Grace Family Bible Church
The Practical Life
By: Scott Morton
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:  For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:  In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
The Apostle Paul is going to be starting to shift the focus of this epistle from the doctrine for believers into how to live our lives. This is something we see happen in all of his epistles. Paul gives doctrine for the believers and then starts to talk about how this doctrine is applied and the changes which should happen in the life of the believer. This is something which some would say those who study the Bible dispensationally do not focus enough on. The accusation is we spend too much time on doctrinal issues and not enough time on the practical things. If someone has an understanding of the doctrine, the practical things will follow. This does not mean we are to ignore the practical issues, as we should have an understanding of these things as well.
We can see how it is that the grace message given to us today has an impact on how we are to live our lives:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
All of mankind has access to the message which saves today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is the only thing which can provide salvation. It is also the grace of God which impacts the life of the believer, showing what should and shouldn�t be done on a daily basis. None of the bad things have an impact on our salvation, but instead impact the reward we will have, the ability to rule with Him in the heavenly places.
Grace shows us how to live our lives through the love which had been demonstrated towards us. This motivation is greater than the fear which was part of the law system through which God dealt with Israel in time past. Since we are motivated by love, we should show the greater ability to do the good works. We will start looking at what the Apostle Paul says we should be doing.
The starting point for this is the Apostle Paul saying we have to mortify our members. The word mortify refers to something being put to death. This is something which might seem confusing to individuals, as we are currently alive today walking around in fleshly bodies and have been promised the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). However, the Apostle Paul is making a reference to something specific:
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Right after the discussion of the fruit of the Spirit, the Apostle Paul brings up this issue of crucifying the flesh. From the practical sense, this is what the members of the Body of Christ are supposed to do. Once an individual has put their trust in the gospel message for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) they are to be experiencing the change within themselves as they take the Word of God in. This is what is being referenced here as having the flesh crucified.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Here again we have the practical issue of life and death being spoken of. The deeds of the body/flesh are to be put to death in order for us to be pleasing unto God. This is not something which is easy to do, as we can see how the world system is set up to please the things of the flesh. We will be discussing how it is the Apostle Paul is instructing us to accomplish this task.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
When Paul writes to the assembly at Ephesus we see that he speaks of how they are to put off the things of the old man. He uses the word conversation here, which is referring to the lifestyle. We are to put off all of the things which are associated with the life related to the old man (the flesh) as we are making the changes which God would have us make.
Some might think this is an impossible task and that the Apostle Paul did not have to worry about these things. We see from what he writes that this was an issue for him as well, as he is in the same condition we are and he was functioning as the pattern for us on how to live.
1 Corinthians 9:27
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Paul identifies here that he was attempting to bring his body under subjection. This means this was a process that was still going on even when he was writing these epistles and ministering unto the local assemblies. He knew there was a struggle related to the practical things of the every day life of a believer. This is something we can grasp and he lays out perfectly in the following passage:
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
One of the reasons this passage causes problems for so many is they feel this in Paul describing his life prior to salvation. It is really unclear why he would even be getting into a discussion of that. The only reason they can really come up with is they don't want to admit that there is a struggle which Paul is describing. He is talking about how he is having this struggle even at the point he is writing to the saints at Rome. If he is having a struggle of this nature of doing things contrary to what God would have him do, then we know that we would have a similar situation which would go on for us as well. This is why people do not want to even think this could be possible.
Paul speaks of issues with this many times in his epistles. He speaks to the believers in Galatia about a similar struggle as well:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Apostle Paul is speaking here about the ability to walk in the spirit and is contrasting this with the ability to fulfill the lust of the flesh. Many today, even those who are preaching the Word of God rightly divided, teach the issue of how someone could walk in the flesh (be identified in the flesh). They teach this as if someone could bounce back and forth between walking in the spirit and walking in the flesh. There are many problems with this. The flesh has been considered to be dead in the eyes of God and has even been spiritually circumcised (Colossians 2:11-13), meaning that it is not considered to be part of who we are. This happens the moment we put our trust in the gospel message for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Those who are identified in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8) and would only be capable of facing condemnation or wrath from God (Romans 8:1, 4). We know we are not appointed to wrath, so it would not be possible for us to face this condemnation.
