Pastor James J. Barker

Text: ROMANS 8:5-14


  1. Romans 8:13 says, "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."
  2. There is a contrast here between living after the flesh, and living after the Spirit (8:13); a contrast between being carnally minded or being spiritually minded (8:6).
  3. When Paul refers to the "flesh" here in his epistle to the Romans, he is referring to the power of sin in the flesh (cf. Rom. 7:18; 8:1, 4-9; 13:14). Paul is referring to our unregenerate fallen nature.
  4. Jude 23 says, "And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."
  5. The Bible warns us about "the lusts of our flesh" and "the desires of the flesh" (Eph. 2:3). There is no remedy for the flesh.
  6. The Scofield Study Bible says that in Scripture, "Flesh" refers to "the whole natural or unregenerate man...centered upon self, prone to sin, and opposed to God."
  7. H.A. Ironside said the flesh is "that lawless principle within man's breast that wars against the new nature."
  8. Handley Moule says the flesh is the element in man that resists God's grace.
  9. F.F. Bruce wrote, “There is something in humanity, even in regenerate humanity, which objects to God and seeks to be independent of Him. This ‘something’ is what Paul here calls his ‘flesh’” (Romans).
  10. This lawless principle that constantly wars against the new nature, this unrelenting power of sin in the flesh, cannot be destroyed in this life, but the deeds of the body, i.e., the deeds which proceed from the flesh, can be mortified.
  11. "Mortify" is a metaphorical expression, meaning "put to death" or "made dead."
  12. When I was a little boy, a popular comedian (this was back when comedians were funny and they were clean) named Jimmy Durante used to say, "I am mortified, mortified!"
  13. The word "mortify" is found twice in the Bible -- here in Romans 8:13, and in Colossians 3:5, which says, "Mortify (put to death) therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
  14. The same Greek word translated "mortify" is used in Matthew 26:59 -- " Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death."
  15. The same Greek word is used in I Peter 3:18 -- "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit."



  1. Unsaved people are always in the flesh. That is all they know because they have not been born again. They want every desire gratified. They are alive to sin, but they are dead to God. This is the exact opposite of what God wants (Rom. 6:11-14).
  2. Sinners may be religious or moral or educated or refined, but if they are not born again they are walking according to the flesh (Rom. 8:5).
  3. That is why Jesus said, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6, 7).
  4. But sadly, Christians can still yield to the flesh or walk in the flesh. It is important to understand that the flesh is still with us after we are saved (cf. Gal. 5:16, 17).
  5. The flesh is still with us, and the flesh is very dangerous. Therefore, we are to "mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13).
  6. Sanctification is not inevitable. Christians must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."
  7. Christians must choose to rely on the Holy Spirit for His power over the sin nature. This choice is repeated through the Word of God (Rom. 12:1, 2).



  1. The words, "if ye" and "but if" (8:13) indicate a choice.
  2. The words, "if ye" and "but if" (8:13) indicate that a Christian can be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and be sealed by the Holy Spirit, and be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but not be walking in the Spirit.
  3. Galatians 5:16 says, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
  4. If we "live after the flesh" (8:13), i.e., according to the pleasures and power of the flesh, spiritual death will be the inevitable result (cf. 8:6).
  5. But, on the other hand, if through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we mortify the deeds of the body, spiritual life will be the inevitable result.
  6. The Puritan John Owen illustrated this conditional proposition with the case of a physician telling a sick man, "If you will take such a potion or remedy, you will be well."
  7. But if the sick man refuses the remedy, he will not be well.
  8. In like manner, if a Christian walks in the flesh, and is controlled by the flesh, he is not well spiritually (Rom. 8:5-8, 13).
  9. Galatians 2:20 says, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." This truth must be appropriated. It must be experienced.
  10. James Stifler wrote, "The man in Christ is not in the flesh, but it is in him, and the problem of salvation is not how to transmute the flesh into something good, but how to live with this devilish thing every day without being overcome by it. The presence of the Spirit solves the problem" (Romans). This brings us to my next point...



