“Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24
True mortification has its foundation in the life of God in the soul. A spiritual, yes, a most spiritual work, it can only spring from a most spiritual principle. It is not a plant indigenous to our fallen nature. It cannot be in the principle of sin to mortify itself.
Human nature possesses neither the inclination nor the power by which so holy an achievement can be accomplished. A dead faith, a blind zeal, a superstitious devotion, may prompt severe austerities; but to lay the axe close to the root of indwelling evil, to marshal the forces against the principle of sin in the heart- thus besieging and carrying the very citadel itself- to keep the body under, and bring it into subjection, by a daily and a deadly conflict with its innate and desperately depraved propensities, is a work transcending the utmost reach of the most severe external austerities.
It consists, too, in an annulling of the covenant with sin: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness”- enter into no truce, make no agreement, form no union; “but rather reprove them.” “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?” The resources of sin must be cut off: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Whatever tends to, and terminates in, the sinful gratification of the flesh is to be relinquished, as frustrating the great aim of the Christian in the mortification of the deeds of the body.
Mortification is aptly set forth as a crucifixion: “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.” Death by the cross is certain, yet lingering. Our blessed Lord was suspended upon the tree from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. It was a slow lingering torture, yet terminating in His giving up the spirit.
Similar to this is the death of sin in the believer. It is progressive and protracted, yet certain in the issue. Nail after nail must pierce our corruptions, until the entire body of sin, each member thus transfixed, is crucified and slain.