Date:  March 18, 2018

There is no mortification of sin apart from the Holy Spirit.

Text: Psalm 15, Deuteronomy 7:6-16; 2 Timothy 4

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.



Hebrews 12:1-2

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, 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.

Romans 8:12-17

So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.


BIG IDEA:There is no mortification of sin apart from the Holy Spirit.


For the past five times that we have been together we have been working through these verses. As we try to put these two verses together we will also turn to Galatians 5. In a sense, Pastor Burt is putting himself in that cloud of witnesses to say to us God is faithful – God is faithful– Keep on – Keep on.  He wants to encourage us to put to death the deeds of the flesh but also to live; we should seek life. We’ve heard a lot about sin but we probably have just scratched the surface. But we have heard enough about sin to give us a greater awareness of the conflict/warfare that is ahead of us in our Christian life. Hopefully we have learned enough about sin that it would melt our hearts. This melted heart is one of the characteristics that comes up in Thomas Watson’s book entitled A Godly Man.  One of the characteristics of a Christian is a “gospel weeper”. Why should I be a person who weeps? Shouldn’t the fact that my sin is pardoned give me joy? Why then does a Christian weep?  Watson gives us four reasons:

1) He weeps for the INDWELLING of sin, the law in his members (Rom. 7:23), the outbursts and first risings of sin. His nature is a poisoned fountain. A regenerate person grieves that he carries about with him, that which is enmity to God! His heart is like the wide sea in which there are innumerable creeping things (Psa. 104:25) — vain, sinful thoughts. A child of God laments hidden wickedness; he has more evil in him than he knows of. There are those meanderings in his heart which he cannot trace — an unknown world of sin. “Who can understand his errors?” (Psa. 19:12).

2) A godly man weeps for the ADHERENCE of corruption. If he could get rid of sin, there would be some comfort, but he cannot shake off this viper! Sin clings to him like leprosy! Though a child of God forsakes his sin, yet sin will not forsake him. “Concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season” (Dan. 7:12). So though the dominion of sin is taken away, yet its life is prolonged for a season; and while sin lives, it molests! …sin “wars against the soul” (1Pet. 2:11). And there is no cessation of arms until death. Will this not cause tears?

3) A child of God weeps that he is sometimes overcome by the PREVALENCE of corruption. “The evil I would not do, that I do.” (Rom. 7:19). Paul was like a man carried down the stream. How often a saint is overpoweredby pride and passion! When David had sinned, he steeped his soul in the brinish tears of repentance. It can only grieve a regenerate person to think that he should be so foolish — after he has felt the sting of sin — as yet to put this fire in his bosom again!

4) A godly heart grieves that he CANNOT BE MORE HOLY. It troubles him that he shoots so short of the rule and standard which God has set. “I would,” he says, “love the Lord with all my heart. But how defective my love is! How far short I come of what I should be; no, of what I might have been! What can I see in my life, but either blanks or blots?”

Wilhelmus a Brakel:
“Sanctification is the efficacious operation of God in elect, called, regenerated, and justified sinners, purifying them by means of the Word from the pollution of sin, transforming them according to the image of God, and ­­– by virtue of this internal principle of spiritual life – causing them to live according to His will expressed in the law of the ten commandments… We repeat, sanctification is an efficacious work of God.”


On one hand we have looked at sinfulness in our life and we weep.  We do perhaps find ourselves here from time to time. But it is worth asking God that all of us would find ourselves here all the time; there is a deep sadness for our sin. But we are not meant to sing the song of our life in Christ in a minor key!  Rather there is this crescendo that ends in a major key: but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live.  Christ will help us become all we are to be.  Today we will look at two major roles of Holy Spirit in this battle with sin. There is no mortification of sin in your life without the HOLY SPIRIT.  But with the HOLY SPIRIT there is life.


Point 1: How does the HOLY SPIRIT work in regeneration? Look at the HOLY SPIRIT works in the life of the unbeliever making him a believer

Point 2: How does the HOLY SPIRIT work in sanctification? The movement to becoming holy and successful in putting to death the deeds of the flesh.


Point 1:How does the HOLY SPIRIT work in regeneration?

There is no putting to death the deeds of the flesh if we have not first been given a new nature. Each and every person is born with a nature that is in hatred to God;  it is a corrupt nature that we call original sin. It is compelled to live in rebellion to God. This is the depravity of  man. There is a penalty for this rebellion. We are like archers in a contest with the target in front of us. We put the straightest, best arrow and we watch with sadness and grief that it doesn’t even make it to the target. The penalty is death. We know that everyone dies. That’s not what the scripture is talking about. There is a greater death; a more horrible death than physical death. There is the spiritual death that is an eternity of punishment where the worm never dies; fire and brimstone – hell. The word gehena (sp?) is where the trash was thrown over the walls of the city to get it out of the city. All this garbage is lit on fire; then there is new garbage and more fire. You have this unstable mass of garbage that has fire burning in it. If you were to walk on this pile, you would sink down into the fire. That’s the picture Jesus paints for us. That’s the bad news. But there is also some very good news. God has come into the world to change corrupt hearts into hearts that desire to serve God. The second person of the trinity was born to a mother and lived in perfect obedience to His father. Why did the sinless one die? He died in order that He would take on the wrath of the punishment of those He came to save. The good news is that death and hell and punishment need not be in our future but God’s grace and goodness can be. That’s what we mean by regeneration. How does that happen?

