Romans 8:13

The apostle in these verses makes a high claim for believers - the claim of being children of God. In this eighth chapter he unfolds, as in a panoramic view, the whole plan of salvation. He begins with the idea that those who are in Christ Jesus are delivered from condemnation. But salvation is something more than that. It means sonship also. And step by step, verse by verse, the apostle advances, at each step unfolding some fresh view of the Christian's privileges, till at last, as he surveys the whole field of sin and sorrow, of joy and suffering, of trials and temptations, of time and eternity, he grows stronger in the confidence of his sonship, and exclaims, "For! am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


1. God is their Father. They can say that in a special and spiritual sense. In one sense all human beings are the offspring of God. We are all the creatures of his hand, and are dependent continually upon his bountiful care. But sin has come in and separated us from him. It has made us prone to disobey rather than to fulfil our Father's commands. Jesus came into this world that he might bring us back again into the relationship of God's spiritual children. He became a child of humanity that we might become children of God. He became "sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." All who believe on him are born again. They are by creation God's children; now they are his by a spiritual birth. Now they receive "the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father" (ver. 15). Oh, the greatness of our heavenly Father's love! He has not cast us off. He has sent his own Son to bring us back, to restore his image in our hearts, and by-and-by to have us sit down with him in his everlasting kingdom.

2. Jesus Christ is their elder Brother. "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (ver. 17). The inheritance which Christ has we have, if by receiving him we become children of God. It is almost too great a privilege to conceive, but it is plainly revealed to us by God. If we are Christ's, all things are ours; for we are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Christ's own prayer was, "Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am." And then there is a family likeness between the children of God by adoption and their elder Brother. If children of some humble rank were adopted into a noble or royal family, there would be a great dissimilarity between them and the children of that family. There would not be community of feeling. It seems a wonderful thing that we, poor, weak, sinful creatures, should be adopted into the family of God, and made the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. How can there be any likeness between us and him? But God has provided for this. Those are remarkable words, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the Firstborn among many brethren" (ver. 29). Thus God has provided that as we are to be the brethren of Christ, we shall be like him. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is." This likeness to Christ is a gradual growth. It is the development of the Christian character. It is not in the infant lying in the cradle that much likeness to its parent can be detected. But as the body matures, as the features become more marked, as the individuality of character begins to show itself, then we see the likeness, and we say, He is his father's son, She is her mother's daughter. Those beautiful statues of the Louvre or of Florence, which are the admiration of the world, did not spring by magic from the sculptor's hands. He had his ideal. He had his plan. With that ideal before him, he took the rough material, and on it he gradually worked out his plans. He first modelled his figure in clay, and then took the rough, shapeless mass of marble, in which no one could see any traces of the future statue's loveliness or symmetry of form. But the sculptor's love for his work, the skill of his hand, the patience and perseverance of his mind, the hammer and chisel which he wielded, slowly but surely accomplished his purpose, until at last the statue stood forth in all its beauty. So God has his ideal for the Christian - likeness to Christ, the image of his Son. He has his plan, the plan of redemption, of sanctification. With that ideal before him he takes our human nature, and, by the slow and sometimes painful discipline of Christian experience, he develops the Christian character, until at last the believer is found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.

3. The Spirit of God is their Helper. There are three ways mentioned by the apostle in which the Spirit helps us.

(1) He shows us the path of duty. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (ver. 14). The Spirit uses the Word of God, and applies it to our conscience and our heart.

(2) He gives us assurance of our sonship. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (ver. 16). How does he give us that assurance? By producing in us the fruit of the Spirit. "Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments" (1 John 2:3). If our delight is in the Law of the Lord, if we are striving, however imperfectly, to walk in his ways, to follow in the footsteps of Christ, then this is the Spirit's testimony to us that we are the children of God.

