READ: Genesis 19-21, Psalm 7, Matthew 7, Acts 7
Mortification is the process by which God progressively weakens the power of sin in us. God initiates this grace but He expects our participation. The weakening of sin’s death grip on us requires both an act of God and the unrestrained obedience of man.
God, because of His mercy with which He actively loves us, will take us by the hand (as He did for Lot in Gen. 19:16) and walk us away from disaster. Mercy keeps us from what we deserve. As long as we hold on tight and keep walking, we don’t get vaporized into a pillar of salt. God, because of His kindness which is unmerited, withholds us from sinning (as He did for Abimelech in Gen. 10:6) and from touching what (or who) we should not.
Thanks be to God that He takes initiative in my temptations to help me. I may always look back (to my own destruction) but escape is not only possible but orchestrated (and sometimes enforced) by God’s great mercy.
In the divine nature, mercy is always balanced by wrath. God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). The wicked are twofold: the unrepentant in outright rebellion, unprotected from God’s wrath, and those under the blood who are covered and protected but battle on against indwelling sin. The repentant are still wicked in heart, thought, and deed – they are simply counted righteous because of the prevailing blood of Jesus. God’s wrath then is directed at the wicked portion of me. He will judge it. God’s mercy in judgment is to expose what is wicked in me, divide it out of me, and destroy it.
It is in this context we are told not to judge one another (Matt. 7:1). Because we all have wicked hearts, because God’s wrath will in merciful judgment divide out my wickedness and destroy it, I must be careful that I view others in the same Calvary light. I must see not only their sin, I must accept the same mercy that covers me covers them. A soft heart towards others represents God’s perspective towards ourselves and ensures His kind dealings with our folly. Only when we have a mercy perspective (reflective of the Father’s heart) does He trust us to be ruler and judge of others (Acts 7:27). And God’s judgment always leads to deliverance (Acts 7:35).
Mortification is freedom.