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Putting Sin to Death

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 31, 2024 12:01 am

Putting Sin to Death

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 31, 2024 12:01 am

In this fallen world, Christians will continue to struggle with sin. Today, Derek Thomas teaches that our victory in the ongoing war against our indwelling sin is found in the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer.

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Can you identify your besetting sin? Can you name them?

Can you write them down? And what pattern have you set in motion to put that sin to death? Some sins will take a lifetime, and some sins you might think you've put them to death and they grow back again. Sin.

It's a three-letter word that is much easier to use when speaking about the sin of others. What about my sin? Those sins that I personally, perhaps uniquely, am battling with right now. Those are the sins we'll see today that we're called to put to death. Welcome to the Wednesday edition of Renewing Your Mind and to a message that is very pointed because the words of the Apostle Paul are pointed, the call for us as Christians to be putting sin to death.

What does that look like? How do we, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the flesh? That's what Derek Thomas will address as he comes to Romans 8 and verses 12 and 13.

As a reminder, tomorrow will be the final day to request this series and the companion book at renewingyourmind.org, so be sure to request your copies while there's still time. Here's Dr. Thomas on what used to be referred to as the mortification of sin. We come now to two verses that I have to tell you are going to be painful.

You need to prepare for the knife. Paul is going to do some surgery. He's been talking about the body, the body and the mind. But in these last few verses, prior to verse 12, he's been talking about the body. In verse 11, if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. And he's talking there, of course, about the resurrection and that we will be resurrected with physical bodies. But meanwhile, here on earth in this period between life and death, or between life and the world to come, we work out our sanctification in physical bodies, in the flesh. And so, in verse 12, he says, So then, brothers, 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. Put to death the deeds of the body, death the deeds of the body. Former translations, the King James Version, for example, uses the word mortify, to mortify the flesh.

The issue before us is mortification. Paul returns to it again, actually using a different Greek word in Colossians chapter 3 in the opening verses. This is a passage made very famous by John Owen. John Owen wrote a famous treatise based on this text on the mortification of sin. They were actually sermons that were delivered at Oxford to teenage boys, although we read the book today, and it has had enormous influence in the lives of many, many people. And Dr. Sproul used to refer a great deal to John Owen's treatise on mortification.

Sinclair Ferguson, for example, was the person who introduced me to John Owen on mortification. And it's not pleasure reading. It's about sin, and it's about putting sin to death. And there are two things, two principal things that Paul is saying in verses 12 and 13. He's talking first of all about the mindset and secondly about the method, the mindset of mortification and the method of mortification.

Let's think about the mindset of mortification. And there are three things, I think, that we need to bear in mind. First of all, that we need to deal with indwelling sin. There is sin to be dealt with, ongoing remaining sin in our lives. Even though we are Christians, and we are justified, and we are in union with Christ, and we're indwelt by the Holy Spirit, sin still dwells in this mortal body.

And Paul has been talking about it in the previous chapter. And I believe Paul is speaking about his experience as a believer, that we wrestle every day with indwelling sin. So, we need to deal with sin. There is sin to be dealt with. Robert Murray M'Cheyne, the 19th century Scottish Presbyterian pastor, died just a few days before his 30th birthday, once wrote that the seeds of every known sin lies within our hearts.

We may not be as sinful as we possibly could be, and we have particular sins and what the Bible calls elsewhere besetting sins, but the seeds of every known sin lies within our hearts. We need to deal with indwelling sin. Secondly, as we think about the mindset here of mortification, there ought to be in us a desire to deal with indwelling sin. We want to deal with indwelling sin. We want to grow. We want to flourish as Christians. We want to grow in holiness. We want to be more holy today than we were yesterday, this year than we were last year, this decade than we were a decade ago.

We want that progression to be upwards rather than downwards or stagnant. We want to grow, and we want to display the fruits of the Spirit. So, we need to deal with sin. We want to deal with sin. And let me pause just for a second and ask, is that perhaps the problem, that we don't really want to grow in holiness, that we're content with the progress in sanctification that we've already made? And maybe the reason why we have a besetting sin is because we don't really have that desire, that insatiable desire to deal with it. We need to deal with it. We want to deal with it.

And thirdly, that we are able to deal with it. And that's what Paul was saying in Romans 6, because we are in union with Christ, because we have died to sin, and we live to righteousness, because we have died with Christ, and we've been buried with Christ, and we've been raised again to newness of life in Christ. So, we're in a position now to deal with sin, because sin is no longer our master. Sin is still present, and sometimes we behave as though sin is our master, and we forget who we are, and we forget our identity. But sin is no longer our master. When we were in Adam, sin said, do this, and we said, of course.