A) The HOLY SPIRIT illumines. The HOLY SPIRIT comes to make us awareof our sinfulness, give us an awareness of who God is and who we are. We start our lives as persons who are hell bent away from God. We are living in darkness and blindness. The HOLY SPIRIT is sent into the world to take away the ignorance and bring light into our lives so we can see who we are and what our need is. Did you ever wonder why you can tell the good news to someone and they might argue with you or they might say how nice it is for you. And you think, how can they not respond? The answer is that it takes the HOLY SPIRIT to shine the light of truth into the darkened heart.

B) But the HOLY SPIRIT does more than that; He convicts. There’s the person who says “yes I get it – I understand that Jesus died for my sins” but there is no remorse or fear of God’s wrath in their life. There’s no desire of change in their life. That’s because it takes the HOLY SPIRIT to convict the truth of the gospel.

C) The HOLY SPIRIT gives a new heart and a new ability to love God. The HOLY SPIRIT changes us.

Point 2: How does the HOLY SPIRIT work in sanctification?

The HOLY SPIRIT also works after we are born again. The fight against sin doesn’t end on that day. We call this ongoing fight against sin sanctification. What is sanctification?

Reformation Study Bible Notes

“According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 35), sanctification is “the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” It is a continuing change worked by God in us, freeing us from sinful habits and forming in us Christ-like affections, dispositions, and virtues. It does not mean that sin is instantly eradicated, but it is also more than a counteraction, in which sin is merely restrained or repressed without being progressively destroyed. Sanctification is a real transformation, not just the appearance of one.”

A) The HOLY SPIRIT shows us our sins in specificity. The HOLY SPIRIT takes that general “nobody is perfect” and makes it personal and specific. He moves from a generality of sin to a specificity of sin.  Ask God to reveal our specific sins. Our sins are individual and different from each other. One person might be given over to bitterness and the other person is like Teflon!  There are various kinds of specific sins that each and every one of us deals with. It is the HOLY SPIRIT that begins to show us these things. It’s helpful to use the most trustworthy guide: the 10 commandments. This is God’s desire for each and every one of else. The 10 commandments are who God is and He says I want you to be like me. We need to ask ourselves where in my life do I have other gods; take the name of God lightly; not keeping the Sabbath holy; rejecting God given authority; do I murder through my hatred or my tongue; am I inpure and immoral; do I not tell the truth; do I covet; am I guilty of theft.  We don’t do this because we don’t want to know. We can’t take it. The one who comes to illumine is also called the Comforter. With the illumination will also come comfort.

Look at the particular sins in my life by virtue of who we are as persons. We might ask ourselves are there sins in my life which is a basic temperament issues?  It could be experiences in the past that cause us to be more susceptible to certain sins in our life.  It could be your age – there are different weaknesses by age.

B) The HOLY SPIRIT uses means in our sanctification. The HOLY SPIRIT does not work in such a way that we get zapped into holiness but rather there are instruments or means that the HOLY SPIRIT uses to help us put sin to death. The ordinary means are the scriptures (preached), private devotion/prayer, corporate prayer, providence of the things around us.

C) The HOLY SPIRIT fructifies – he grows fruit in us. The fruits of the Spirit are found in Galatians 5. In verse 22 the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The idea here is that the HOLY SPIRIT has not come only to save us but also to grown fruit in our lives. We are not just pulling weeds out of hearts but we are planting seeds of righteousness. These fruits grow in the life of those who are walking in the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is to be shown our sinfulness and to plant these seeds in our lives. To be led by the Spirit is to have our minds on the things above. This means to have my affection stirred by the love and mercy of God, tremble at the wrath of God, have my will bent to the will of God in obedience.

Let me ask this: What is the state of your thinking? What do you think about? Is your mind on the flesh or on the spirit? Do you find your mind primarily occupied with this world?

James Buchanan

“The real state of our hearts may be determined by the prevailing bent of our thoughts, affections, and desires; for if these be mainly occupied with the world, and naturally and instinctively point to some earthly good, then we have reason to fear that we are still walking after the flesh, and not after the Spirit; but if they are chiefly set on things spirits and divine; if not only in the hour of prayer, but at other times, they recur to God, and Christ, and heaven, and dwell on these subjects with complacency and satisfaction, or at least with earnestness; then we have reason to hope that we may be of the number of those who have been quickened into spiritual life, of which the first and surest symptom is he appetite and desire for spiritual nourishment and food.”


The HOLY SPIRITis given to us to move our minds off the things of this world. When we walk according to the Spirit it means that we will habitually seek to cultivate and exercise these fruits in this life. Am I concerned with being more loving? Is love for God and love for others evident in my life? Do I live at peace with others? Is your goal to grow in patience? Is your goal to become more gentle to be known as a person of goodness? What are you doing to let the HOLY SPIRIT grow you?  Are you known for your meekness? These are the seeds and the flowers that are planted in the soil that we pulled the weeds out of.  God has guaranteed that we will be successful.