Yesterday, in our ongoing series through Romans, I preached Romans 8:12-13. As I’ve previously stated, I believe that Paul is the greatest church planting, pastor, theologian in church history. I likewise believe that Romans is the most important book in the Bible. In addition, I believe that Romans 8 is the most important chapter in Romans—and the most important chapter in the entire Bible. Therefore, we find ourselves in a rich study through Romans and it’s amazing what God is teaching us about salvation.
In many ways, Romans 8 is a commentary about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In a very unique manner, the Holy Spirit who most often places the focus upon Christ, pulls back the veil just a bit for us to see the role and responsibility of the Spirit of God in our salvation from beginning to end. The Holy Spirit is involved in our regeneration and his indwelling role involves the work of progressive sanctification.
In Romans 8:12-13, we find that the Holy Spirit is leading believers to put to death the deeds of the body. The language of “put to death” is what has previously been translated, “mortify” and entire books and studies have been written on this very subject throughout church history. In his great work on mortification, John Owen states, “A man may easier see without eyes, speak without a tongue, than truly mortify one sin without the Spirit.”
The Christian life is not pictured as a “lazy lagoon” ride toward heaven. It’s a life of great trial, difficulty, and an ongoing war within to overcome sin, pursue holiness, submit to God, and progress in sanctification. This is not a passive calling. This is an active engagement by the believer and it’s here in Romans 8:12-13 that we see our calling as Christians to engage.
The difficult work of mortification of sin involves the engagement into the dark places of a person’s heart. This type of introspection and self-evaluation is not always exciting work. However, it’s necessary. Like black mold growing in dark places—if left unchecked it could become a serious and potentially deadly problem. Suppose you were seated on your couch on a Friday evening and something caught your eye and as you turned, you saw a Diamondback Rattlesnake crawling around the corner of your baseboard in your living room. What do you do at that point? Well, you certainly don’t reach for more popcorn and reengage into your latest Netflix episode. You immediately engage because of the threat the snake imposes.
The same thing is true with sin. We must never be at peace with sin, or it will demonstrate that we are not at peace with God. We must view all sin as venomous and deadly intruders into your hearts and lives. The calling is to war. We must engage. We can’t afford to wait. We are called to put it to death.
Psalm 139:23 – Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!