A Picture of the Fruit of Killing Sin

“Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” John Owen

“But that is not the way you learned Christ – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24

This post is a picture of my own progress in killing sin, what theologians call mortification. It should be a daily thing, a daily dying, a daily starving of the sins the Spirit convicts you of and a cutting off of what feeds those sins. Do you know what feeds those sins that so easily entangle you? Do you know how to fight? (Read here to learn more.)

I live in a relatively wealthy suburb of Atlanta. Many here can afford the most expensive cars, houses, and private schools. We are not those people, and it’s been very easy for me to slip into a silent but persistent kind of envy and discontent. I’ve done a lot of work of trying to starve these sins, both with subtracting and adding (the putting off and putting on that Paul talks about above). I’ve added more gratitude and praise and I’ve taken away certain things on social media. By the power of God’s grace in me through Christ, I have fought and chipped away, seeing very little progress sometimes, but continuing to come back to the Cross, repenting and renewing my faith in Christ who has promised to finish his good work in me. (Phil. 1:6)

One day I experienced a kind of progress in this fight against these sins that stunned me. It was like I had reached what the hymn writer called a higher ground. I was driving over to a friend’s house to deliver dinner. As I drove down the road, glancing sideways at the beautiful new housing developments with their McMansions and perfectly manicured lawns, I felt something different. The envy and discontent that so easily came into my mind and bubbled up in my heart wasn’t there. It was not the default. It wasn’t a complete victory, and the battle continues to this day, but the foe had been dealt a blow. Not because of me, but because of Christ in me. Where these sins had once shouted, they were now whispering. Envy had been like a gnawing hunger but now it was like a faint aroma more easily ignored and replaced with gratitude. This was the power of grace. This was the fruit of putting sin to death. And I pray for the grace and strength to continue in this battle for his glory, for it is his work in me.

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Refrain:
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

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