(3) The Spirit also makes intercession for us in prayer. We are more accustomed to think of Jesus as interceding for us. But the Spirit's work of intercession is here described in very forcible words. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what to pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, for he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (vers. 26, 27). Christ intercedes for us in heaven; the Holy Spirit intercedes in us on earth. We know not what we should pray for aright. But the Holy Spirit reveals to us our need. He helps our infirmities. He creates within us high and holy aspirations; and even when we cannot rightly express our wants, be that searcheth the hearts knows what our desires are; for the Spirit expresses them better than we can. Let us avail ourselves more of this threefold help of the Spirit of God, that we may be guided in the path of duty, that we may receive a stronger and clearer assurance of our relationship as children of God, and that we may be assisted in the prayers we offer at the throne of heavenly grace.

4. Heaven is their home. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (ver. 18). While enjoying the fellowship of our earthly homes, let us think of the better home on high, the only home that shall never be broken up.

II. THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD. They are summed up in the apostle's brief words, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (ver. 12). "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (ver. 13). We are to remember that we are debtors. We are to reflect how much we owe. We are to realize God's claims upon us. We are to think of the claims of that heavenly Father who has condescended to adopt us as his children, and who is constantly caring for us. We are to think of the claims of that loving Saviour who gave himself for us. We are to think of the claims of that Spirit who has quickened us from the dead, who has been enlightening our minds, and who is renewing us after the image of God.

"All that I am, e'en here on earth,
All that I hope to be
When Jesus comes, and glory dawns,
I owe it, Lord, to thee." C.H.I.

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.

1. To live "after the flesh" is to obey the orders of our corrupt nature; to gratify its sinful desires without regard to or in contradiction of the will of God. And this will appear if we consider —(1) The actions of a carnal man (Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:12; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:10).(2) His words (Matthew 12:34; Ephesians 5:4; James 3:6).(3) His thoughts (Proverbs 23:7; Matthew 15:18; Psalm 10:4; Philippians 3:19; 1 John 2:15).

2. Now, mark the consequence of living after the flesh; "ye shall die I" (ver. 6; 1 Timothy 5:6; Ephesians 2:1; Romans 6:2). What else could be reasonably expected? There are but two eternal states, and every man is training up for one of these. The carnal man is unfit for heaven; for all the joys and employments of the blessed are spiritual.


1. To mortify sin is to put it to death, as the magistrates put a felon to death by due course of justice; he is suspected, apprehended, tried, and executed. Crucifixion is the manner of killing it which God has appointed (Galatians 5:24). This is —

(1)A violent and painful death.

(2)A scandalous death.

(3)A slow and lingering death.

2. By what means may we effectually mortify sin? "Through the Spirit." We must first have the Spirit, that we may experience His sanctifying power. The Spirit helps us to mortify sin —(1) By enabling us to discover it, and by showing us its abominable nature; filling our souls with a sincere dislike to it, and a holy determination to destroy it.(2) By giving us faith, and leading us to Christ for pardon, righteousness, and strength.

3. This promised help of the Spirit does not exclude the use of means on our part. The Spirit so works in us, as also to work by us. The duty is ours; the grace is His.

4. Thus doing, we "shall live." There is no condemnation to persons of this character. This is an evidence that they have "passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). They live indeed, for Christ liveth in them. They live to God; and in this, their gradual sanctification, consists their meetness for heaven, where sin shall be all done away. But, oh sinner, what will be the end of thy present pursuits? (Romans 6:21).

(G. Burder.)


1. "The body" or "the flesh" (Romans 7:25; Galatians 5:17) or "the earthly members" (Colossians 3:5; Romans 8:23).(1) Is regarded as the source of —

(a)Our animal appetites (Galatians 5:19, "fornication," etc.).

(b)Our selfish passions (Galatians 5:20, "hatred," etc.).

(c)Our mental perversities (Galatians 5:20, "idolatry," etc.) —all those false notions which are called (Ephesians 2:3) the working of the understanding that judges according to sense, as distinguished from the pure reason (Romans 1:21).(2) All these workings of "the flesh" are sinful, i.e. "abnormal, contrary to the end for which God has made us" (Romans 7:14, 18).

2. "The spirit," "the mind," "the inward man" (Romans 7:22, 23) is the source of our —

(1)Moral principles (Romans 7:22; Matthew 26:41).

(2)Social affections (Galatians 5:22).

