For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
I. THE ACT — "Mortify."
1. Sin is active in the soul of an unregenerate man. Justification supposeth guilt, sanctification filth, mortification life, preceding those acts.
2. Nothing but the death of sin must content a renewed soul. No indulgence to be shown to it; not the loss of a member, but the loss of its life. As nothing but the death of Christ mould satisfy the justice of God, so nothing but the death of sin must satisfy the justice of the soul.
3. "Do mortify." The time present. As sin must have no pardon, so it must have no reprieve. Dangerous enemies must be handled with a quick severity.
4. "Do mortify." It notes a continued act. It must be a quick and an uninterrupted severity,
II. THE OBJECT — "The deeds of the body."
1. Mortification must be universal; not one deed, but deeds, little and great. Though the main battle be routed, yet the wings of an army may get the victory.
2. The body signifies corrupt nature, deeds are the products of it; all the sparks issue from the furnace within.
3. The greatest object of our revenge is within us. Our enemy has got possession of our souls, which makes the work more difficult. An enemy may better be kept out than cast out when he has got possession.
III. THE AGENTS — "ye," "the Spirit."
1. Man must be an agent in this work. We have brought this rebel into our souls, and God would have us make as it were some recompence by endeavouring to cast it out.
2. Through the Spirit.
(1) Mortification is not the work of nature; it is a spiritual work. We must engage in the duel, but it is the strength of the Spirit only can render us victorious. The duty is ours, but the success is from God. We can sin of ourselves, but not overcome sin by ourselves.
(2) The difficulty of this work is manifested by the necessity of the Spirit's efficacy. Not all the powers on earth, nor the strength of ordinances, can do it.
IV. THE PROMISE — "Ye shall live."
1. Heaven is a place for conquerors only (Revelation 3:21). He that will be sin's friend, cannot be God's favourite. There must be a combat before a victory, and a victory before a triumph.
2. The more perfect our mortification, the clearer our assurance of glory. The more sin dies, the more the soul lives.
3. Mortification is a sure sign of saving grace. It is a sign of the Spirit's indwelling and powerful acting, a sign of an approach to heaven.
(S. Charnock, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.