Theology Thursday #2

In this weeks “Theology Thursday” we will be breaking down the doctrine of sanctification (the process through which we are made holy). More specifically, we will be looking at mortification and vivification.

While this sounds like high and lofty language that has no place in student ministry, you will be surprised how applicable the concepts are and, more than likely, you have been teaching these, just not by name.


Les Galicinski in his paper, “John Calvin’s Doctrine of Sanctification” puts it this way:

“Mortification is the continual practice of putting to death the old self. Mortification is necessary because man’s nature is corrupt through the fall.”

In this definition, we hear strong ties to Colossians 3:5 that says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Mortification is the process by which we put to death what our depraved nature craves. We are a broken, sinful, selfish, self-centered, & self-serving people. Our actions continually indicate that we would prefer to be god and receive glory. Therefore, mortification is the process by which we battle this inclination.

Mortification is crucial concept for teenagers. Jesus is not just something they can add into their lives at no cost. There is a tangible cost to following Jesus, and those who don’t feel this tension, don’t understand mortification. While the Gospel is more than a list of do’s & don’ts, a heart that understand what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf feels the impetus to flee from sin, or that which separates us from Christ.


Vivification, as defined by Calvin in his “Institutes for Christian Religion“, is:

“the desire to live in a holy and devoted manner, a desire arising from
rebirth; as it were said that a man dies to himself that he may begin to live to God”

Here again, we find ties to Colossians 3:2 which states, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Vivification is the process through which we become the new self “which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10). 

Vivification includes pursuing a righteousness that is not our own in that it is not meant for our glory, but for His. Students who grasp this concept understand that we are called to think, live, and act in a way that might not make since to those outside Christ. Faith is not something put in a drawer or on a shelf, but rather something that is lived out by loving God, loving others, and making disciples.

Youth Pastors: May we be found faithful in helping students grasp the two-step process of sanctification. May we faithfully navigate students in the process of putting sin to death and making Christ preeminent.

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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