But now we don't have to say, of course. Now, we may still do that sin, but we do so in denial of who we really are. And the story is told of Martin Luther. It may be apocryphal, but Satan knocks on the door of his study, and Satan says, is Martin Luther there? And Satan is insistent, knocking on the door, is Martin Luther there? And Luther actually believed that he heard Satan speak on occasions. And Luther said, no, Martin Luther doesn't live here anymore. A man in Christ lives here now.

And it was a reminder of his identity. We need to deal with sin. We want to deal with sin. We are able in Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit to deal with sin. The method, secondly, how do we put to death the deeds of the body?

And look at the verse in 13. 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. Put to death, mortify. So, let me suggest a number of answers to this question.

What is the method of mortification? And let me suggest, first of all, that you say, no, to sin. The power of negative thinking, not the power of positive thinking, but the power of negative thinking, of saying no to sin. Titus 2 11 and 12, for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions. Grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness, to say no to sin.

That's where we begin, I think. There's sin in our lives. It may be anger. It may be a tendency to be frustrated. It may be a tendency to disbelief.

It may be a tendency to laziness. It may be a thousand things, and we recognize it, and it's sin. It's wrong, and it begins by saying no. Say no to sin. And secondly, don't be content with partial holiness. Sometimes, I think, as Christians, we are content if we get a little victory here and a little victory there. And we know there are vast areas of our lives where godliness does not seem to manifest itself in any credible form, and we're content. We're content with a partial holiness. And I think Paul is saying here, don't be content with partial holiness.

You want it all. You want to be as holy as a saved sinner can be. Set your mind on the things of the Spirit. Set your mind on the things that the Spirit sets His mind on. And what does the Spirit set His mind on?

Godliness, holiness, Jesus' likeness, the fruits of the Spirit. What did Jesus say? If your eye offends you, pluck it out.

Pluck it out. If your right arm offends you, cut it off. Rather to go through life maimed than to go through life whole and end up in hell. Those are Jesus' words. Jesus is speaking about mortification, about self-denial, about saying no to sin, about cutting sin off at His root. John Owen famously said, kill sin, or it will kill you.

Paul is asking a question here in this section of Romans 8, as he has been in the previous verses. What's the evidence that you're a Christian? What is the evidence that you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

What is the evidence that you are in Christ? And that evidence must show itself. It must manifest itself in some way. And one of the ways it manifests itself is negatively.

Now, there's a positive. There is what the Reformers called and the Puritans called vivification, bringing to life the fruits of the Spirit. But there's also the negative mortification. Actually, there isn't any difference here in Reformed thought and Puritan thought than medieval thought. Medieval thought, too, saw progressive sanctification in terms of mortification and vivification, a negative and a positive.

And here we're emphasizing the negative aspect. If we were in Galatians 5, we would be emphasizing the negative and the positive, and Paul fleshes that out for us in Galatians 5. But here, the emphasis is on killing sin. Kill sin, or it will kill you. Thirdly, say no to sin. Don't be content with partial holiness. Thirdly, kill sin at its source. Kill sin at its source. Where does sin begin?

You've noticed the segue from verses 8, 9, 10, and 11 to these verses that we're looking at, 12 and 13. And Paul, in the previous section, had been talking about a mindset, minding the things of the Spirit. He had been talking about the importance of a Christian mind. And where does godliness actually begin? Where does holy thought begin in the mind? Where does sin begin in the mind? You remember in the first chapter of James, James gives us a kind of morphology of temptation.

And before that temptation manifests itself in an outward act, it begins with a thought. Sometimes we're not sure where these thoughts come from. Do they arise from us? Do they arise instinctively?

Is it just chemistry? Or is it something that's implanted? Is it a thought that's implanted by the devil, for example?

And I think all of those answers are possible. But at some point, we are conscious of a thought, and that thought has to work itself out to an action. So, kill sin at its source. We have to engage in the mortification of certain thoughts and thought patterns and habits of response to certain thoughts. Fourthly, be accountable to each other. The verb here is actually in the plural.

It's not in the singular. Mortify as a collective, not just individually, because you belong to each other. You are brothers and sisters. You are part of the family of God.

You have a relationship to one another. And I think Paul is thinking of the way sin is never really a personal thing. Our sins always affect others.

