I recently came across this article by Sinclair Ferguson entitled, "The Practice of Mortification" on the Ligonier Ministries website. In an effort to work through it and understand it better, I condensed and re-worded it. Hopefully Mr. Ferguson won't mind my sharing his work in this way. He bases the article primarily on Colossians 3:1-17.
1. I am a new creature in Christ, and I need to remember that every day and hour. It is my new identity, for I've died, been buried, been raised, and my life is hidden in Christ. I've been delivered from sin's dominion, and been liberated to fight against sin's remnants in my heart.
2. Sin must be attacked in every area of my life, not just one area. All forms of sin work together against me, supporting one another. I am the issue, not some particular sin, just like potato chips are not a dieter's problem, the person is!
3. Practical guidance for mortifying sin - Paul give hints in the overall passage:
A. Call sin like it really is, don't pussy-foot or down-play your own sin -- for me it is sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire, idolatry. Sin needs to be exposed for what it truly is, before we can deal with it.
B. See my sin from God's perspective, recognize that it deserves God's wrath, and I must bring it to the cross daily to see Christ bearing God's wrath against my sin. My sin does not lead to lasting pleasure, but to divine displeasure. I need to see my sin's character by the way God judges it. Sin is as serious in a believer as in an unbeliever, and is not forgiven if I continue in it -- for that would be evidences of a lack of repentance. I need to feel the shame of the sin I once committed, and now struggle against.
C. Sin is inconsistent with who I really am in Christ. I am no longer the "old man" nor "in Adam", but "in Christ". Sin is not consistent with being in Christ, so if I am not living in newness of life through Christ, then I am not living "in Christ."
D. Putting sin to death is as simple as refusing it, starving it, rejecting it. It is painful, but there is no other way.
But puting sin to death is only a part of the whole picture, and cannot be done by itself. It must be done in conjunction with "putting on" Christ. The negative will not be accomplished separate from the positive, and vise-versa. We must understand and apply the "glorious exchange" principle of the Gospel of grace in order to make advancements in holiness. Adam-like sinful desires and habits are not only rejected, but exchanged for Christ-like graces, actions, and are held together by love. This evidences itself in our private, family, and public lives, for the glory of God.