20 AUGUST 365 Days with Calvin

Bearing the Marks of Christ

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:10

suggested further reading: Romans 8:28–39

The word mortification translated as dying, means something different here than it does in many passages of Scripture. Often mortification means self-denial, or renouncing the lusts of the flesh and being renewed unto obedience to God. In this verse, however, it means the afflictions by which we are stirred up to meditate on the termination of the present life.

To make it more plain, let us call the former usage “inward mortification” and the latter one “outward mortification.” Both kinds of mortification conform us to Christ; one directly, and the other indirectly, so to speak. Paul speaks of inward mortification in Colossians 3:5 and in Romans 6:6, where he teaches that our old man is crucified so that we may walk in newness of life. He speaks of outward mortification in Romans 8:29, where he teaches that we were predestinated by God so that we might be conformed to the image of his Son.

However, this mortification of Christ is only so for believers, because the wicked, in enduring the afflictions of this present life, share those with Adam, but the elect participate in sufferings with the Son of God, so that all those miseries that by nature are accursed are helpful to their salvation. It is true that all the sons of God have in common bearing about the mortification of Christ. But as one is distinguished from another by a larger measure of gifts, he in that proportion comes closer to conforming with Christ in this respect.

Paul adds, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. Here is the best antidote to adversity; as Christ’s death is the gate of life, so we know that a blessed resurrection will terminate all our miseries. Christ has associated us with himself so that if we submit to die with him, we shall also be partakers of life with him.

for meditation: Afflictions can be a great blessing for us. John Bunyan said that believers “are like bells; the harder they are hit, the better they sound.” This “better sound” derives from being and sounding more like Christ. How have your afflictions brought you closer to Christ and made you more like him? What can we do to further this process of sanctification amid our afflictions?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 251). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

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