3. These workings of "the Spirit" are in endless conflict with the workings of the flesh (Galatians 5:17; Romans 8:7-25), but with no sufficient power to overcome them (Romans 7:18, 19; Matthew 26:41); so that the result is only self-contradiction, self-condemnation, misery, and death (Romans 7:24).

II. WITH GOD, FINAL VICTORY (vers. 2-4). "The deeds of the body," or "works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19), mean the products of our lower nature, whether of thought, or feeling, or act. To "mortify," "crucify" (Galatians 5:24), "deaden" them (Colossians 3:5), is to reduce them to impotence. Observe the antithesis: If ye put to death your animal nature, you yourself, who are spirit, shall live. And this death of sin is to be effected by the life of God in the soul.

1. Raise us above sin. God's Spirit in us raises us into the region of spirit. And in this atmosphere sin cannot reach us (1 John 5:18). The thought of sin is most alien when the thought of God is most vivid. In fellowship with holy men, how hateful sin appears! How much more, therefore, when in fellowship with the Holy One? Aaron down in the plain was soon seduced from God's commandments. Moses in the mount grasped them firmly with both hands. Whence the importance of prayer (Matthew 17:21).

2. Hearten us against sin (ver. 15). Knowing that we are on God's side, we know also that God is on our side (Genesis 6:24; Numbers 19:9; 2 Kings 6:16; Isaiah 41:10). And so the animation of Moses fills us: "Fear not I Stand still, and see the salvation God can work" (Exodus 14:13, 14). Jesus, full of the spirit of Sonship, put back easily all the suggestions of the tempter.

3. Make us triumphant over sin. The things impossible to man by himself are possible to him with God (1 John 4:4; Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 4:13).

(Preb. Griffith.)