  1. Romans 5:5 says the Holy Ghost has been given unto us. This is the key to mortifying the deeds of the body. Galatians 5:16 says, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
  2. It is impossible to live a holy life without a self-controlled body, and the way we learn self control is by depending upon the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit -- "through the Spirit" (8:13).
  3. The flesh is very demanding. The flesh is to be restrained by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13; cf. 8:1, 2).
  4. Quoting Owen again, "The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin. The principal efficient cause of the performance of this duty is the Spirit."
  5. Regarding Romans 8:2, F.B. Meyer said, "What gravitation is to matter, the down-pull of the flesh is to the spirit. There is not a single one of us, who is seeking to live the better life, that is not conscious of this down-pull. Indeed the laws of gravitation in the natural world have their counterpart in our inward experience. There is always a down-pull to the centre of gravity, i.e. to self--what I like, what I choose, what I prefer! The fall of the soul toward the flesh--or self-life--becomes increasingly rapid, so that every time we yield it becomes easier to yield, and the velocity becomes headlong. The child of God would fall with velocity equal to that of the depraved sinner if it were not for the law of the Spirit of Life which is in Christ Jesus which makes him free from the law of sin and death."
  6. He also said, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and death, just as the law of the elasticity of the air makes the bird free from the predominating power of the pull of gravitation."
  7. There is an illustration of this in the Matthew 14, when Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water" (Matt. 14:28). And our Lord said, "Come," and "when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus" (14:29).
  8. When Peter walked on the water, the power of gravitation did not cease to exist, but the operation of a greater law rendered it (temporarily, not permanently) inoperative.
  9. But as soon as Peter took his eyes off of Jesus he began to sink. The old law asserted itself and he was in trouble.
  10. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, we start to get in the flesh and we get in trouble (cf. Gal. 5:16, 17). Let us walk in the Spirit at all times!
  11. W. Graham Scroggie made an interesting statement. He said, "If the Holy Spirit, trusted by us, cannot enable us to live a life of continuous victory over indwelling sin, then Christianity is a failure and a farce. But it is not a failure and a farce, for Paul triumphed, and if he did, we can; and the Spirit Who can give us victory for a single hour, can give us victory every hour" (Salvation and Behaviour).
  12. Daniel "Ma­jor" Whit­tle wrote many beautiful hymns and Gospel songs, including, "The Banner of the Cross," "Christ Liveth in Me," "I Know Who I Have Believed," and "Moment by Moment."
  13. Many years ago, Hen­ry Var­ley, a preac­her from Lon­don, said this to Major Whittle, "I do not like the hymn ‘I Need Thee Every Hour’ very well, be­cause I need Him ev­ery mo­ment of the day."
  14. That statement inspired Ma­jor Whit­tle to write his hymn, "Moment by Moment." His daugh­ter May, who lat­er be­came the wife of D.L. Moo­dy's son, com­posed the mu­sic. In Eng­land the hymn be­came ve­ry pop­u­lar. An­drew Mur­ray of South Af­ri­ca, then vi­sit­ing Lon­don, adopt­ed it as his fa­vo­rite hymn. A year lat­er Mr. Mur­ray vi­sit­ed North­field, Mas­sa­chu­setts, and while hold­ing a meet­ing for men in the church he re­marked, “If Ira Sank­ey on­ly knew a hymn which I found in Lon­don, and would sing it, he would find that it em­brac­es my en­tire creed.”
  15. Ira Sankey was very anx­ious to know what hymn it was, and when Andrew Murray had re­cit­ed it, Sankey said to him, “Doc­tor, that hymn was writ­ten with­in five hun­dred yards of where we are stand­ing.”

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.


Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine

  1. Mortification cannot be done by our own efforts or by our own strength. Romans 8:13 says, "through the Spirit."
  2. Mortification cannot be done by our own efforts. On Good Friday, Catholics in the Philippines have themselves nailed to crosses. Others whip themselves to a bloody pulp.
  3. Years ago, Bart Brewer preached to our congregation, and he showed us a whip he used to use when he was a Roman Catholic priest.
  4. Furthermore, Romans 8:13 does not say we are to mortify the body. It says, "mortify the deeds of the body."
  5. Colossians 3:5 refers to these deeds as, "fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
  6. Galatians 5:19-21 refers to them as "the works of the flesh" -- "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings."
  7. This is done through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:1, 2, 9).
  8. First Thessalonians 5:19 says, "Quench not the Spirit."
  9. Ephesians 4:30 says, "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God."
  10. A Christian can quench the Spirit, and he can grieve the Holy Spirit by yielding to the flesh. That is why we are not to live after the flesh, and we are to mortify the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13).



  1. The book of Romans (esp. chapters 6-8) teaches that we have been delivered from the power of sin by virtue of what Christ has done for us on the cross.
  2. It is not necessary for us to sin. We have been freed from the power of sin and the necessity to sin.
  3. This is taught not only in the book of Romans, but all throughout the New Testament. First John 2:1 says, "These things write I unto you that ye sin not."
  4. The freedom lies in the power of the Holy Spirit who works in us and is bringing us into conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29).
  5. I heard an interesting story about a drunken roughneck who was saved over in London, England. They called him Bulldog Tom because he loved dogs and he loved dog fights, and he was often seen wandering around the streets of London with his bulldog following him.
  6. They called him Bulldog Tom because he loved dog fighting. One day he was walking down the streets, and he saw that there was a street meeting with singing and somebody preaching the Gospel. He stopped and heard the Gospel and he was saved.
  7. And immediately his life was transformed. Then one day someone came to him and asked him, "Tom, you've been a Christian for a much shorter time than I have and yet your life seems to be more God honoring than mine. What's your secret?"
  8. Tom said, "Well, I don't know that I have any secret but I do know this," he said, "Back in the old days when I was unconverted," he said, "I loved dogs and I usually had my dogs that I used in my dog fighting traveling with me."
  9. He said, "If we were walking down the street and there was a bone lying in the gutter, my dog would start for that bone and I would say no because bones are not good for dogs in training. But my dog would start for that bone, and I would say no, and the dog would look up at me and then his eyes would go back to that bone and I said no!"
  10. This man Bulldog Tom said the dog would look up to him and he said as long as he could keep that dog looking at him they got past all the bones and they were okay.
  11. Then he said, "It's kind of like that in my Christian life." He said, "When I walk down the streets now my old companions are there and they say come on Tom have a drink with us or come on Tom do this with us. Come on Tom let's do this like we use to."
  12. He said, "The Holy Spirit now dwells within me and he keeps saying no Tom, no Tom, no Tom!" And he said, "By the grace of God as long as I can keep my eyes on the Holy Spirit I can get past all of those bones and I'm okay."

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