Date: March 11, 2018
Be Killing Sin, Part 4
Text: Psalm 33, Luke 7:36-50
Pastor Matthew Burt
Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
BIG IDEA: Be Killing Sin, Part 4
In the front flap of PB’s Bible is written this cry of desperation from William Gurnall:
“Lord, I am hunted with such a temptation, dogged with such a lust, either thou must pardon it, or I am damned; mortify it, or I shall be a slave to it; take me into the bosom of thy love, for Christ’s sake; castle me in the arms of thy everlasting strength, it is in thy power to save me from, or give me up into, the hands of my enemy. I have no confidence in myself or any other: into thy hands I commit my cause, my life, and rely on thee.’ This dependence of a soul undoubtedly will awaken the almighty power of God for such a one’s defense. He hath sworn the greatest oath that can come out of his blessed lips, even by himself, that such as thus fly for refuge to hope in him, shall have strong consolation, Heb. vi. 17. This indeed may give the saints the greater boldness of faith to expect kindly entertainment when he repairs to God for refuge, because he cannot come before he is looked for. God having set up his name and promises as a strong tower, both calls his people into these chambers, and expects they should betake themselves thither”. (William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, I:30)
For several weeks we have been spending time in Hebrews 12. We are trying to understand and apply what we are asked to do here: to lay aside the Sin which clings so closely. The weights are seemingly benign but they will hinder us and slow us down. We looked at several of those in the last Sunday of January. For the last 3 weeks we have been slogging through the muck of trying to get a helpful picture of what it means to lay aside the Sin that clings so closely to us; perhaps like a second skin. And it has not been pleasant because we don’t like to be reminded of who we really are. It’s tough enough when we remind one another of our sin and we don’t like it. This is who we are – it hurts and it’s not fun. We are reminded in this that we don’t want to be like the person described in James 2:22-23 – don’t be just hearers of the word but be doers of the word. Don’t be like that guy who looks in the mirror and sees his disheveled appearance and does nothing about it. So we have to be reminded of these things. Or we will be like that one with spinach in his teeth – smiling. It’s not pleasant but there is solid ground at the end of this swamp. We are drunken in our sin as the writer describes the drunkard in Proverbs 23: 29-35. We come to a sermon and then leave saying, “They struck me, but I was not hurt; they beat me but I did not feel it.” Our approach instead must be likewhat we read in the prayer titled, “Self-Knowledge” in the Valley of Vision. The supplicant there says, “it was a good day to me when thou given me a glimpse of myself. Sin is my greatest evil, but thou I are my greatest good. I have cause to loath myself…for sinners bring judgment in thinning their sins are small, or that God is not angry with them.” For his reason, we spent time hearing the danger of sin last week.
Today, we want to begin to dig ourselves out of the muck and begin to step onto solid ground. Mortification of sin – put to death the deeds of the flesh. We want to live so we need to know how to do this thing called the mortification of sin so we can live well.
OUTLINE FOR TODAY:
Point 1:Definition of mortification.
Point 2:Describe mortification of sin in steps.
Point 1:What do we mean when we talk about mortification?
“The weakening of the habit of sin or lust that it shall not, with that violence, earnestness, frequency, rise up, conceive, tumultuate, provoke, entice, disquiet, as naturally as it is apt to do.” John Owen
Mortification Defined by John Owen
What mortification is not:
- It does not equal the total destruction of the sin corruption within us. It’s called indwelling sin because we are rebels by nature. Even when we have been born again, it is still in there within us wanting to burst forth. It’s a weakening of sin. There will never be in this life, a total sinlessness. There are some who teach this but they are wrong. There won’t even be a time when we are free from sin for an entire day. This does not take sin seriously. Even the thought of sin is as offensive to God as the act.
- It does not mean that we have a harsh or severe approach to my body. This was the mistake of the aesthetics. Right now, millions of people are giving up something for Lent as a way of become more holy. But to deny myself is to say no to myself as Lord of my life. It’s not like I can control these sins by hurting ourselves. But we need to be careful in how we pamper ourselves. We can open the door to sinfulness in our lives
- It is not just a change in behavior. Just by changing something on the outside doesn’t mean I am going to change something on the inside. Have we met this person who used to be a smoker. Now that they don’t smoke they have become an evangelist for not smoking. That’s not how it works with sin. Ex: Bill had been a drinker. By God’s grace he didn’t drink anymore but he drank his own homemade rootbeer. It was the yeastiest rootbeer! He had changed the outward behavior but not the inward desire for the yeast. We don’t just add some godliness in our lives to counter act the ungodliness in our lives. Having a silk pocket square, doesn’t make PB dressed. If he came with a smelly dirty suite with a silk pocket square he wouldn’t be dressed well. It’s not just adding an ornament to your life. What if you are angry. If you go to anger management. That’s not going to change it. It’s not just managing a particular sin but changing the desire on the inside.
- It’s not just a life that is free from the outbreak of a particular sin. If I were given to a looseness of tongue and I was put into solitary confinement, I would conquer gossip because there was no one to talk to but my heart would still want to talk to someone. In my mind I would think how awful those people are.
