20 June 2016

THE MORTIFICATION OF SIN


Gal 5:24-35; 6:1-6

John Owen wrote an amazing book called “The Mortification of Sin” which is where I took my title from for this message. It’s a wonderful book that talks about the dangers of sin and how we are to avoid such acts of the flesh. He got the title for his book by preaching a number of messages on Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death (mortify) the deeds of the body, you will live.” Why? Sin is a deadly and it kills and John Owen said in his book “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” As we’ve seen over the past few weeks that the flesh is at war with the Spirit that indwells in us. (v17). We need to be alert to the dangers of sin. Why? Sin is deceitful “but exhort one another daily, while it is called "TODAY," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb 3:13. Sin is dehumanizing……sin dismantles relationships and corrupts the human soul. The less we bear the image of God due to the presence of sin, the less human we really are. Sin is damning…..the greatest threat to the soul is sin. Sin threatens the eternal soul of the unsaved. Sin leads to death and judgement and eternal punishment in Hell.

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.'” And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' Mark 9:42-48
Hell is a final destination and it involves both pain and eternal punishment. That’s how severe sin is in the life of a person. But we sometimes we tend to treat it like it’s no big deal……. because I’m under the blanket of Grace. But we need to be careful with that kind of thinking! It’s contradictory and deceiving according to God’s word. For example: A man named Cory Byrne, 34 years old, died in 2010, at a local hospital after being strangled by his 9-foot, 25-pound pet boa constrictor. Byrne had been showing the snake to a friend as he had the snake draped on his shoulders. An officer was called to Byrne's apartment around 5:40 p.m. The officer found Byrne on the ground with the snake still around his neck. Paramedics soon arrived and helped get the snake off Byrne and into a cage. The Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha has taken custody of the male red-tailed boa constrictor. Spokesman Mark Langan said “The snake appears to have been well-fed, added he did not know what might have led the snake to strangle its owner. “The sad reality is, whether it’s a dog or a cat or snake, no matter how much you trust an animal, they react unpredictably in certain situations," Langan said. "Once a snake clamps down like that, they're extremely strong. It would have been very difficult for one person to remove that snake."

See, some animals cannot be tamed. You might call a snake your pet and give it a cute name, but it doesn’t take the wild out of it. It much the same with sin. You may cuddle sin like a pet, but it doesn’t take the wild out if it or make it less dangerous. Sin and evil cannot be domesticated, sin poises to attack your faith at all cost. “the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” Gal 5:17

This is where we need to take sin seriously! Not only privately in the closet of our own hearts, but corporately as well, we fight this battle together. We are God’s children who He purchased with His Son’s blood and death on the cross. And if we are His children we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (v24-v26). Why? Sin is a deadly killer and it will not stop until it has consumed whatever it attaches itself to. And our responsibility is to one another….keeping each other accountable for how we live our Christian lives and to be aware of the sin that lurks around the corner when we least expect it. Why do I say that? Look how Paul starts chapter 6 for us. “Brothers” fellow Christians, God’s elect, God’s adopted children, please listen to what I’m about to saying to you! “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.”
Gal 6:1-6. 
Paul gives us 3 things we are to do to help those fallen in sin. Three things that “those who are spiritual” are to do to help the fallen brother or sister in Christ. “those who are spiritual” are those who are walking in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit and are demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit. They are seasoned and spiritually strong (not perfect and exempt from sin) but demonstrate a virtuous lifestyle towards the Lord. God has places this responsibility on us, the ones who are stronger to come alongside the weaker brother or sister and help them. So the first thing Paul tells us to do “those who are spiritual” is……

Pick Him Up (v1) 

When a person stumbles, his first greatest need to is to get up, and often they need assistance to do that. By doing this you’re helping that brother or sister get back on their feet spiritually and morally. “Even if a man is caught in any trespass” they deserve help…you deserve help! “caught in any trespass” is the idea that they are guilty without a shadow of doubt. And as the KJV renders this passage “overtaken in a fault” helps us to understand that this is not premeditated, but rather he or she fails to guard or perhaps flirt with temptation thinking they can withstand whatever is before them. It’s that idea seeing how close you can get to the edge before falling off. There’s a story about a group of coach drivers applying for a job. One of them would be chosen to carry the king’s children up and down a narrow, winding road leading up to the king’s mountain-top castle. With dozens of steep drop-offs and no guardrails, it was a daunting assignment. The king’s chief liveryman asked each candidate this question: HOW CLOSE CAN YOU GET TO THE EDGE WITHOUT GOING OVER? The applicants offered various responses indicating their confidence in skill! One man boasted he could drive the horses at nearly full speed for the entire length of the road, always keeping within 6 inches from the edge. The interviewer was unimpressed. Finally, one driver stepped forward and responded, “Sir, if it’s the king’s children, I want to stay as far from the edge as I possibly can.” This man was hired for the job....

