Mortification Of The Flesh

There is no more remarkable journey than Elijah’s last day’s pilgrimage from Gilgal to Jordan (2 Kings 2:1-15). The time has come for him to ascend to heaven, leaving Elisha behind to represent on earth the man who is taken to heaven. The starting point of Elisha’s ministry in an ascended man. He is to be the witness on earth of the power and grace that can righteously put a man in heaven in spite of sin, death, and all the power of the enemy.

In order to be effective witnesses, we must, in the experience of our souls, know something of the great truths shadowed forth on this last day’s journey. We too must travel from Gilgal to Jordan and catch the vision of the ascended and glorified Man, before we can in any measure set forth His graces and excellencies in a world from which He has been cast out.

Gilgal was the starting point on this memorable day. There Israel was separated unto God by circumcision, and there, when circumcised, God could say to the people, “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you” (Josh 5:9). There the flesh was cut off, and there the reproach of Egypt was rolled away. At the Red Sea they were delivered from Egypt, but not until they were circumcised on the banks of Jordan was the reproach of Egypt rolled away.

We know from the Epistle to the Colossians that circumcision is typical of the “putting off the body of the flesh” (2:11). We have been delivered by death from that evil thing which the Word of God calls “the flesh”. But that deliverance is in Christ’s death unto sin, and faith reckons that we have died with Him. Based upon this great fact we have the exhortation, “Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Col 3:5). The Apostle at once tells us what these members are: “fornication, uncleanness. Vile passions, evil lusts, and covetousness which is idolatry.” Then too, we are to put of “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication and lying.”

It is important to remember that these are not the members of the body, but the members of the flesh. The “members of the body” we are to yield to God (Rom 6:13); the members of the flesh we are to put to death. Again, it is not the flesh that we are exhorted to mortify, but the “members” of the flesh. The flesh has been crucified on the Cross (flesh - “old man” or Adamic sinful nature – Rom 6:6—NC). This, faith counts on, but in our daily walk we are to cut off every evidence of the flesh—those ugly and evil things in which we lived when we were in the flesh and of the world.

In the measure in which these things are still seen in us, to that extent the reproach of Egypt (old self, Satan and society—NC) still clings to us. For all these things proclaim, not only that we have been of the world, but the manner of life we lived in the world, and therefore become a reproach to us. But if these evidences of the flesh are cut off and no longer seen, then the reproach of Egypt is rolled away.

This putting to death of the members of the flesh is the Christian’s Gilgal, and just as Joshua, in the course of his victories, returned again and again to Gilgal, so the Christian, after every fresh victory, must beware of the manifestation of the flesh and unhesitatingly refuse it on the basis of the finished work of the Cross. This is the first stage of the journey and its importance cannot be overestimated. If we are to represent the Man who has gone to heaven, how necessary that every manifestation of the flesh should be absolutely judged and refused.

- Hamilton Smith