What is mortification of sin?
- It is a continual fighting against sin as the root for the sins in my life. We need to know the ways of the enemy, the occasions of its successes in my life. I need to know how it works in my life. When David prays “my sin is ever before me”. In David’s case it was the sin of his past – seducing this woman and murdering her husband and lying to cover it up. But there is also the remaining sin of my heart. My heart is far worse than I can describe.
- It is recognizing that I must daily be aware that sin is in my life. It’s horrible. We are not dealing with bad habits or personality issues. We need to be aware that we are dealing with a power within us that wants our destruction.
- It is a constant fight toward victory. I want to see small an incremental successes. Just because I stop off the sidewalk and into the gutter doesn’t mean I need to stay in the gutter. I get back up on the sidewalk!
- It is also to learn to answer the question of why do I even care? If my sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ, we do I care about mortifying my sin? One reason is self-serving – I want peace in my life. I want to be done with this slavery. There is no rest and quietness in the life that leaves even one sin unmortified. It’s possible that you can live with unmortified sin in your life. You can say it’s too strong for me: I can’t help but drink. That person says I can’t help it, I am just going to live with it. Butin living with it there is all sorts of turmoil.
“Will destroy the comforts; yea and eat out the vigor, activity, and liveliness of their graces, that, though they do live, they will live a lingering and decaying life…they will live, as it were a dying life.” Ezekiel Hopkins
Second, I want to work on this because one sin leads to others.
Point 2: Steps to Mortify Sin
- Recognize that you need God in your life, Christ as your savior, and the Holy Spirit in my life. Throw your sins on Jesus. If you do not, then the best you can do is live a good, moral life that will end in hell.
- After I know that I am a believer, I must ask God to help me to grow in my hatred of sin. Hatred of sin is different than seeing sin that bothers me. I need to have a hatred of sin that is exhibited in the wrath of God against sin. Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out by the wrath of God. The wrath of God led to the destruction of the nation of Israel and sent them into exile. God’s wrath is always against sin. It’s not just the bloody mess that Jesus was reduced to, it’s the wrath of God. That was just the wrath of man. The wrath of God is defined by the depths of the punishment of hell. We need to say that here is the Bible’s description of hell: this place defines the horrors of my sin. The hatred of sin is shown in the deep depravation that the Savior experienced during His life on earth. Before He came to earth, He had only heard the sweet and loving praises of His father. But from the moment He was born, He heard instead the curses and the horrible talk of men. That was His suffering. It’s not just the cross and the tomb – it’s all of it. Our sin grieves the Holy Spirit of God. I need to realize that God’s wrath is stored up.
I need to begin this whole process with a strong resolve that I will not sin. When sin presents itself, I am not going to bite. Resolve to not sin but even more so resolve to not entertain the first appearance of sin. It’s like saying I won’t inhale, I will just play with it. Our resolution must be free from reservations or limitations. Make a resolution that has no allowances for the flesh. Be killing sin or sin will put you to death. Resolve to kill sin. PB is resolved that he will never walk away from his wife. It’s a resolution that is made once and renewed often. I am going to say no to sin.
“In the Christian life a general resolution is absolutely necessary, of being faithful to God, never to have correspondence with his enemies, but always to cleave to our duty, notwithstanding the allurements or terrors of the world to supplant our integrity, and surprise our constancy.”William Bates’ .
3. The psalmist writes in Psalm 119:106 – “ I have sworn an oath and confirmed it to keep your righteousness”. I made a promise. We will not only not disobey but we will obey.We don’t bargain with God. It’s an all or nothing deal. So my resolution is to not disobey; my resolution is to obey.
You may hear the temptation from Satan to say this is just too hard. You can’t do everything. You can’t do this. Thomas Brooks (Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices) says this is the remedy:
Dwell more upon the necessity of the service and duty, then on the difficulty that attends the duty. You should reason thus with your souls: O our souls, though such and such a service be hard and difficult, yet are they exceedingly necessary for the honor of God and the keeping of his name in the world, and the keeping under of sin, and the strengthening of weak graces, and so the reviving of languishing comforts, and for the keeping clear and bright your blessed evidences, and for the scattering of your fears, and for the raising of your hope, and for the gladdening the hearts of the righteous, and stopping the mouths of unrighteous souks, who are ready to take all advantages to blaspheme the name of God, and throw dirt and contempt upon his people and ways. O, never leave thinking on the necessity of this and that duty, till your soul be lifted up far above all the difficulties hat do attend religious duties.”
Look at the necessity and rewards of doing this. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. J is the ultimate witness to the faithfulness of God. Jesus is the ultimate recipient of the power of the Holy Spirit to make it to the end. He came to earth as a human person. Everything He did on earth He did by the power of the Holy Spirit. This same Holy Spirit is available to us. He is an example of aperson who was fully submissive to the Holy Spirit. So no matter how bad the colors of sin are painted in your life, you have the same Holy Spirit of Christ indwelling in you who will take you home. It’s not impossible no matter what Satan tells you. YOU set aside every weight, every sin that clings so closely – run the race keeping your eyes on Jesus.