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Tuesday
Feb142012

Theological Term of the Week

mortification
The believer’s lifelong fight against sin with the goal of victory over it; the Christian’s active putting to death of self and sin.

  • From scripture: 

    For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

    Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:3-10 ESV)
  • From the Second Helvetic Confession:

    Chapter XIV

    Of Repentance and the Conversion of Man

    … We also disapprove of those who think that by their own satisfactions they make amends for sins committed. For we teach that Christ alone by his death or passion is the satisfaction, propitiation or expiation of all sins (Isa., ch.53; I Cor. 1:30). Yet as we have already said, we do not cease to urge the mortification of the flesh. We add, however, that this mortification is not to be proudly obtruded upon God as a satisfaction for sins, but is to be performed humble, in keeping with the nature of the children of God, as a new obedience out of gratitude for the deliverance and full satisfaction obtained by the death and satisfaction of the Son of God.

  • From Eighteen Words by J. I. Packer:
  • This is our aim; so to drain the life out of sin that it never moves again. We are not promised that we shall reach our goal in this life, but we are commanded to advance towards it by assaulting those inclinations and habits in which sin’s presence is recognized. We are not merely to resist its attacks. We are to take the initiative against it. We must seek, in Owen’s phrase, ‘not a mere disappointment of sin, that it be not  brought forth … but a victory over it, and pursuit of it to a complete conquest’; not merely the counteraction, but the eradication of it. Killing, so far as we can compass that, is the end in view.

  • From A Discourse of Mortification by Stephen Charnock:
  • Let us labour to mortify sin. If we will not be the death of sin, sin will be the death of our souls. Though the allurements of sin may be pleasant, the propositions seemingly fair, yet the end of all is death, Rom. v. 21. Death was threatened by God and executed upon Adam; death must be executed upon our sins, in order to the restoration of the eternal life of our souls. Love to everlasting life should provoke us, fear of everlasting death should excite us to this, the two most solemn and fundamental passions that put us upon action. ‘Why will you die?’ was God’s expostulation, Ezek. xxxiii. 11; Why should thou, O my soul, for a short vanishing pleasure, venture an eternal death? should be our expostulation with ourselves. This would be a curing our disease, bringing our soul into that order in part which was broken by the fall; by this the power of that tyrant that first headed and maintained the faction against God would be removed, and the soul recover that liberty and life it lost by disobeying of God. This would conduce to our peace. We have then a sprouting assurance when we are most victorious over our lusts: after every victory, God gives us a taste of the hidden manna, Rev. ii. 17. Unmortified lusts do only raise storms and tempests in the soul; less pains are required to the mortification of them than to the satisfaction of them. Sin is a hard taskmaster; there must be a pleasure in destroying so cruel an inmate. Gratitude engages us; God’s holiness and justice bruised Christ for us, and shall not we kill sin for him? An infinite love parted with a dear Son, and shall not our shallow finite love part with destroying lusts? We cannot love our sins so much as God loved his Son: he loved him infinitely. If God parted with him for us, shall not we part with our sins for him? He would have us kill it because it hurts us; the very command discovers affection as well as sovereignty, and minds us of it as our privilege as well as our duty. And to engage us to it, he hath sent as great a person to help us as to redeem us, viz, his Spirit; he sent one to merit it, and the other to assist us in it and work it in us, who is to bring back the creature to God by conquering that in it which hath so long detained it captive.
Learn more:
  1. Sinclair Ferguson: The Practice of Mortification
  2. Greg Herrick“Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers” - An Outline, Exposition and Summary
  3. A. W. Pink: The Doctrine of Mortification
  4. Christopher Love: The Mortification of Sin
  5. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Mortification of Sin (mp3)
Related terms:

Filed under Salvation.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (1)

"Sin is a hard taskmaster; there must be a pleasure in destroying so cruel an inmate"

Thanks for posting this from Charnock Rebecca. We got the set for Christmas and it's so voluminous I seriously doubt I ever would have found this gem otherwise.

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

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