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How Much of Our Life, Strength, and Comfort Depends on Our “Dying to the Old Man”?

This is a very good question since we all want to be strong, healthy, and enjoy many good days of peace and comfort.


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 Judah saw his wound,@  but God says, "they shall not be healed" (Hos5:13). Ephraim and Judah looked for cures in different ways. Their own ways were not recognized by God and He would not heal them because they (v.15) would not "acknowledge their offense." Men may seek all the outward satisfaction they want, and divert and cover over their illness for a time, but they are only growing worse and worse as their real life ebbs away. Their sore may scab over and they think they are healed, only to have the cancer come out at another spot. Unless the proper application is applied, their own cure will not be effective.


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.





3 replies on “How Much of Our Life, Strength, and Comfort Depends on Our “Dying to the Old Man”?”

Aaaah, yes…as Jerry Benjamin says (here I go again! 😉 ):
"The traces of many hearts flow through my own."
Defragging…what a great analogy!
Always a blessing.  Thanks again.

Wow, Steve.  How you consistently produce so many thought-provoking, rich articles astounds me.   You know, I read this a few weeks ago from my iPad, and tried to comment, but it didn't allow it.  The cursor failed to appear in the comment box even though the virtual keyboard was willing & waiting.
Anyway, in addition to your great work, I will respond in my typical manner: by providing a likewise great quote from another favorite theologian of mine (Maj. Ian Thomas).  I think it falls in-line with yours perfectly.  Hope you don't mind.
“Don’t imagine yourself to be righteous.
“Christianity is not conformity to certain external patterns of ethical behavior that are imposed upon you from without. Christianity is the re-introduction by the Holy Spirit of a Holy God from within. And that begins in the Spirit. And that is why as I mentioned [previous sermon]…a thing can somehow feel wrong to you and yet you can’t formulate why. The Holy Spirit is convicting your inner man before it has become, as it were, articulate in terms of the mind, and the emotion and the will. That’s why you should always obey your conscience as quickened by the Holy Spirit. For the soul of man, un-enlightened by the Holy Spirit through the human spirit, will rationalize until even wrong may be right and right wrong…
“How the devil would deceive us with his charm, with his pious language, how he would come and persuade us; how he would come and challenge our noblest and highest aspirations and say, “You’re a Christian now, you’ve got to deal with this flesh. You’ve got to hang Haman. Come on now, get down to it. Role up your sleeves and deal with the lusts of the flesh, and when you have dealt with the lusts of the flesh, then you will walk in the Spirit!” Isn’t that a clever lie? The Word of God in Galatians 5 says walk in the Spirit, living moment by moment obedience to Mordecai . He will hang Haman! So long as you are deceived by the devil into thinking it is your business to hang Haman, Mordecai will be helpless.
“God’s Word says ‘Walk in the Spirit, do what you are told, obey truth, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.’
“The devil says ‘Don’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh and then you will walk in the Spirit.’
“That’s the cleverest device of the devil that I know. If he can’t persuade you to reject truth, he will invert truth and turn truth into a lie. We must be aware of his subtle devises. For if he can keep you preoccupied with trying to crucify yourself, you will keep yourself alive trying to crucify yourself, and there’s nothing quite so frustrating as that.”
From the sermon called "Esther".


Your typical way of responding is the thing that makes you well liked; you’re kind and forthright, and those are good qualities in God’s children; don’t change.

Thank you for those great compliments, but this particular article was a gleaning of fruit from another saint’s orchard. I do a lot of reading of very old material, from the Reformation to the early Church, and as a traveler of the narrow way, these obedient saints have left many un-picked clusters, that are now giving life to saints 600-2000 years hence.

I really can’t take credit for any of my writing. If we would be honest with ourselves we would have to conclude that we have never even had an original thought. We come into this life empty. Our database has been formatted, but no data is entered. I guess we could argue that we gather some data while still in the womb, but I speak in general terms. Every thought we think, and every word we utter, has come from some other person or source, we only repeat data we have gathered. We are a product of this world in totality, and speak and do the things of the world; it is impossible to do otherwise. This is really the amazing thing about Jesus being God,s Son; He did and spoke the things of His Father. Jesus’ database was not corrupted as our are. Jesus said, “I do the things I hear my Father saying, and you do the things of your father.”

The idea of mortification of indwelling sin is to be able to have reveled to us, His twice born children, the things of the Father; to be able to understand the riddle, that has been withheld from those outside. We have to be able to glean from God’s garden, and re-enter the Garden by way of Divine revelation. It is He that will give to any that ask; it is our life’s food. As good data is added to the bad, the bad still dominates. It isn’t like re-formatting our database, which would get rid of the bad stuff; it is more like defragging. We catalog and re-file information, we discern its origin, and delete it, until we purge out the old leaven, so-to-speak. When we discover truth, we “buy the truth, and sell it not, and as a bonus get wisdom and understanding.”

Well. I could go on for hours, but I know you already know these things; they are mostly for the benefit of those on the sidelines.

Peace and health

Steve Blackwell

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