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In Col. 2: 23 we have the "neglecting of the body" "to the satisfying of the flesh."
This comprises all the "will-worship and humility" of Rome, with its fastings, penances,
and other inventions for the manufacture of a creature holiness, right down to the
Holiness Conventions that would gain holiness by rules and resolutions. In direct
contrast to the "neglecting of the body" in the wrong sense, we have in Col. 3: 5 the
"moritfying of the members" in the scriptural sense as being a direct result of being
raised with Christ and being occupied with Him. Our life is there; our death here. The
word translated "mortify" occurs only in two other passages in the New Testament:--
"And without being weakened in faith, he considered his own body now as good as
dead" (Rom. 4: 19, R.V.).
"Wherefore also there sprang from one, and him as good as dead, so many as the
stars" (Heb. 9: 12).
This is the lesson in Col. 3: Just as Abraham, we also are to see by faith that our
sinful selves are as good as dead. To believe God's verdict that we died with Christ from
the law of God as a means of justification, from all works of the flesh as a means of
sanctification, and from all the rudiments, commandments, and doctrines of men.
Instead of the word "mortify" countenancing Romish teaching, it teaches just the
opposite. As we feed the new nature we starve the old. As by faith we walk in the power
of the "new man," which has created in true holiness, we shall "put off the old man with
his deeds." Apart from the risen Saviour all sanctification is of the flesh, and is "put on"
in a far different sense than that meant by the Scripture.
Some may have observed in a sheltered spot a tree covered with dead leaves, having
gone through the winter without actually dropping them to the ground, but when the
returning spring forces the new life through the branches, the old leaves must go, being
removed by the power of the life within; so to live in the light of Col. 3: 1-4 will of itself
bring about the "mortifying" of verse 5. A glance at verses 5-17 of this chapter will show
that the believer is called upon to "walk worthily," but verses 1-4 come first, and as the
other side of the question is that which appears most prominent in the sermons and
literature of to-day, we seek to give prominence to the foundation of all holiness, trusting
that then we may build something more acceptable to God. In the Pentateuch we read of
"strange incense" and "strange fire." Every time the believer forgets the import of the
words "accepted in the Beloved," every time he is prompted to lean on something apart
from Christ, he is preparing "strange incense" which cannot please God.
Sanctification includes consecration, for resurrection life is pre-eminently a life unto
God. How many times have we reviewed our past and mourned that we have not lived
unto God? How many times have we resolved to keep down the flesh and "yield
ourselves" to God? How many times have we failed? If one may speak for many, we
know what a miserable failure it has always been. Let us, therefore, see whether
Scripture does not give some surer way of living unto God than we have hitherto
Of Christ it is written, "For in that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He
liveth (i.e. in resurrection), He liveth unto God" (Rom. 6: 10). Of the believer, it