Your session will end in  seconds due to inactivity. Click here to continue using this web page.
The Study Bible - A Bible that gives you instant access to all of John’s teaching on the passage you’re reading.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012 | Comments (7)

by John MacArthur

It’s not enough to merely receive the warnings of your conscience. You’ve got to act on those warnings and deal decisively and thoroughly with the sin your conscience uncovers.

As Paul said in Romans 8:13, believers must always be “putting to death the deeds of the body.” The King James translation uses more picturesque language, exhorting us to “mortify” our sin. But what does it mean to truly kill your sin?

Mortifying your sin involves the cultivation of new habits of godliness, combined with the elimination of old sinful habits from your behavior. It is a constant warfare that takes place within the believer. Although we should expect our triumph over sin to be ever increasing, our mortification can never be wholly complete before we are glorified. We are to remain perpetually committed to the task. We must see sin as a sworn enemy, and commit ourselves to slaying it wherever and whenever it rears its head.

Scripture offers several practical means whereby believers can mortify their sin. Our growth in grace depends on our obedience to these duties. None of them are fleshly or mechanical formulas. They are not religious activities or rituals.

But sin cannot be annihilated through legalism, monasticism, pietism, asceticism, pharisaism, celibacy, self‑flagellation, confessional booths, rosary beads, Hail Marys, or any other external means. The instrument of mortification is the Holy Spirit, and His power is the energy that works in us to carry out the process. All the means of mortification are simple commands of Scripture that we are to obey. I want to highlight some of the key ones.

Abstain from fleshly lusts. Peter wrote, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). In other words, stop lusting. Abstain from it. Stay away from it. “Flee immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). What could be more direct?

Do you want to put to death the lusts in your heart? Then stop entertaining them. Peter does not prescribe a program of therapy. He does not suggest that it be treated as an addiction. He simply says abstain. Quit doing it. There is no point waiting for some heavenly power to erase this sin automatically from your life. You are to stop it, and stop it immediately.

Here is perhaps the most straightforward, obvious means of mortifying our sin: stop doing it. Too many people think they must wait for an extraordinary experience, a miracle from heaven, a sign from the Lord, or whatever. They think divine intervention is necessary to free them from a sinful practice or pattern of thinking. No, that is precisely the error Romans 6 refutes. You are free from sin; now stop doing it. “Abstain.” Reckon yourself dead to sin and don’t do it anymore. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It really is as simple as that.

Make no provision for the flesh. In Romans 13:14 Paul writes, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” In other words, simply refuse to accommodate fleshly lusts. If you struggle with gluttony, don’t load up on junk food when you shop at the market. If you are tempted with sexual desire, don’t fill your mind with images that feed your lust. If you don’t want to fall, don’t walk where it is slippery. Refuse to furnish your mind with the means to entertain evil thoughts. Make no preparations for the possibility of sin. Thus you can slay sin before it breeds.

Fix your heart on Christ. The apostle John wrote, “We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

As we fix our hearts on Christ, we discover our worship has the effect of conforming us to His image: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Meditate on God’s Word. The psalmist wrote, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). The Lord told Joshua, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8). Do you want to have success in the battle against sin? Familiarize yourself with the Word of God. Meditate on it “day and night” (cf. Psalm 1:2). Let it be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Psalm 119:105). As the truth begins to penetrate our hearts and minds, it will confront and attack our sin.

Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The truth of God’s Word is the medium the Holy Spirit uses in our sanctification. Load your mind with it. Fill your heart with it. Ponder it carefully and let it direct your walk. “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16). You will discover that “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17), is the most effective weapon for hacking the flesh to pieces.

We’ll pause and pick it up there tomorrow.

(Adapted from The Vanishing Conscience.)


You have 3000 characters remaining for your comment. Note: All comments must be approved before being posted.


#1  Posted by Patrick Dunbar  |  Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 7:59 AM

God’s Righteousness Revealed in Sanctification - Romans 6:1-23. Most appropriete a blog since last month I started teaching at Acton Rehabilitation Center in Acton CA on this very topic. It is a question that comes up often in Prison Ministry. How is it that I was saved some time ago but here I am again in jail? They need to know that if our profession of faith does not match our practice of faith then our profession is false. Too many have been mislead by someone based simply on that person saying I believe in Jesus. There needs to be a fleshing out of that belief.

We must move from Justification of that individual to a life of Sanctification, or more directly Mortification of sin in our lives. Oh, that marvelous word from the Puritans, a word that is not found in most churches today. How we need today to learn from those who have gone on before us. Just how true the quote from C. H. Spurgeon is "That if we do not use the minds of others then we will not use our own minds".

