And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
If you need to do rehab for an injury, and you go to a physical therapist, in no time he or she will have you doing all kinds of exercises. And leading up to your last visit, your therapist will be telling you, “Now after you’re done seeing me, you have to keep doing these.”
It won’t do you any good to say, “Now, which exercises do I need to keep doing?”
A good physical therapist will quickly say, “All of them.” Because your whole body is connected. You cannot strengthen your back in isolation. You need to continue strengthening your glutes, your legs, and your core.
In the same way, as important as it is to target particular sins for mortification, you will only succeed as you pursue a life of full devotion and obedience to Jesus Christ. You cannot mortify sin in isolation. You can’t overcome lust while you are indulging in laziness or overcome greed while you are indulging in pride. Half-hearted Christians are never successful in mortifying sin.
If you are only concerned about one sin, you won’t make much progress. John Owen has a fascinating comment on the person who is only focused on one sin: “God says, ‘If he could be rid of this lust, I should never hear of him more; let him wrestle with this or he is lost.’”
If the sin that bothers you is the only thing that is bringing you to God, and God relieves that battle, you may never come to Him again, and then you would be completely lost.
Mortification of sin will be successful
- when you target particular sins,
- as you cultivate the opposite virtue, and
- as you pursue a life of devotion and obedience to Jesus Christ.
Which of the three components of successful mortification is weakest for you right now? What step forward could you take today?