we, according to the Apostle, put to death, as it were, and crucify the old man of corruption, with his vices and sins; that they that are of Christ have crucified their flesh, with its vices and concupiscences, and die to ourselves; that we may put on the new man Jesus Christ, […] no virtue is more necessary for our eternal warfare. […]
[…] no one can be a good Christian, without waging perpetual war against his own sensual inclinations, and diligently taking up the cross of daily mortification.Richard Challoner, Meditations, August 18 entry
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another #shorts post.
Today’s quick tidbit once again comes from Richard Challoner’s daily reader, Meditations. The full title being: Considerations Upon Christian Truths and Christian Duties: Digested Into Meditations for Every Day in the Year.
By the way, I want everyone to know Meditations is a book in the public domain—it’s free!! You can read it for free as a PDF (if you want a print copy like I prefer, you have to buy one). Check out the free PDF HERE.
If you download your own free copy, you can follow along with the entries I write about, or you can read an entry every day yourself.
Anyway, today’s selection from Meditations is about the ever-important topic of mortification. It’s about the importance of restraining and controlling our flesh, so our Spirit can thrive. Let’s take a look.
No Virtue more Necessary
Although I haven’t written about this in some time, in the past I’ve written about the flesh versus Spirit dynamic. This is a core topic of Christianity that gets … well … “fleshed out” (sorry) in great detail in the New Testament. I won’t go into the details because I’m going to let Challoner do the talking today.
But to sum it up, I would say this: We can indulge our flesh nature or engage our spiritual nature. If we indulge the appetite of our flesh for sensual pleasures (which means anything that stimulates the physical senses, from food to sex to entertainment and everything in between), we are indulging the flesh and making it stronger while our Spirit grows weaker. But if we deny the appetite of the flesh through fasting and abstinence and other such things along with engaging in Spiritual activities like devoted prayer and studying God’s word, then we boost our Spirit and weaken the flesh.
We are born into flesh bodies, but God also created us as creatures of Spirit. As long as we inhabit this flesh, we will always live in a constant tension between our flesh nature and our Spirit side. But we always have the power to focus on one aspect over the other and make it stronger.
If we indulge the flesh, we make our flesh dominant and grow closer to the world and farther from God. If we engage with God and boost our Spirit by denying the flesh, our Spirit becomes dominant and we grow closer to God and farther from the world.
This is why periods of fasting and prayer are so important in a Christian’s life. We want to boost our Spirit and grow closer to God while growing father from the world. And we want to control our flesh rather than letting it control us.
But anyway, that’s enough from me. I said I would let Challoner do the talking today. So let’s hear what he has to say about the vital topic of the mortification of the flesh. Mortification is how we put our old selves to death so that we can put on the new man Jesus Christ. No virtue is more important for our eternal Spiritual warfare, Challoner says.
On Self-denial (August 18)
Consider 2dly, that the virtue of self-denial is usually called mortification, from a word signifying slaying, or putting to death; since by this continual fighting against our own vicious inclinations and passions, we, according to the Apostle, put to death, as it were, and crucify the old man of corruption, with his vices and sins; that they that are of Christ have crucified their flesh, with its vices and concupiscences**, and die to ourselves; that we may put on the new man Jesus Christ, […] no virtue is more necessary for our eternal warfare. […]
[…] no one can be a good Christian, without waging perpetual war against his own sensual inclinations, and diligently taking up the cross of daily mortification.
**concupiscence. noun: : strong desire, especially sexual desire (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concupiscence)Richard Challoner, Meditations, August 18 entry
But when we talk about mortification, it’s not really about destroying the desires of our flesh for the sensual pleasures of this world, whatever they may be. Let’s start with the most common and readily available sensual pleasure of them all: food. Obviously we need to partake in the pleasure of eating food, or else our physical body will die, and that would not honor the LORD if it isn’t His appointed time for our physical death.
No, mortification of the flesh is not about destroying the desires of the flesh. It’s about bringing them under our control and eliminating excesses. In this way, we can control our flesh rather than be controlled by our flesh. It’s not God’s Will that we should be controlled by our flesh and its desires, but that we should regulate our flesh under our own Self-Control. Then we can satisfy our appetites in ways that are not sinful or excessive. Challoner explains:
On the Mortification of the Passions (August 20)
Consider first, that ever since the corruption of our nature by sin, we lie under the necessity of keeping our passions in order, by a continual mortification of them. […] For as our nature is now corrupted, our love and hatred, our desires and fears, our joy and grief, our anger, etc. partaking of this corruption, are all apt to be disorderly, if not restrained, and corrected by daily mortification.
Consider 2dly, that this necessary mortification of our passions, chiefly consists in duly regulating all their motions: directing them, in a proper manner, to their immediate objects; and restraining all their excesses, […] Thus should we turn our love, our desires, and our joy, away from all disorderly affection for perishable creatures, to the living God: […] that by restraining them within their proper bounds, they may never disturb the peace of the soul, nor distract its application to God,Richard Challoner, Meditations, August 20 entry
So how do we know when our flesh appetites are under control?? Challoner explains that our desires are in order when we love all things according to the Will of God, in God, and for God’s sake. Since God created us with the capacity to feel and enjoy pleasure, it’s not sinful to take enjoyment and satisfaction from the pleasures available to us in this world. But we must never let anyone of those pleasures, whatever they may be, take the place of God in our hearts. God must always be our first and most important pleasure. We should be motivated only by our pursuit of God, and not by our pursuit of any pleasure. For more on this topic you may be interested in another blog post of mine entitled The Addict’s Curse. Click the link to check it out.
Now let’s finish out with the words of Richard Challoner on how to keep our desires in order.
On the Mortification of the Passions (August 20)
Now our love is regular and orderly, when we love all things according to the golden rule of the will of God; when we love our friends in God, and our enemies for God’s sake; […] whatever love of any person, or creature, or anything else, offers to captivate our affections, or to divide or withdraw any part of our heart from God, or to carry us out of the bonds of moderation, reason or religion, must be restrained, corrected and mortified; because such disorderly love strikes at the very root of the welfare and salvation of the soul, by violating the very first, and principal of all God’s commandments; which is to love the LORD our God with all our heart.Richard Challoner, Meditations, August 20 entry
That’s it for #shorts #15. Stay tuned for more #shorts all this month.
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Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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