Killing The Enemy Within You, Part II (Colossians 3:5) | Jared Betts

Killing The Enemy Within You, Part II (Colossians 3:5) – YouTube

The Requirement of our Souls

As promised, we are going to further discuss the matter where you who have been raised up with Christ “Consider the members of your earthly body as dead.”[1] We want to delve further into the mortification of sin. The processes of divesting sin of its power. The destroying sin of its strength. The putting of sin to death in your members. The striving to slay sin. The means of depriving sin of life before it deprives you of yours. It is as John Owen famously said:

“Always be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”[2]

We should first recall that the process of killing our sin is a critical matter because the Scripture says that without the progressive work of the sanctification of the Spirit and the putting to death of sin, we will not live eternally.[3] Without holiness of life, no one will see God.[4] This is because the sanctifying work of the Spirit in the life of the believer is the evidence of the Son’s justifying work on behalf of the believer. As Tom Ascol said:

“The grace that provides justification for us works sanctification in us.”[5]

To say it another way, those whom God freely makes right with Himself, He then wills and works in for His good pleasure.[6] After all, the Scripture says of those who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ alone that:

10 We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”[7]

Faith without works is therefore dead faith, because the grace that provides justification for us works sanctification in us.

Consider the words of Christ in John 15:1-2:

1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

There are two types of people in the verse here: 1. Those who do not bear fruit, 2. Those who bear fruit. They both have the appearance of abiding in Christ but only one evidences a true tapping into the source of life, and that is the one that bears fruit. The one that does not bear fruit is taken away to eventually be cast into the fire.[8] How does one know that they abide in Christ and Christ in them? They bear the fruit of Christ in their life, and not only that, but the Father prunes them. One cannot help but think of Hebrews 12, which depicts the love of God for His people. His love for them is seen in the fact that He disciplines them for their sin. Hebrews 12:4-11:

4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

God prunes His own of everything that does not resemble Him. Those who do not receive such a pruning can be assured they are not His, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” that they “may share His holiness.”

It was J.C. Ryle that said in his work entitled Holiness:

“He who thinks that Jesus Christ only lived and died and rose again in order to provide justification and forgiveness of sins for His people has much yet to learn. Whether he knows it or not, he is dishonoring our blessed Lord and making Him only a half Savior. The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people’s souls require – not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but also to deliver them from the dominion of their sins by placing the Holy Spirit in their hearts, not only to justify them, but to sanctify them as well. He is, thus, not only their righteousness, but their sanctification.”[9]

Peter says of Christ in 1 Peter 2:24 that:

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”

The Christian is a new creature being renewed day by day into the image of the One who created them.[10] They are progressively putting on the new self:

“Which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”[11]

The good news is that all who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and made alive with Christ can be confident, just as Paul was confident, that He who began this good work in them “will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”[12] Hebrews 12:4, therefore, tells us to pursue “the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” Romans 6:22 says:

22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”

Romans 8:13 says:

“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.”

There is an important truth we must all see in light of all that has been said thus far, which is that only believers can mortify sin. The flesh can only be put to death by a person empowered by the Spirit. Only believers possess the Spirit. This emphasizes the fact that the killing of sin does not earn salvation. Belief in Christ is the prerequisite to mortification. If you are not in Christ, your greatest issue is not the power of sin over you, but rather the penalty of sin which abides upon you. John 3:36 says:

36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

God does not call the non-believer to mortification. He calls them to repentance and faith. He calls them to see how Holy He is, and how heinous their sin is before Him, and how deserving they are of eternal death under His wrath for their sin, and how incapable they are of ever making themselves right before Him. Once this reality strips them of all confidence in themselves, He wants them to see His Son, who became a Man obedient to the point of death on the cross.[13] He wants them to see how capable He is to save them. He wants them to see how perfect, and righteous, and sinless and innocent He is. He wants them to see how undeserving He was of the cross so they might see His great love, in that while we were yet helpless, ungodly, sinners at enmity with Him, while we were yet the objects of His holy hatred, Christ died for us.[14] As John says:

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

He wants them to see that He made Him who knew no sin to become sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.[15] He wants them to see that He became a curse for us.[16] He wants them to see His Son being pierced through for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities under the wrath of God, the chastening for our well-being falling upon Him.[17] He wants them to see that there truly is forgiveness in His name.[18] He wants them to see that there truly is a hope of life eternal for all who call upon Him.[19] He showed us all by raising Christ back to life on the third day never to die again, and seating Him at His right hand. Romans 4:25 says of Christ that He was

“Delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”[20]

God does not task the non-believer with mortification. He commands them to repent and believe. To turn from themselves and to trust in Christ alone.[21] All who cling to Christ for mercy will have their hearts become His abode, where He will then take those whom He has called to Christ and begin to conform them to Him by the progressive sanctifying process of the killing of their sin.