In the text itself there are two general parts considerable. First, a conditional threatening or dreadful commination upon supposition of miscarriage: "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die." When it is said of such persons that they shall die, we must take it in the full latitude and extent of death, that is — First, as to temporal death, or natural, which consists in the mere separation of soul and body. This it holds good, according to a twofold account. First, in the course of God's justice, who hath so ordained it and appointed it (Romans 1:32). Secondly, from a connection of the cause with the effect. Sin, and especially a living and conversing in the ways of it, brings death. Secondly, spiritual death, which consists in deprivation of grace, and holiness, and peace, and spiritual comfort. "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die." Thirdly, there is another death, and that is death eternal. The separation of soul and body from God for ever in hell. And this is also consequent upon living after the flesh. The second is the conditional promise or comfortable intimation upon supposition of repentance and new obedience in these: "But if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh," etc. Wherein again we have four particulars. First, to speak of the duty itself, which is mortification. "If ye," etc. This is a duty which lies upon every Christian, to exercise and inure himself to mortification, that is, to the killing and crucifying of sin in him. For the better opening of this present point unto us, there are two things especially which are here to be declared by us. First, wherein this mortifying of sin, whereof we now speak, does mainly and principally consist. And this we may take according to these following explications. First, it does imply an active and spontaneous opposition of sin of our own accord. Secondly, it does imply difficulty and trouble in the performance of it. Dying, it is usually with some pain: as being that which nature does struggle with and strive against, especially violent death and that which follows upon killing. This, it is painful, especially. Created nature does not more abhor natural death, the death of the body, than corrupted nature does abhor this mystical death. The killing of sin. Oh, it is that which a carnal person cannot endure to hear or think of. This arises from that strength and settlement which sin hath in the heart. As we see it is again in nature, that those who have the strongest constitutions, they have commonly the painfullest deaths. Even so is it likewise in grace: those who have the strongest corruption, they have the hardest mortification. Thirdly, this mortification, it does imply a weakening of the power and vigour of sin in us. That look as a body which is dead, it is thereby made unserviceable and unfit for the actions of life. So a man also, that is spiritually mortified, sin is in him made unactive and unfit for the former services and performances which proceeded from it. Fourthly, it implies universality, that is, a resisting of all kind of sin, without exception. Killing, it is a destroying of life in every part. There must not be only a restraining of some sins, but a fighting against all. Where any one reigns there is no true mortification. Fifthly and lastly, it implies continuance and the often renewing of this act time after time. The second is the grounds or reasons which do make for the performance of it, which may be reduced to these heads. First, the nature of sin and the thing itself, which is to be mortified, and that is our mortal and deadly enemy. "If a man find his enemy," says Saul, "will he let him go well away?" Enmity, it invites destruction as well as threatens it. Secondly, there is reason for it also from that power which is wrought in a Christian by Christ's Spirit tending thereto, and the special virtue which is contained in the death and sufferings of Christ to this purpose. Because ye are dead and risen with Christ, therefore "mortify your earthly members," etc. Thirdly, it is requisite also from that obedience which we owe to God in the whole course of our lives. No man can be alive to God, that is, perform lively service to Him, but he that is first dead to sin, that is, that hath sin and corruption first crucified and mortified in him. Fourthly, as an evidence of our justification and the forgiveness of our sins unto us. No man can be so comfortably assured that his sin is pardoned that does not find his sin mortified. Wherever sin remains in the power of it, it remains also in the guilt of it. To quicken and provoke us so much the more hereunto, let us take in these considerations with us. First, the command of God, who has laid this duty upon us. Secondly, our own interest and the great good which we reap from it, both in point of grace and comfort, and at last of salvation itself, as it follows afterwards in the text, where it is said, "Ye shall live." Thirdly, the evil of the contrary, and the great disparagement which lies upon sin unmortified. Sin it is an odious business in many respects, and hath sundry inconveniences with it. First, there is no true pleasure or contentment in it. Secondly, sin is also insatiable, and the more that men give way unto it the more it prevails still upon them. Thirdly, sin is deceitful and dangerous. It makes us slaves to Satan; it makes us enemies to God; it crucifies Christ; it fights against the soul. Now for the right performance of this duty, and that we may do it so as we should do, it is requisite for us to take notice of these three following rules, or directions, which conduce hereto. First, there must be a steadfast purpose of opposing and resisting of sin with might and main. Secondly, there must be a diligent heed for the avoiding of all occasions of sin and all inducements which lead thereunto. Thirdly, there must be a conscionable use of all such means as serve to the subduing of sin in us. What are they? First, a sober and moderate use of the creatures in those things which in their own nature are lawful and warrantable. Secondly, prayer and fasting; that is another help likewise. Thirdly, and principally, an act of faith in the death and sufferings of Christ. The second is the object of this duty, or the matter which it is conversant about. And that is here expressed to be the deeds of the body. What is the meaning of this? that is, indeed, the sins and miscarriages of the whole man. We are not here to take it in the limited sense only, but in the extended. This work of mortification, it begins first of all in the inward man, and so ends in the outward; only the outward is here mentioned and named. And it is said the deeds of the body expressly, because the body it is that wherein sin does especially show and discover itself; whereas the mind is not so easily discerned in the corruptions of it. So 2 Corinthians 5:10. The things which are done in the body, though comprehending the soul likewise, the actions of the whole person; and Colossians 3:9, the old man with his deeds. The third particular is the principle whence this duty doth proceed in us, or the means whereby we perform it. And that is here expressed to be the Spirit. "If ye by the Spirit," etc. By the Spirit we are here to understand the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit which is called so emphatically. Mortification of sin is the proper work of this Spirit in us, and is effected in no other way. The same Spirit that is active in quickening of us and in infusing of grace into us; the same Spirit is also active in mortifying of us and in killing of sin in us. This must needs be so upon these following considerations. First, from the strength and power of sin, and that rooting which it hath in the soul. None can overcome the strong man, but some one that is stronger than he indeed is. Secondly, from the proper means of the killing of sin in us, which, as we showed before, is the application of Christ's death unto us. Now, this is done only by the Spirit which is active in us to this purpose. Thirdly, from the covenant of grace which God hath made with all believers, which is to bestow His Spirit upon them to this purpose, as Ezekiel 36:27. The fourth, and last, is the benefit or reward consequent upon it. That is in these words, "Ye shall live." It holds good in all the notions and specifications of life whatsoever. First, of natural life, "Length of days is in her right hand " (Proverbs 3:16). Secondly, of spiritual life, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith," etc. Thirdly, of eternal life (Romans 6:22), "Ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." And Galatians 6:8, "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption."

