5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
It is no wonder that we first received the Instruction “set your affections on things above and not on things below,” because in the very next verses, we would be called to mortify the things on earth or kill them. There seems to be a progression that should take place in the life of a Christian, “Seek things above,” “Set your affections on things above,” and now we must “Mortify your members which are upon the earth.” If we followed the first instructions the latter would be much easier. Often, we have such a hard time killing those lust and desires for the things of this life because it is like killing something dear to us, killing the pet that we keep in the house and feed on a daily basis, instead of the snake who has slithered into our pantry and is threatening our family. Where are our eyes? Where are our hearts? It is terribly hard to mortify that which you love, but much easier to mortify that which you hate.
It is no wonder he uses the word therefore because these verses are tied by an unbreakable union to the previous ones. Our affection and sight are on the world to come Therefore we can mortify the members on earth. We died with Christ and live with Him, therefore we should mortify our members on earth. The Word Mortify is used in 2 other places in the Bible, both times it is referring to the deadness of Sarah and Abraham’s womb [Rom 4:19, Heb 11:12]. There is a wonderful picture of what it means to mortify our members here on Earth. They had no ability to produce the promises of God in their own strength. God had promised, they had believed but experience and sight had proven that they could not bear children, their wombs were dead. Yet they believed, they did not “Stagger at the promises of God.” In God’s perfect timing, God did what they could never do, gave them the child, and fulfilled his promise in their life. We can put ourselves in their shoes when it comes to the issue of mortifying our members on earth. We have believed that Christ had made me a new creature and old things passed away and all things became new but sometimes experience and sight seem to teach me something different. Sometimes we, like Paul, say “O wretched man that I am” Or “In me there dwelleth no Good thing.” We know what He has promised and how we should act but are frustrated by our own inability. Dear friend, we have no more power to Mortify our members on earth than Abraham and Sarah had to produce the promises of God either, but by faith, they trusted He who was able and God did the impossible for them and through them. You may be discouraged that your affections are always drawn toward Earth and you find it difficult to mortify those members, trust him to do it! It was the look of faith that delivered his Salvation from sin in the beginning, and it will be faith In his promises that deliver us all our life long. If God can fulfill his promise of a child in a dead womb, then he can fulfill his promise of righteousness in a dead man.
He doesn’t beat around the bush when he describes the members that he is talking about. This should set an example for any Christians that we should name sin, sin. We have some today who like to use the word sin and say sin is bad but they never tell anyone what they are speaking of. Not Paul, he calls them by their name and so should we. It seems that all these have to do with our affections, no coincidence, seeing that he has told us where to set them. Now it seems he shows us what happens when our affections are set on earthly things. Fornication is a work of the flesh according to Galatians 5. We may say I’d never! But rest assured this is one of the works of your flesh and if you don’t mortify, you will multiply! Uncleanness is also one of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5 and here it means unholy thoughts or actions. Not just unholy as in the act of fornication but having the wrong motive. Third is inordinate affection, the word used here is pathos, where we get our word passion. This is something that our heart becomes enthralled with, of course, it could be a woman or man, but it could even be a job, a hobby, or any number of things. The rule that seems to be in my private life with the Lord is I can have whatever doesn’t have me, but the second my interest becomes passion then His heart is grieved, and I must mortify my passions. There is only room for Christ in the pathos/passion region of our hearts, he must be number one! Fourthly is evil concupiscence, which means lusting or longing for things that are not good. Lastly is covetousness which is idolatry. Do you see how all of these are tied to the affections of man? Dear friends, this is much a warning as it is an instruction! We see in this list what we should mortify and what we will become if we do not! Don’t think for a moment you are above the things in this list “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” [1Cor 10:12].
In verse 6 He seems to double down on the horrendous nature of these earthly members by reminding us that it is these very things that bring his wrath upon the ungodly. Not only is this a reminder of God’s wrath but a reminder of what he saved us from. He saved us from these things, He saved me from fornication, uncleanness, and from His wrath. Many Christians today boast of how he saved them from His wrath but they are still involved in those things that invoke his wrath. If you have a god who saved, you from the penalty of sin but has not saved you from the power of sin then I’m afraid you have a religion different than what we find in the scriptures. He saves us from the penalty of sin and thank God He saves us from the power of sin and one day he will save us from the presence of sin.
Lastly, he reminds us that there was a time when we lived in these things and to these things, “In the which ye also walked sometime when ye lived in them.” As the scriptures say, “We all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh.” This is true of every one of God’s children, that at one time we were in the world, we were dead to him and alive to this world. It is a reminder that we should never forget what he brought us from, where he brought us from, and how he has changed our lives. I can look back over my life and although the Lord saved me at an early age, I can see His hand purging me of these earthly members and he which began a good work in me has been and will be performing it in me unto the day of Jesus Christ! Never forget, you were dead to God and He quickened you together with Christ. Never forget what you used to be, or you will be in danger of forgetting what he has done. Everything he says about us in verse seven is past tense and may that be the truth of our earthly natures, past tense. God help us, if we must speak of our “Conversations in the world” may they always be “In times Past.”