This killing of sin is not merely the striving to cease from the outward action of it, but the seeking to suffocate the lust within which conceives and gives birth to it. In other words, it is not just a taming of the body, but a battle of the mind. A fight that endeavors to hold every thought captive in Christ, so that Christ, and Christ alone, might reign and not sin.[22]


The Character and Nature of Sin

Sin is one of our greatest foes, and if we are ever going to learn how to mortify it, we must take the time to understand our enemy. We must be aware that our hearts are its powerhouse. We must understand that the thoughts and intentions of our hearts are continually evil from our youth.[23] As Jesus said:

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

We must come to our senses and see that the desire of this enemy within us is for us. It is crouching at the door ready to dominate us.[24] It does not want to play. It wants to destroy. In Genesis 4:7, God uses the word tᵊšûqâ (Tesh-oo-kaw’), which depicts sin as a beast craving its prey ready to devour it.[25]  Sin wants to kill our communion with God. It longs to fracture our fellowship with others. It seeks to sap our souls of its life as it did with David, which drew him to say in the 38th Psalm, the song of a sin-sick soul:

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin.4 For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.5My wounds grow foul and fester because of my folly.6 I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long.
7 For my loins are filled with burning, And there is no soundness in my flesh.8 I am benumbed (Feeble) and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You.10 My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me.”

Sin strives to deprive a genuine believer of their comfort and peace. John Owen described it as this:

“Sin darkens the soul. It is a cloud, a thick cloud, that spreads itself over the face of the soul, and intercepts all the beams of God’s love and favour. It takes away all sense of the privilege of our adoption; and if the soul begins to gather up thoughts of consolation, sin quickly scatters them.”[26]

Owen rightly concluded that the believer’s life and comfort depends upon the mortification of sin.

Consider again Jesus’ analogy of The Vine and The Branches in John 15. Why does one prune a tree? The purpose of pruning the branches on trees is so that the tree might grow stronger and produce a greater abundance of fruit. Trees that are not pruned will not develop as they ought to because dead or damaged branches that are incapable of bearing fruit, yet still intact, will still be utilizing the trees energy. The tree may produce some fruit, but it certainly will not be as strong and healthy as it should be, and it will not be generating the amount of fruit it was design to generate. It is the same with unmortified sin in the Christian. Christians that are not actively seeking to mortify their sin will be weakened, stunted, and inevitably showing little fruit of Christ in their life. They truly will be in a miserable state. Sadly, some will not even realize it, especially those who need to be killing pride, which has a perniciously blinding nature that keeps people thinking more highly of themselves then they ought to and preventing them from seeing that they are nothing but sin. It will keep them from understanding and acknowledging what Paul did of himself, that “nothing good dwells” in them, that “evil is present” in them and it needs to be mortified.[27] Their life and comfort depends upon it.

Sin does just as Peter describes it, “It wages war against our soul.”[28] It does not sleep. It does not take a break from attempting to achieve its desire. It is constantly looking for ways to express itself through us to our ruin. Sin is deceitful by nature.[29] Lust acts as novocaine upon the conscience. It numbs us to what is right and what is wrong and convinces us it has our best interest in mind while encouraging us not to consider the consequences of whatever provision of the flesh it is attempting to persuade us to make, which is always hostile to God and unpleasing to Him.[30] It is like a ravenous beast that is not satisfied until it is fed, and we are dead. Owen pointed out that anyone that harbors lust in their heart can expect with certainty:

“The hardening of your heart, the searing of your conscience, the blinding of your mind, the dulling of your affections, and the deceiving of your whole soul.”[31]

Needless to say, this is not an animal to trifle with.


Beginning to Kill the Enemy Within

By this point, any honest person can realize that they are in a real serious jam. They are in a dire situation. They possess a body of death that they need saving from.[32] Of course, the question is then, how do we mortify our sin? How do we work to deprive sin of its life in us so that we might live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age?[33] How do we go about this constant fighting and contentious with sin, and the weaking of the lust so that we might see progress in mastering it? As was said last week, the answer is profoundly simple, by the work of Christ and the power of the Spirit in you and through you.

