14 April 2021
The above terms actually are reflected in Ephesians 4:22-24:
“..to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt thorough 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”
Putting off our old self is termed mortification whilst putting on the new self is termed vivification – these terms and their meaning are explained by many godly men of the past, including John Owen and Calvin, and they are essential not only to be understood but to be worked out in our Christian lives as taught in Christ.
Regeneration makes man’s heart a battlefield, where the ‘flesh’ (the old man or old self) tirelessly disputes the supremacy of the ‘spirit’ (the new man or new self). The Christian cannot gratify the one without interference from the other (Gal.5:17; Rom. 7:23). Sin, from which by repentance he has formally dissociated himself, seems to take on a life of its own; Paul likens it ‘to a person, a living person, called the ‘old man or old self”, with his faculties and properties, his wisdom, craft, subtlety, strength. It is always at work in the heart; a temporary lull in its attacks means, not that it is dead, but that it is very much alive.
It is imperative therefore for us as Christians to know that the battles are ongoing and we must not be lulled to a false sense of security; the fight with sin is lifelong. And the man who claims perfection is self-deceived, and riding for a fall.
God’s purpose for the Christian during his life on earth is sanctification (1 Thess. 2:3; 1 Peter 1:15).
Sanctification has a double aspect: its positive side is vivification, the growing and maturing of the new man or new self; its negative side is mortification, the weakening and killing of the old man or old self.
Sanctification is an immediate work of the Spirit of God on the souls of believers, purifying and cleansing of their natures from the pollutions and uncleanness of sin, renewing in them the image of God. It is the universal renovation of our natures by the Holy Spirit into the image of God, through Jesus Christ, effecting holiness as the effect and fruit of this work.
Holiness is both God’s promised gift and man’s prescribed duty: we cannot perform our duty without the grace of God and God gives us grace to this end that we may rightly perform our duty.
The Christian, therefore, must use the means of grace diligently: hearing, reading, meditation, watching, praying, worshipping; he must apply himself to obedience to God, an all-round, constant conformity to God’s revealed will; and he must persevere in it with resolutions and obedience. Yet he must remember that the power is from God, not himself, and do it all in the spirit of prayerful dependence, or else he will fail. Seeking thus to grow in grace means battling directly against the world, just as mortifying sin means battling directly against the flesh. Thoughts must therefore be guarded, the heart must be watched, and habits of disciplined meditation formed, or one will never be able to sustain the spiritual-mindedness that is the seed bed of true growth in the life of grace and holiness.