.
2. “Uncleanness” is any moral impurity as an outcome of gratifying selfish desires.
3. “Inordinate affection” is described in Romans 1:26-28 and refers to homosexuality.
4. “Covetousness” carries climactic force in the Greek and could read “especially covetousness.”  It is a category of sin that stands by itself called IDOLATRY.  Covetousness is the greedy desire to have more than a person needs.  It is the epitome of ungratefulness.  It is the religion of the discontent.  It is being unsatisfied with God’s provisions.

According to Colossians 3:4, our ultimate incentive to “mortify” the desires of our flesh should be the second coming of Christ.  This is the Bride (the Church) awaiting the Bridegroom coming to take the Bride home to glory.  This is a reality of a real belief in the imminent return of Christ.  Without this practical reality in our lives, we cannot claim to believe this great Scriptural truth.

          The Lordship of Jesus is not a visible sovereignty.  Unless our life actions (culturally and distinctively in the areas of personal holiness) make His Lordship visible, His Lordship will remain invisible.  Jesus personally is hidden from the lost world because believers refuse to reflect the “life of Christ.”  When we sin, we are hiding Christ from the world He died to redeem.  It is a wonderful truth to know the all-sufficiency of Jesus, but it is a sad fact that we, all too often, do not manifest the all-supremacy of Jesus.  A living faith lives to this end.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine {imperative mood} before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:14-19).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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