This should be our answer when we are faced with a decision that will affect our walk with a holy a merciful God! Shouldn’t it? This would be what “those who are spiritual” would do and that is why we are to help those who have fallen or become careless in their spiritual walk. Because! When a person is fallen or caught in sin…..they have a tendency to lose confidence, their inner joy, peace and all the other fruits of the Spirit. They tend to doubt the grace that has already been given to them and doubt the truth of God’s promises and His word. Sin in the life of a believer tends to weaken their anticipation of Christ’s return. Their sin has caused them to shrink back and be less anxious to see Jesus. As John wrote “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” 1 John 2:28. We who are more spiritual are to come alongside them and help by not say “I told you so” and then proceed to walk away. We are to be sensitive towards someone’s sin and deal with it with gentleness as whenever and wherever it may appear in the body of Christ. (v1) Prime example for us to follow! “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. “And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:3-12. A spiritual brother seeks to restore a sinning brother, by first helping up out of the mud of his sin with Christ-like gentleness. 

Hold Him Up (v2-v5)

Once you’ve helped by picking up a brother in sins and trespasses we are to help hold them up. It’s not enough to simply help them turn from sin and leave them alone. Usually a person like this who has victory over that sin for season …Satan usually turns around and attacks harder and faster. Paul said “we are to bear one another’s burdens” “Bear and burden” are the key words…. ”Bear” refers to endure or endurance as in a race to the finish line. “Burdens” is the load one carries and sometimes those loads are more than we handle. We think we can handle them, but in reality we can’t. A persistent and opposing temptation is one of the heaviest burdens a Christian can have. This is where “those who are spiritual” come into play. We endure with them as they fight the battle of the flesh. As James said “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16. Peter said “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 
1 Peter 5:6-8

We are to stand with our fallen brother and hold him up as we fight this battle together. When we do this we are “fulfilling the law of Christ” (v2). What is that Law? Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35. Even Paul elaborated on this in his letter “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Gal 5:14. The question for you and me is…. Wouldn’t you want someone come alongside you as you battle a certain sin that tears at your soul and your relationship with Christ? Don’t you desire restoration as opposed to separation? If not, maybe you need ask yourself! Do you love your sin more than Christ? Does your sin bother you at all? There is one thing to fall into sin, but another to premeditate it and love it. It’s the idea I know it’s wrong but He’ll forgive me later. That is a very dangerous place to live and assume everything is ok. Why? Hell is knocking at your door and he wants to take up residence in your heart.

Build Him Up (v6)

Not only are you pick him up, hold him up, but we are to build him up through sharing and the precious word of God. “share” has the idea of sharing equally. This is commonly translated “fellowship” it’s a mutual arrangement…not one person serving or providing, but both parties sharing together. Keeping one another accountable in the fellowship of the family of God. What are we to share? “All good things” this primarily means spiritual and moral excellence. A way to do that is founded in Phil 4:8-9 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

It is our goal and desires to see those around us strive for holiness and godliness under the Spirits leading and directing. Kevin DeYoung said “The biggest threat to the church in any generation is not the government, not some other religion, nor enemies of the faith. It's us with our own waywardness, our own wandering, our own hard heartedness, and our own love affair with sin.” Sin is a lot like leprosy…..because Leprosy affects the nervous system. It gradually numbs the person’s extremities to the point at which pain is no longer felt. One would think “having no more pain would be good.” Rightfully so, if you were getting a tooth drilled and filled or if you were having surgery on your broken leg.  You wouldn’t want to feel the pain. This is where you would want the gas or a shot of Novocain. But what if that feeling never came back ever again? It would be very difficult to chew your food without realizing you are doing possible damage to your mouth or tongue. Or you had no more feeling in your leg after surgery you wouldn’t know if it’s healed properly.

See, pain serves a purpose! Pain tells a child not to touch a hot stove. Pain tells a carpenter to aim skillfully with a hammer. Pain warns and guides. And that’s the problem with Leprosy. You loss all feelings to pain. And sin does the same thing to the Christian who is “caught or entangled” in sins and trespasses. Having a spiritual numbness is more horrible than leprosy and I’m not minimizing how terrible that is. We who are “spiritual” need to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, who can become defeated and somewhat numb to the causes of sin. We need each other otherwise we can become numb to our own sin. NUMB! Like Raynold the 3rd, a fourteenth-century duke. Who was grossly overweight was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means “fat. “After a violent quarrel, Raynold’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured his older brother, but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around him in the castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynold’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, he grew fatter. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” He stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year … a prisoner of his own appetite.

Did he really help his brother?
Did he help by picking him up?
Did he help by holding him up?
Did he help by building him up?

The answer is NO! We are to pick up, hold up, and build up before it gets too late. Remove the blinders and be Christ to one another and fulfill the Law of Christ……by being His hands and feet to the family of God.

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