Romans 8:13 – How do I “put to death” the deeds of the body?

This entry is less of an article and more of a combination of notes and observations related to Romans 8:13. It’s not long, but I hope you find it helpful.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. ~ Romans 8:13
  •  “put to death” is the equivalent to “”consider dead” (F.F. Bruce, Romans, pg. 156)
  • This phrase is paralleled in Romans 6:11 – ”consider yourselves dead…”
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. ~Romans 6:11
  • Another parallel to Romans 8:13 is Galatians 5:24
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~ Galatians 5:24

Observations:

The mindset of the believer should be that of being dead to sin. On the one hand, we must affirm and declare that we have attained victory over sin through Jesus (and in the Spirit) and live as such; and on the other hand there must be both a conscious reliance upon the Holy Spirit and a consistent plea to God in prayer to continue bringing about the already-but-not-yet reality that we boldly proclaim: “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Practically speaking, victory in consciously resisting temptation to a particular sinful act (which is the fruit of the inward work of the Spirit) brings a new layer of confidence that I am indeed dead to sin. It is important to give God the glory for resisting sin, lest we become deceived and believe that we have some measure of righteousness in ourselves, apart from God.

As we walk in obedience to God’s commands, and commune with God in prayer, we are taken beyond mere intellectual belief in the statement, “I am dead to sin.” Something great and life-changing happens: We experience the reality of being dead to sin. This, in turn, compounds the growth of our faith and confidence in God.

The converse of this is failing to “put to death the deeds of the body” – or in other words, indulging the deeds of the body; that is, gratifying our natural desires without restraint. This leads to self-deception, hardness of heart, and unbelief. Sin and rebellion always precede unbelief. As J. Budziszewski put it:

It’s a funny thing about us human beings: not many of us doubt God’s existence and then start sinning. Most of us sin and then start doubting His existence.”

So, dying to sin is necessary and  irreplaceable if one wants to fellowship with God, sense His presence, and live a life of peace and victory that honors the Lord.


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