Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature. Colossians 3:5 (NIV)
Christians are called to a relentless warfare against sin. We are to put sin to death. The word that Christians have used to describe this over the centuries is mortification. It comes from the same word from which we get our English word mortal—subject to death, and mortuary—a place where the dead are taken.
To mortify means to put to death. This word gets to the heart of the conflict every Christian has with sin. It occurs twice in the New Testament—once in Colossians 3, and a second time in Romans 8: “If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (8:13).
The impulse to sin keeps landing in new ways in your life, and it has to be dealt with. Every day, something will happen that could provoke pride, or envy, or self-pity in you. Every day, another situation will arise that might lead you into impatience, ingratitude, or sins of the tongue.
You have to continually mortify temptations to sin. So, putting sin to death is not a one-time deal. We are always in this business of mortifying the flesh. As mentioned earlier, John Owen says in his book The Mortification of Sin, “Always be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Your life is like a battlefield, with an enemy who is always contending against you.
Have you not found it to be true of you, even this week, that every day you are provoked to new sins? Can you identify one impulse to sin from this past week?