They affect those who are nearest to us, those whom we love the most. So, kill sin in the context of accountability. We are accountable to one another. It's why I firmly believe that those who are caught in the grip of a particular sin, a particular habit of sin, need to have some means of accountability—a friend, a mentor, an elder, someone whom they trust and they can speak to and give an account to, and someone to hold them accountable. Godliness is never just a personal thing.

I live in my small corner, and you in yours. We are part of the body of Christ. And when one member hurts, the whole body hurts along with it. And when one member sins, the whole body grieves along with it. And our collective witness to the world is marred as a consequence. So, be accountable to others. And then, fifthly, and say no to sin. Don't be content with partial holiness. Kill sin at its source. Be accountable to others. And fifthly, don't fall into legalism.

This is a command. This is an imperative. Be killing sin. Be about the business of killing sin.

It's what is expected of us. It's what the Spirit wants us to do. There's really no place for the presence of the Spirit of Christ and sin in our lives. And maybe there are compartments, compartments that we keep to ourselves, and they're secret places. And maybe we think that when the sun goes down, and the doors are shut, and the lights go off, and the curtains are drawn, that it's just me.

But it's never just me, is it? It's always me and the Spirit who indwells me. It's always me in union and communion with Christ. In 1 Corinthians chapter 6, Paul deals with something quite astonishing in the church at Corinth. And evidently, there were those in the church at Corinth who were visiting brothels. And Paul has to address this issue.

And he's very explicit. You can't leave Jesus outside the door. When you sin in this way, you make Jesus sin.

You take Jesus with you. That's Paul's argument in 1 Corinthians chapter 6. And similarly, here in Romans 8 and 12 and 13, this is something that we have to do. But we don't do it in order to be saved.

We don't do it in order to be justified. We don't do this because otherwise we think God doesn't love us, and He's angry with us. He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me.

He loves me not. And we can so easily slip back into an attitude and a mentality of legalism. No, Paul is saying, Paul is saying, I am persuaded of better things of you. You are in Christ. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Your lives have changed.

You are not what you once were. You love the things of the Spirit now. You find that when your mind goes into neutral, it gravitates, maybe not every time, but the predominant gravitation of our minds is to Jesus and the gospel. We find ourselves instinctively talking to the Lord and bringing to Him our grievances and our troubles and our hurts, and we cry to Him like children cry to their parents. Even when we're angry and frustrated, it is to the Lord that we go.

And all of these things are evidences that we are the Lord's people and that we truly have been born again. No, we put sin to death because it's the right thing to do. We put sin to death because sin has no right to be in the presence of those of those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Can you identify your besetting sin? Paul is thinking here, I think, not just of having a general thought about sin, but having very specific thoughts about it. Put this sin and that sin to death. It's easy to say, I'm against sin. What about the specific sins? Can you name them? Can you write them down? The five things that trouble you, and they seem always to be troubling you, and what pattern have you set in motion to put that sin to death?

Some sins will take a lifetime, and some sins you might think you've put them to death and they grow back again. I had a tree once in my backyard. I'm not very good at DIY, so I don't have any tools.

And I'm also a Celt, so I wasn't prepared to pay somebody to do this. And it wasn't a big tree with the right saw, which I borrowed. I managed to cut down this tree, and it took me several weeks starting at the top and working down. And don't think 200 feet, think maybe nine or ten feet, but it was in the wrong place, and it was going to grow and upset a wall because of where the roots were, so I had to demolish it. And I eventually got to the stump, and then what?

Well, I just covered it with earth, and nobody could see it, and I thought it was all gone. And then in the spring, shoots are coming up, and I cut those, and more shoots are coming up because it was actually still alive, and some of our sins are like that. We've cut them down so that they're not public anymore, but they're still alive. And maybe we will wrestle with those until God calls us home. But the question with which we end this lesson today is, am I dealing with my specific sins, and not just dealing with them, but do I have a mindset to put those specific sins to death because that's what they deserve? A challenging message today from Derek Thomas, but I really appreciate his reminder there. Are we putting those specific sins to death? Why?

Because that's what they deserve. Today's message was from Dr Thomas's study in Romans 8. He has a 12-part series, and he has a companion book titled How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home. Both can be yours, and we'll send them to you when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org, or when you call us at 800 435 4343.

I know I would listen to this series while out on a run, whereas my wife would likely sit down with the book. So request both, and maybe share the other one with someone you know. Give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org, because this offer ends tomorrow. If Romans 8 is the best chapter in the Bible, tomorrow we'll consider one of the most well-known sections of Romans 8, referred to as the Golden Chain. Join us then here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 13:54:44 / 2024-02-21 14:02:53 / 8

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