What the Apostle Paul does mean by this is we are walking around still in these fleshly bodies and the flesh has the desire to do the things which are contrary to the Word of God. While these things come naturally to the flesh, they should not come naturally if we are truly functioning in the spirit and doing the things which are pleasing unto God according to the doctrine which has been given unto us.
The Apostle Paul starts to list out a number of things which we should be avoiding here practically. This is how he lays out his epistles, first focusing on the doctrine which we should be following and then shifting into the practical things. He wants to make sure we have the doctrine built up in order to be able to do the things which are considered to be pleasing unto God.
The first of these issues which is being brought up by Paul is the issue of fornication. This is a word which we do not hear very often being used in society today. There are many other words which are used for this, all created to allow the issue of fornication to be considered normal and acceptable in the eyes of society. The following is the definition of fornication from Webster's 1828 Dictionary:
1. The incontinence or lewdness of unmarried persons, male or female; also, the criminal conversation of a married man with an unmarried woman.
2. Adultery. Mat 5.
3. Incest. 1 Cor 5.
4. Idolatry; a forsaking of the true God, and worshipping of idols. 2 Chr 21. Rev 19.
We can see from this the difference between what God is saying and what the world system says. We are not going to list out all of the different terms which the world uses instead. These are things which we see in media, entertainment, the education system, and unfortunately at times coming from behind the pulpit when individuals are accepting the thing of this world as the norm. Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and is the one who is controlling the things of this world. Individuals have to be very careful when they are accepting anything from this world, as the things which we are accepting and doing need to line up with what the Word of God says. Most of the things which the world accepts in this area are contrary to what God would say.
There are some in the world who think the Bible says all sex is bad and this should be avoided. God makes it clear in many different passages what was intended with sex. Sex is to be a natural part of a relationship between a husband and wife. Anything else would fall into the realm of fornication in the eyes of God. This is why this word has been avoided by most individuals.
The Apostle Paul then goes on to speak about the issue of uncleanness. The following passage shows what the Apostle Paul means by this:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:  Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
This is something which individuals have given themselves over to. It is a general term referring to the moral impurity which an individual has. This is what the Apostle Paul is saying these individuals have given themselves over to. They are allowing this thought process to control everything in their lives and are getting farther and farther from what God intends. Paul speaks about the other Gentiles here, as these are the ones who are not saved and are just following the things of this world. This is why it is said they have given themselves over to these things.
The next one here is inordinate affection. This is speaking about an excessive love of something, especially of the things which are contrary to God. This is a love which drives a person to be focusing everything in their life on whatever it is. The object of this affection becomes such a focal point that other things in the person's life are being affected by it, which often leads to a person doing the things they should less and less. It will impact the relationships an individual has, including their relationship with God, His Word, and what the individual should be doing according to His Word. This is a dangerous thing for an individual to have happen to them.
The next one here is evil concupiscence. This is another one of those words which we do not use very often. The following is the definition from Webster's 1828 Dictionary:
[L., to covet or lust after, to desire or covet.] Lust; unlawful or irregular desire of sexual pleasure. In a more general sense, the coveting of carnal things, or an irregular appetite for worldly good; inclination for unlawful enjoyments.
We know even secret concupiscence to be sin.
We see from this definition that the idea of concupiscence is referring to the desires and lusts which the individual has. This is present in the individual because of the fact we still walk around in fleshly bodies:
But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
1 Thessalonians 4:4-5
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;  Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
These two passages show other times the Apostle Paul used the word concupiscence as he was writing to the local assemblies. To the assembly at Rome, Paul speaks about how sin is what brought about these lusts. This is a big part of why we see the Apostle Paul spent time in the same epistle prior to this showing how they had been made free from the law and were functioning under grace. Paul wanted them to know they were to be separate from these things and that these lusts should no longer have the power over them.