(Thomas Horton, D.D.)

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.)


1. A breaking of the league naturally held with sin (Ephesians 5:11; Hosea 14:8).

2. A declaration of open hostility. When leagues between princes are broken war ensues. This hostility begins in cutting off all the supplies of sin (Romans 13:14, etc.).

3. A powerful resistance, by using all the weapons of the Christian armoury (Ephesians 6:13, 14, etc.).

4. A killing of sin.


1. Negatively.(1) All cessation from some particular sin is not a mortification. It may only be —(a) An exchange. It may be a divorce from a sin odious to the world, and an embracing another that hath more specious pretences.(b) A cessation from some outward gross acts only, not from a want of will to sin. There may be pride, ambition, covetousness, uncleanness, when they are not externally acted; which is more dangerous, as infectious diseases are when they are hindered by cold from a kindly eruption, and strike inward to the heart, and so prove mortal.(c) A cessation merely because of the alteration of the constitution. Lust reigns in young men, but its empire decays in an old withered body; some plants which grow in hot countries will die in colder climates. Ambition decays in age when strength is wasted, but sprouts up in a young man. A present sickness may make an epicure nauseate the dainties which he would before rake even in the sea to procure.(d) A cessation may be forced by some forethoughts of death, some pang of conscience, or some judgment of God; which as a pain in one part of the body may take away a man's appetite, but when removed, his appetite returns.(e) A cessation from want of opportunity.(2) Restraints from sin are not mortification of it.(a) Mortification is always from an inward principle, restraints from an outward. A restraint is merely a pull back, by a stronger power, but mortification is from a strength given, a new mettle put into the soul (Ephesians 3:16).(b) Mortification proceeds from an anger with, and a hatred of, sin, whereas restraints are from a fear of the consequents of sin; as a man may love the wine, which is as yet too hot for his lips.(c) Mortification is a voluntary, rational work of the soul; restraints are not so.

2. Positively. The signs are —(1) When the beloved lust doth not stir upon a temptation that did usually excite, as it is a sign of the clearness of a fountain when after the stirring of the water the mud doth not appear; or as it is with a man that is sick — set the most savoury meat before him, if his appetite be not provoked, it is an argument of the strength of his distemper, and where it is lasting, of his approaching death. None will question the deadness of that tree at the root which doth not bud upon the return of the spring sun; nor need we question the weakness of that corruption which doth not stir upon the presenting a suitable temptation.(2) When we meet with few interruptions in duties of worship. Easy compliance with diversions is a sign of an unmortified frame; as it is the sign of much weakness in a person, and the strength of his distemper, when the least blow or jog makes him let go his hold of anything.(3) When we bring forth the fruits of the contrary graces. The more sweet and full fruit a tree bears, the more evidence there is of the weakness of those suckers which are about the root to hinder its generous productions.


1. Unsuitable to a state of glory (Colossians 1:12). Conformity to Christ is to fit us for heaven, He descended to the grave before He ascended; so our sins must die before our souls can mount. It is very unsuitable for sin's drudges to have a saint's portion. Every vessel must be emptied of its foul water before it can receive that which is clean. No man pours rich wine into old casks.

2. Such as God cannot delight in. To delight in such would be to have no delight in his own nature. To keep sin alive is to defend it against the will of God, and to challenge the combat with our Maker.

3. Against the whole design of the gospel. Rather than sin should not die, Christ would die Himself; it is therefore a high disesteem of Christ to preserve the life of sin, and if we defend what He died to conquer, how can we expect to enjoy what He died to purchase? For what the grace of the gospel doth more especially teach, read Titus 2:4; Psalm 5:4. It is an inseparable character of them that are Christ's, that "they have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."Conclusion: Let us labour to mortify sin. If we will not be the death of sin, sin will be the death of our souls.

