Anyone who has struggled to be good and holy knows how difficult the struggle can be. It is easier to conquer a fortified city than to conquer one’s own rebellious soul. As difficult as reformation is, the Word of God commands Christians to put to death the flesh. There is to be modification of sin.
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13).
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Col. 3:5, 6).
To encourage the heart of the Christian to engage in the process of self-mortification, there is the promise of ultimate victory. Three times in the Revelation, the idea of overcoming is mentioned (Rev. 11:7; 13:7; 17:14). Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). With victory in mind, the Christian can use the spiritual weapons, promises, and techniques made available to honor the known will of the Lord.
Make no Provision to Sin. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14).
Scriptural Memorization. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).
Seek Spiritual Counsel. “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).
Be watchful. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Resistance. “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 4:9).
Spiritual Weapons of Warfare
Fear. “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Prov. 16:6). Learn to Fear God.
Knowledge of the Enemy. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11).
The Whole Armor of God. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:11-18).
Memory. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Rev. 2:5).
Promises of God
Confession of Sin Brings Cleansing. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Self-Judgment Mitigates Divine Judgment. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31).
Glorification Awaits every Believer. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:28 – 32).
Jesus will not leave His People. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
Because the struggle with self is so difficult, because cross work is so painful, because the flesh does not die easily, the temptation comes to abandon the effort, and become angry at anyone and everyone who calls for gospel repentance and spiritual renewal.
It is easier to lash out at others, find fault, and accept self and sinful behavior than to look into the mirror of God’s Word and want to be different.
Rather than listen to Jesus and change, the Pharisees sought to kill Him. Why? Because Jesus told people the truth, and truth hurts.
Telling people the truth will make them angry. Telling people the truth will cause individuals to hate and want to hurt. When Jesus told the people of His day the truth, they crucified Him.
Nevertheless, the message must go forth if there is to be peace and good will on earth. Christ redeems sinful men, even me with all my sin. Come to Christ. He will receive you, and change you.
Sinners Jesus will receive:
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heav’nly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.
Sing it o’e rand o’er again:
Christ receiveth sinful men.
Make the message clear and plain:
Christ receiveth sinful men.
Come, and He will give you rest;
Trust Him, for His word is plain;
He will take the sinfulest;
Christ receiveth sinful men.
Now my heart condemns me not,
Pure before the law I stand;
He who cleansed me from all spot
Satisfied its last demand.
Christ receiveth sinful men,
Even me with all my sin;
Purged from ev’ry spot and stain,
Heav’n with Him I enter in.
Text: Erdmann Neumeister (1671 – 1756)
Tr. Emma F. Bevan (1827 – 1909).