If only Pastors and Preachers and Biblical Teachers today would learn to glean from the pages of those great divines of old those marvelous Doctrines of Grace!

If only they would spend the time focusing on the majors of pure religion instead of playing with the minors!

If only they would fill their bookshelves with authors like John Owen, John Knox, John Calvin, Jeremiah Burroughs, Thomas Watson, Charles H. Spurgeon and so many more.

I am so thankful to God that first He saved me, even from the darknes of a prison cell. I am thankful that the Lord Jesus put me into service in Prison Ministry over 30 years ago. Man gave me a 5 year sentence, but God gave me a life sentence.

I am thankful that God lead me to Grace Community Church under the leadership of Pastor John MacArthur back in 1980, it seems like just yesterday. I am looking forward to the next 30 plus years to be able to serve the Lord from GCC should I live into my 90's. And I'm very thankful for GTY under the leadership of Phil Johnson who has by his many sacrifices blessed so many people.

#2  Posted by Radziwill Delfie Lazier  |  Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Hi GTY, i am a Filipina single mom and a friend of mine introduced me to John's teachings. I thank the Lord for that as I am immensely blessed by it and i even share it with my daughter. It is so sad that it seemed this country (the Philippines) have a lot of false teachers (local and foreign alike) and the church have unconsciously embraced them all. It is extremely difficult to find a church that teaches the Truth of the Word of God. I am not a bible teacher or a theologian or a pastor, i can not dissect the Bible verses into words so as to fully understand them. Sadly, i may be taking in false teachings without me realizing it. Even more sad is that i may be taking in false doctrines for years for all i know. I don't know where to go and what to believe. It scares me to think how many christians in this country are in the same predicament as i am. But, thanks be to God, i came to know a friend, who, like what i've said, introduced me to John's teachings. It is still difficult not having anyone whom i can ask questions to if there are items in the sermon i don't understand, so i just hang on to what the Bible said in James 1:5 " If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" I have been in the "dark" for years and now that the Lord brought me to the light, I am so hungry for His word that has the power to change my life, and renew me each and everyday.

I pray that the Lord raise men in this country who will stand in the truth and teach people the same. There's going to be massive work that needs to be done for the Filipino Christian church to "unlearn" and "unteach" what has been taught and learned for decades, but i truly believe that it can be done by the power of God.

I pray that the Lord richly bless Grace Church and Pastor John MacArthur as God continue to use your ministry to awaken the christians who have long been deceived and enslaved by false beliefs and doctrines which only resulted to carnal lives, which, sadly, is believed to be christian life.

To God be the glory

#3  Posted by Roman Fedin  |  Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:36 PM

living in the flesh and living in christ is always a battle for the mind, at least in my life either the flesh wants to dominate of the spirit of christ, im finally starting to learn the importance of having the word of god open my mind to his spirit and close the door to the flesh, i can say that it is the hardest thing to do and at the same time i see that there is no other way of winning this war on sin within.

#4  Posted by Seth Elder  |  Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 6:11 PM

I love how John flat out says stop, and how it really is that simple. Christ has freed us from sin, and we can choose to glorify God now, so we should. The series of blogs you have been writing lately have been very encouraging and uplifting to me, and I am greatly appreciative for them and for the Lord using you. God bless you! A brother in Christ, Seth.

#6  Posted by Toni Fay Carrillo  |  Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 2:44 AM

Hi this is in response to Radziwill Delfie Lazier's comment on this blog.She said she dont know any qualified church in the Philippines.There are a lot of churches that will help u grow spiritually.Please check Reformed Baptist churches in the Philippines and choose which place you are near.Try to contact any person there by email or by phone to have some information.

GTY I'm really thankful to find this site.May God continue to use you in His glory.

God Bless you all!

#7  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin)  |  Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Dear Radziwill,

I'm so glad to hear of your love for God’s Word, and I join you in praising the Lord for how He has helped you find and discern trustworthy teaching. Below is a link to the church locator page on the website of The Master’s Seminary, where John MacArthur serves as president. There are three graduates of the seminary serving in the Philippines. Let me encourage you to contact them as a resource to find a strong, Bible-teaching church in your area.

#8  Posted by Radziwill Delfie Lazier  |  Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Hi Toni,

Thank you so much for the response to my comment. On top of my head, i am absolutely sure that there's no Reformed Baptist Church close to where i live. I will not stop, however, until i find one. God bless you more and more!

Hi Jeremiah,

Thank you so much for the link that you gave. I checked it out and the one closest to me is in Manila, which is like 3 hours away from where i live. N0netheless, i will contact them and ask for information. I can never be thankful enough for you help. May the Lord bless you richly!