1. Implore the help of the Spirit.

2. Listen to His convictions.

3. Plead the death of Christ, the end of which was to triumph over sin.

4. Often think of Divine precepts.

5. Be jealous of our own hearts. Venture not to breathe in corrupt air, for fear of infection.

6. Bless God for whatsoever mortifying grace we have received.

(S. Charnock, B.D.)

I. WHAT IT IS TO MORTIFY. This word occurs but twice in the whole Scriptures — in the text, and in Colossians 3:5.

1. "To mortify" is now commonly used in a far less extreme sense than its original signification. Thus we speak of mortified pride, which has been simply disappointed of its passing object; whereas to mortify is to be in a process of death, though joined to something living — as a diseased limb may be mortified, while the other parts of the body are healthy; and it is only by the process of the healthy part of the body casting off from itself the mortified flesh, that the whole system can escape dissolution. In this sense we are to understand the mortification of the carnal and ungodly desires, which the power of Divine grace, the vital energy of the new creature, will enable it to cast from itself, and thereby save the soul alive, which the process of moral putrefaction had otherwise corrupted and slain. Hence the striking force of the injunctions — "Crucify the flesh"; "put away the old man"; "cast out the bondwoman"; "cut off the offending right hand," or "pluck out the right eye."

2. Then to mortify sin is not to deal equivocally with it, to fight against its practices and leave untouched the principle, as Saul slew the Amalekites, but spared Agag. To mortify sin is not merely to smite and oppose it, but to put it to death — to have "no confidence in the flesh" — to "yield no member to uncleanness" — to "deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts" — to "avoid the very appearance of evil" — to "let it not be so much as named among you as becometh saints." It means, that "if sinners entice, we are to consent not"; but in every sense to "be not overcome with evil," but to "resist the devil, and he will flee from us," clinging hard and fast by "the God of peace, who shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly."

II. WHAT IS TO BE MORTIFIED? "The deeds of the body" — that is, not one deed, but all, whether of the inward or of the outward man. This may be illustrated by the injunction — "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out"; not that Jesus would have us literally maim the body which He created perfect. But as He had just been speaking of the adultery of the eye, as distinguished from, yet identified in guilt with the actual sin, and there called it "the adultery of the heart," His meaning is, that we should begin the cure of sin at the seat of the disease, the corrupt heart — that we should destroy the fruits of sin by plucking up the lust at its roots. What so delicate, so useful, or so expressive a feature as the right eye! But if rather than sin, and imperil the whole body, the right eye is to be plucked out, then we learn that the tenderest affections and the most necessary comforts that would impair the beauty of holiness are all to be sacrificed. Again, "If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off." The right hand is the emblem of dignity — Joseph sits at the right hand of Pharaoh; of power "Thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things"; of friendship — "To me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship"; of covenants — "Though Coniah were the signet on My right hand"; of industry and business — "Let my right hand forget her cunning."If, then, the "right hand" that casts a stumbling-block in our way is to be "cut off," then is the place of secular dignity to be resigned, if we find it lifting up our hearts above humility. And the post of power must be renounced if we discover that it has led us to forget our weakness apart from God. And the bond of friendship, if it has led us to soften down the points of distinction between the worldling and the believer, must be broken. And the covenant with ungodliness must be dissolved. Even industry in business may be in our way, and if so we must consent to mortification here. Better cut off the hand than lose the head; rather maim the body than mar the soul. If religion be worth anything, it is worth everything; therefore sacrifice anything but Christ.

III. BY WHOM THE DEEDS OF THE BODY ARE TO BE MORTIFIED? There are two agents — the one active, the Holy Spirit; the other passive, the believer himself. "If ye through the Spirit do mortify." We can do nothing without Him; He will do nothing without us.

IV. THE ANIMATING RESULT OF THE SUCCESSFUL CONFLICT WITH THE FLESH. "Ye shall live" a life of grace and holiness, of estrangement from the world and communion with God; of happiness, usefulness, and comfort on earth, and of glory and blessedness in heaven.

(J. B. Owen, M.A.)