Paul speaks to the assembly at Thessalonica about the marriage relationship in this passage and how they were to be honoring this relationship. They were not the be allowing the concupiscence have an influence on them to where they would be giving into these lusts and would be destroying the relationship they were to have with their spouse. This should be a natural thing for married individuals, but unfortunately many give into these lusts and break the marriage covenant.
The last of these things which they were to be putting to death is covetousness. While the normal definition we would think of with this is the person who just has a desire for someone else's stuff, the Apostle Paul speaks about how this is idolatry. The following is Webster's 1828 Dictionary definition of idolatry:
1. The worship of idols, images, or any thing made by hands, or which is not God.
Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, &c. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.
2. Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.
The issue here is the excessive attachment which individuals have to physical things. In a sense this attachment and desire gets to be so great that their focus in life revolves around whatever the item is. There are many things which can take on the form of idolatry. It is not simply just the statues and pictures of things 'religious' someone has. Anything which takes a level of control in someone's life which can be considered an excessive attachment, usually shown by the amount of time someone is spending related to it, would be considered idolatry. This is why the Apostle Paul speaks about the issues of moderation over and over in his epistles.
Paul speaks about how there is going to be wrath coming upon the children of disobedience for these things:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
We see here in the book of Romans that the wrath of God is against anything which is opposed to the things of God. These things listed in Romans 1:18 are all opposed to the things of God. God cannot be associated with these things, which is why there will be wrath poured out on them in the future.
It is strange to see any discussion about wrath when we are speaking about the members of the Body of Christ. Paul speaks about how we are not appointed to wrath in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and many other passages. This is not something which we are going to have to worry about. The reason we do not have to worry is the following:
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
We are not going to face the wrath of God because we have the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is part of who we are the moment we put our trust in the gospel for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Once we are identified in this manner and sealed with the holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13-14) we are guaranteed to be in this position and do not have to worry about facing the wrath of God.
This wrath is going to come upon those identified as the children of disobedience. While this not something the members of the Body of Christ are going to have to worry about, there are those who are identified as the children of disobedience:
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
The first part of this verse indicates that we walked according to the course of this world prior to our salvation. This is what the Apostle Paul means by the phrase time past in this verse, not discussing the time elements we normally think of related to right division. The things we were doing were according to what Satan wants (the prince of the power of the air), whom the unsaved are still following at this time. They are the ones who are being identified here as the children of disobedience, as they have not obeyed the gospel (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
The Apostle Paul is speaking here about a choice which someone can be making. Individuals choose what they want to obey and he is praising the saints at Rome for making the choice to obey the doctrine which had been delivered unto them. He knew, even though he had never seen them that they were following the doctrine which he was preaching and this is why he could write the things he did to them. Paul knew they were not part of the children of disobedience.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-8
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Here the Apostle Paul is speaking about what will be happening when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth in Israel's program. This is being done to contrast with the hope we have as the Body of Christ. We can see here how Paul speaks of vengeance which is going to be poured out on those who do not know God and those who have not obeyed the gospel. These individuals would be identified as the children of disobedience and will be seen as outside of God's plan. The only thing which they can face is the judgment of God.
As the Apostle Paul continues teaching them, he speaks about how they were doing these things previously prior to their salvation. He knows the change which has come about them with believing the gospel. He identifies this fact in other assemblies as well:
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.  For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
As Paul is writing to the believers at Rome, he is speaking about how they were identified in the past as having yielded to uncleanness and iniquity. These were the things which were driving their lives and were putting them in a position where they could not be pleasing unto God. He is asking them at this point to be following God and what has been laid out in the Word. This is the only way someone is going to be pleasing unto God and is the process of practical sanctification, which is what the Apostle Paul deals with when he is speaking of the practical things for a believer.
