On the Marks Which Distinguish a Real Christian
Galatians 5:24
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Thus those that are Christ's are occasionally characterized as born of the Spirit; walking in the Spirit; the children of God; the elect of God; the doers of the law; the heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Those that are not Christ's are described as walking in the flesh; fulfilling the lusts of the flesh; the children of this world; the unfruitful hearers of the law; the servants of Satan; the heirs of damnation. Let me now endeavour to assist you in judging whether you are living to Christ, or to the flesh, by setting before you some of the scriptural tests, which distinguish from a corrupt and unregenerate world those who belong to the Lord Jesus.

I. To crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, is, in the first place, to make it the business of life to overcome, through the ever present grace of God, the evil dispositions and desires of human nature; and to abstain from the evil actions to which those dispositions and desires would lead. And on what principle are you thus to crucify the flesh? You are to crucify it for the sake of Jesus Christ. You are to abhor and renounce sin because it was the occasion of His sufferings. From love and gratitude to your Redeemer for the unspeakable kindness which He has shown towards yourself, you are to forsake whatever is displeasing in His sight.

II. Have you therefore resolved, through the grace of God, to renounce the indulgence of sinful inclinations and practices? Have you thus taken the first step towards living unto Christ? What then is the second? "Cease to do evil" saith the prophet. What is his next injunction? "Learn to do well."

III. The characteristics which have hitherto been proposed as tests, by which you may be assisted in forming a judgment whether at present you belong to Christ, have principally been deduced from your proceedings as to the government of unhallowed inclinations and desires, and from your tempers and conduct as exercised towards man. Not that the frame of your heart towards God has been thrown into the background. Love to God through Christ has been assumed as the basis of self-government, and of love to man. From that root must spring every ramification of duty. The disposition, however, of your soul as to subjects more immediately and closely spiritual than those which have been specified is the least dubitable of all the tokens to which you can resort for insight into your actual state. Does the current of your thoughts, when, unchecked by impediments, it selects a course for itself, flow towards God and your Redeemer?

IV. Direct your attention to the objects, which, when the affection of the Apostle Paul for his converts expatiated in calling down blessings upon them, uniformly presented themselves to his thoughts (Ephesians 1:16-18; Ephesians 3:16-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-11).

1. If you are not Christ's, what are your hopes? Do you flatter yourself that the Scriptures may prove not to be the word of inspiration? Or do you assume the promises of God as true, and regard His threatenings as empty terrors? Or do you think that Christ, when He comes, will make you an exception to the general rule, and distinguish you by unexampled mercy in spite of your disobedience? Behold the thin and hollow ice on which you propose to cross the gulf of everlasting destruction!

2. If you are already a true Christian; foster the good seed sown in your heart, that the Divine planter may preserve it from being overwhelmed by surrounding tares, and may nourish it unto timely and plentiful maturity. Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Thomas Gisborne.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

WEB: Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.

Of the Nature, Principle, and Necessity of Mortification
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