1. We shall all agree, who have tried to do right and avoid wrong, that there goes on in us a strange struggle. We wish to do a right thing, and at the very same time long to do a wrong one, as if we were a better and a worse man struggling for the mastery. One may conquer, or the other. We may be like the drunkard who cannot help draining off his liquor, though he knows that it is going to kill him; or we may be like the man who conquers his love for drink, and puts the liquor away, because he knows that he ought not to take it. We know too well, many of us, how painful this inward struggle is. We all understand too well how Paul was ready at times to cry. "Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" We can understand too the parable of Plato, who says, that the soul of man is like a chariot, guided by a man's will, but drawn by two horses — the one horse white, beautiful and noble, well-broken and winged, always trying to rise and fly upward with the chariot toward heaven; but the other black, evil, and unmanageable, always trying to rush downward, and drag the chariot and the driver into hell.

2. In the text St. Paul explains this struggle. First, there is a flesh in us — that is, an animal nature. We come into the world as animals do-eat, drink, sleep as they do — have the same passions as they have — and our carnal bodies die exactly as they die. But are we nothing more? God forbid. We know that to be a man we must be something more than a mere brute — for when we call any one a brute, what do we mean? That he has given himself up to his animal nature till the man in him is dead, and only the brute remains. Our giving way to the same selfish, shameless passions, which we see in the lower animals, is letting the "brute" in us conquer. The shameless and profligate person — the man who beats his wife — or ill-treats his children — or in any wise tyrannises over those who are weaker than himself, gives way to the "brute" within him. He who grudges, envies, tries to aggrandise himself at his neighbour's expense — he too gives way to the "brute" within him, and puts on the likeness of the dog which snatches and snarls over his bone. He who spends his life in cunning plots and mean tricks, gives way to the "brute" in him, just as much as the fox or ferret. And those, let me say, who, without giving way to those grosset vices, let their minds be swallowed up with vanity, always longing to be seen and looked at, and wondering what folks will say of them, they too give way to the flesh, and lower themselves to the likeness of animals. As vain as a peacock, says the old proverb. And what shall we say of them who like the swine live only for eating and drinking and enjoyment? Or what of those who like the butterflies spend all their time in frivolous amusement? Do not all these in some way or other live after the flesh? And do they not fulfil St. Paul's words, "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die"?

3. But some one will say — "Of course we shall all die — good and bad alike." Then why does our Lord say, "He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die"? And why does St. Paul say, "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live"? Let us look at the text again. "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die." If you give way to those animal passions you shall die; not merely your bodies — they will die in any case — the animals do — for animals they are, and as animals die they must. But over and above that, you yourselves shall die — your character, your manhood or your womanhood, your immortal soul will die. There is a second death to which that first death of the body is a mere trivial and harmless accident, and that may begin in this life, and if it be not stopped and cured in time, may go on for ever.

4. This is the dark side of the matter. But there is also a bright side. "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." If you will be true to your better selves, if you will listen to and obey the Spirit of God, when He puts into your hearts good desires, and makes you long to be just and true, pure and sober, kind and useful. If you will cast away and trample under foot animal passions, low vices, you shall live. You shall live, your very soul and self for ever — all that is merciful, kind, pure, noble, useful — in one word, all in you that is like Christ, like God, that is spirit and not flesh, shall live for ever. So it must be, for "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Those who let the Spirit of God lead them upward instead of letting their own animal nature drag them downward, are the sons of God. And how can a son of God perish? How can he perish, who like Christ is full of the fruits of the Spirit? — of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance? The world did not give them to him, and the world cannot take them from him. They were not bestowed on him at his bodily birth — neither shall they be taken from him at his bodily death.

5. Choose, especially you who are young and entering into life. Remember the parable of the old heathen. Choose in time whether the better horse shall win or the worse. And let no one tell you, "We shall do a great many wrong things before we die. Every one does that; but we hope we shall be able to make our peace with God before we die." That kind of religion has done more harm than most kinds of irreligion. It tells you to take your chance of beginning at the end. Common sense tells you that the only way to get to the end is by beginning at the beginning, which is now. Do not talk about making your peace with God some day — like a naughty child playing truant till the last moment, and hoping that the schoolmaster may forget to punish it.

(Charles Kingsley, M.A.)

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