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.  But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Continuing in this same epistle to those in Rome, the Apostle Paul speaks of a contrast between when they were in the flesh (prior to salvation) and where they are at now. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God, which is why it is made very clear that this is something which someone cannot walk in today. In this same epistle Paul speaks about how there would be condemnation to those who are in the flesh (Romans 8:1). Some try to teach that a person can bounce between being in the flesh and being in the spirit. Paul makes it clear this is not something which can be done today.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Here the Apostle Paul is speaking to the local assembly in Corinth and is speaking about how those who are identified in this manner will not be able to inherit the kingdom of God. These individuals were identified in this manner because the issue of sin was still a part of who they were.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
Here is another list of things which believers were. These are things which we are no longer identified in. We can still do some of these things, which is why there are other statements which the Apostle Paul makes about the life of believer.
As the Apostle Paul writes to the assembly in Corinth he makes a couple of statements about the things which individuals are doing:
1 Corinthians 6:12
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
When these two passages are put together we can see how the Apostle Paul was speaking about the things which are being done. All of the things were lawful for him to do because the law had been removed from the equation. This was not to have an impact on their life. However it is not expedient, or profitable, to be doing all things. There are things which are going to cause harm to self or others if someone continues to engage in these activities. Some of these have a power over the individual where they cannot seem to control themselves from not doing these things, what we would typically call an addiction. This is where the Apostle Paul is saying that the individual needs to be making sure they are not having this happen to them. The other issue is that not everything edifies. We are to be doing things which are edifying to others and we need to make sure this is how we are living our life.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
One of the first things to notice from this passage is that the Apostle Paul does not say an individual can walk in the flesh. The issue of walk here is the identification of the individual. As a believer we cannot be identified in the flesh. If we are able to be identified in this manner it would mean we would be subject to condemnation (Romans 8:1, 4) and would have lost our salvation. It is truly glorious that this is not possible for this to be true of us.
We are capable of giving into the lust of the flesh, as we still walk around in these fleshly bodies. This was what the Apostle Paul was warning the saints at Corinth about when he was telling them about how they were living. We need to be careful as we live our lives and do the things which are pleasing unto God. This is where our study of the Word of God builds us up in a manner to where we know exactly what God would want us to do.
The Apostle Paul does give an answer to this, as he does not let individuals figure things out on their own without guidance from God:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
The things which are listed here are part of the fruit of the Spirit. When we are functioning properly according to the doctrine which has been given unto us, these will be the result. We do notice they are all part of one fruit, which means all of them would be part of our life and we cannot pick and choose which ones we want. This fruit is the goal of the believer. Paul was telling the individuals at Colossae they had been identified with things contrary to God in the past. Now, they were to be living the life God intends, which involves the Lord Jesus Christ living through us (Galatians 2:20).
Too often individuals in this dispensation want to put the issue of doing things which are pleasing to God to the side. The feeling is we are saved by grace and do not need to worry about these things. We see the Apostle Paul brings up the issues of our behavior throughout his epistles:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
There are many believers who can quote verses 8 and 9 and use them as part of a presentation to individuals in order for them to be saved. While this is very important, there is not the understanding of verse 10, which speaks of what we are to do after we have been saved. We have a purpose, which is to be pleasing to God and demonstrate the good works which are to be part of our lives.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
In this epistle to Titus there is an instruction to be careful to maintain good works. This brings about the issue of being watchful, making sure this is happening. Paul is telling Titus, and us, the importance of continuing to be doing the good works. These are profitable unto individuals. It is not just for the believer to be feeling good about themselves and being prideful about what they have done. The good works are having an influence on other people, which is why it is a faithful saying and something which Paul was affirming to them constantly. He did not want them to lose focus of the issue of doing good things.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
Here we have the Apostle Paul begging them to walk worthy. The only way this is going to happen is to take the doctrine in as he has been laying out in this passage in Colossians. We need to be studying and applying the Word to our lives in order to be walking right. We see from the following verses what Paul says to Titus:
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
This is a responsibility we have. Too often we ignore this and try to just focus on the doctrinal things. We need to be putting the doctrine into practice in our daily lives.