We found last time in our studies in Galatians 5:17 that the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. These words describe the warfare between two enemies battling each other – a war of life and death.
In our text this week the company of this war are described. First depicted in verses 19-21, we find the idle, useless, and barren flesh, which yields no fruit, contrasted to the fruit of the spirit described in verses 22-23. In essence these are images of what the enemies of God look like in verses 19-21 – adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; and what the friends of God resemble in verses 22 and 23 – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Paul then argues that such spiritual fruit is only borne in those who are Christ’s [who] have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Philip Ryken has written,
“The Holy Spirit does not produce fruit in the Christian life without our cooperation. There are two things every Christian must do to remain fruitful. The first is to mortify the flesh (Gal. 5:24). Mortification is one of the most neglected doctrines of the Christian faith, but also one of the most important. Mortification is what Paul was talking about when he told the Romans, “consider yourselves dead to sin” (Rom. 6:11). The spirit is engaged in mortal combat with the flesh. The desires of the regenerate wage war against the flesh. In this war there will be no truce.”
The new man makes no peace pacts with the flesh. Sin must be put to death. To the cross, with the works of the flesh! Escort the POWs out of their cells; it’s time for their crucifixion! This is how John Stott explains mortification,
“To take up the cross was our Lord’s vivid figure of speech for self-denial. Every follower of Christ is to behave like a condemned criminal and carry His cross to the place of execution. Now Paul takes the metaphor to its logical conclusion. We must not only take up our cross and walk with it, but actually see that the execution takes place. We are to take the flesh, our willful and wayward self, and nail it to the cross.”
This week study Romans 6 in order that you may learn and understand the forgotten doctrine of mortification.
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