“If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”[34]

Galatians 5:16-17:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

It was John Owen that said:

“Our strength in the performance of this duty comes through the Spirit. All other ways of mortification are in vain. Men may attempt this work based upon other principles, but they will come short. It is a work of the Spirit, and it is by Him alone that we are to experience victory. Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, to the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.”[35]

Remember, this business of killing our sin is not merely the striving to cease from the outward action of it, but the seeking to suffocate the lust within which conceives and gives birth to it. James 1:14-15:

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

Yes, “flee from youthful lust.”[36] Understand the sins which so easily entangle you and do not put them before you. Realize, however, that sin is a reality because lust lives and flourishes in the mind, so if you want to kill sin, you must aim not only to avoid lust outwardly, but to uproot lust itself inwardly. How does one do this? Well, since sin occurs when our wills become intimate with lust, and lust begins in the mind, mortification can only begin to be achieved when the mind is being renewed. If you allow lust to live comfortably in the mind you will never mortify sin. Romans 12:2:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Ephesians 4:22-23:

“Lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”

If you want to begin to attack sin in the mind, you must seek Christ and set your mind upon Him.[37] You must fix your eyes upon the One who was rich, yet for our sake became poor, so that we through His poverty might become rich.[38] You must consider what He became so that we could become what He is. Without a mind fixed on Christ and His person and work on the cross for His people, we will not love Christ they way we ought, and consequently we will not hate sin with the fervency mortification demands.

This is one of the greatest ways the Spirit begins to bring about mortification in us. He reveals Christ to us by the Word He inspired through holy men of old, and He then brings His Word to bear heavily upon the minds of those He inhabits so they might understand that their life is not their own. They have been bought with a price and are therefore to glorify God with their bodies and not do as they please.[39] If you want to strive to master sin, then you must master your mind. You must keep every thought captive in Christ, for as He says in His teaching on Him being the vine and we the branches:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”[40]

Church, let us begin to be depriving sin of its life before it deprives us of ours. Our life and comfort depend upon it! Begin to be killing it, or rest assured it will be killing you! We will give further consideration to more on the how of all of this next week. Recall the words of Charles Hayden Spurgeon:

“Look to the cross, and hate your sin, for sin nailed your Well Beloved to the tree. Look up to the cross, and you will kill sin, for the strength of Jesus’ love will make you strong to put down your tendencies to sin.”

As Owen said in his day:

“Set your faith upon Christ for the killing of your sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in the light of Christ’s great work, and you will die a conqueror. You will, through the good providence of God, live to see your lust dead at your feet.”[41]


[1] Colossians 3:5

[2] The Mortification of Sin: Abridged, John Owen; Page 5

[3] Romans 6:22; 8:13

[4] Hebrews 12:14

[5] Kill Your Sin – Founders Ministries

[6] Philippians 2:12-13

[7] Ephesians 2:10

[8] John 15:6

[9] Holiness, J.C. Ryle; Page 44-45

[10] 2 Corinthians 4:16; Colossians 3:10

[11] Ephesians 4:24

[12] John 3:3,5; Ephesians 2:1,4-5; Philippians 1:6

[13] Philippians 2:5-8

[14] Romans 6:6-10

[15] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[16] Galatians 3:13

[17] Isaiah 53:5,10

[18] Colossians 5:19

[19] John 3:16

[20] Romans 4:25

[21] Acts 17:30

[22] Romans 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:5

[23] Genesis 6:5; 8:21

[24] Genesis 4:7

[25] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; OT Number: H8669

[26] The Mortification of Sin: Abridged, John Owen; Page 24

[27] Romans 7:18-19,21

[28] 1 Peter 2:11

[29] Hebrews 3:12-13

[30] Romans

[31] The Mortification of Sin: Abridged, John Owen; Page 69

[32] Romans 7:24

[33] Titus 2:12b

[34] Romans 8:13

[35] The Mortification of Sin: Abridged, John Own; Page 2-3

[36] 2 Timothy 2:22

[37] Colossians 3:1-3

[38] Hebrews 12:2; 2 Corinthians 8:9

[39] 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

[40] John 15:4-5

[41] The Mortification of Sin: Abridged, John Owen; Page 116

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s