By the Spirit
I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. – John 16:12-14
There is a massive difference between improving our lives morally rather than total surrender to the cause of Christ.
Have you ever singled out a sin in your life and thought, perhaps subconsciously, that you were the exception? Scripture tells you to be anxious about nothing, yet, you lie awake at night being just that – anxious and worried. Perhaps you are angry at one of your children, or your spouse, knowing all the while that Scripture tells you not to be. But, perhaps in your current particular situation, you may be excused because it is justified, at least in your mind?
God tells us in Romans 8:13, 14 that:
for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Did you see that? “If by the Spirit…” What does that mean?
Submission to the Lordship of Christ involves having the right motive in mortifying sins in our lives. Many fail when attempting to rid themselves of sin because they are often focused on self rather than the glory of Christ. In fact, is it not true that often Christians will seek to rid themselves of one, maybe a few sins, so they will be rid of personal misery or pain? It may be that professing Christians are not really interested in turning away, repenting that is, of all sin, but maybe just one or two of those that may cause us harm or bring personal misery or familial discomfort.
If we just want to feel better about ourselves or avoid misery, then we are thinking like unbelievers and living according to the flesh, not the Spirit.
Putting away sin “by the Spirit” has everything to do with your motivation as is taught in John 16 quoted above. Avoiding misery and personal discomfort by ridding yourself of some personal sin is not mortifying sin by the Spirit. It is becoming more morally acceptable perhaps, but it is not mortification of the sin by the Spirit.
We must continually get a sense of the danger of sin, as God our Father sees it. We must never compare ourselves to others, but to that which God requires – holiness. We do not have the power nor authority to set the limit of damage of sin in our lives. We must see our sins, whatever it is, in light of God’s law – with no exceptional circumstances – and repent and leave them altogether.
When confronting sin in our lives, the motivation must be the glorification of God, not the escape of personal misery or the greater acceptance among men.