Paul's Passing Thoughts

Will The Poo Pooing Of Scripture’s Plain Sense Ever Cease?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 22, 2009

I stumbled onto a pretty good post today. It was a commentary on the Bob Newhart skit where his counsel to a young lady is to “JUST STOP IT!” The YouTube link is the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYLMTvxOaeE

I think Tim Challies had a good scriptural observation in regard to the skit:

“Some time ago I spoke to a friend about an ongoing sin in his life and tried to show him that the essence of his problem was this: he hates his sin just a little bit less than he loves it. Sure he wants to stop sinning, but even more he wants to keep sinning. And I think he came to agree. My advice was pretty well what Newhart offered the woman in this video: “Stop it!” Are you fighting sin? I’ll pray for you—really, I will. And I’ll recommend that you memorize some Scriptures, some fighter verses, that will help you battle that sin by bringing to mind the promises of God. But I’ll also challenge you to just stop it and to stop it now. You stop sinning by turning your back on it. You do not sit back and wait for God to change you while you remain in your sin. Rather, you join him in the fight, joining your will with His strength. And together you go to war.”

The post can be viewed in it’s entirety here: http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/just-stop-it.php

Let me emphasis a segment of the above quote: “You stop sinning by turning your back on it. You do not sit back and wait for God to change you while you remain in your sin. Rather, you join him in the fight, joining your will with His strength. And together you go to war.”

Truly, the sanctification process is somewhat of a mystery with it’s share of paradoxes. However, there is plenty of certainty to go around and one thing we can be certain of is sanctification is impossible without God’s power in us. With that said, neither are we merely potted plants in the process either. As a matter of fact, I find the word’s of Christ spoken to the servant who hid his talent in the ground a bit chilling, if not terrifying. Christ straight up called the servant “lazy.” That’s why I like the above quote by TC. I think it captures the biblical application to real life as stated in Scripture.

But in this day when proponents of a purely monergistic view of sanctification are launching a full court press and claiming to be new reformers, someone was bound to object in the comment section armed with the profound wisdom of the father of modern day “let go and let God” theology, David Powlison. In the comment, a link is supplied to an interview where Powlison comments on the Newhart skit and objects to the idea of biblical abstinence. Here is his comment: “Our Father never simply says ‘Stop it!’ to the Katherine Bigmans or anyone else.”

This is what drives me absolutely nuts in regard to these guy’s at CCEF. They continually contradict the plain sense of scripture and continually get a pass on it. Tim Challies is making the point that abstinence is a viable faucet in the scheme of sanctification that is often looked over  in our overly analytic, book infested, counseling infested culture. If you understand Powlisons theology, he can’t give into this one little fact without pulling the rug out from under his overly passive psychoanalytic approach to sanctification. Our Father “never” tells anybody to simply stop it? Consider the following scriptures:

“Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you'” (John 5:14).

By the way, suggest to many these day’s that God would threaten punishment as an incentive to right behavior and watch the blood vessels start popping out in their necks. It’s as if these guy’s don’t think Christians even read their Bibles anymore, and perhaps that  is the case.

“You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell” (Acts 15:29).

“As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality” (Acts 21:25).

Let me make a point here with this verse:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1Peter 2:11).

Why is “Just stop it” an important element of sanctification? It’s not rocket science. Look at the above verse. Sinful desires war against our soul. If we abstain, the desire cannot even get on the battlefield. That should be pretty evident. However, let’s stop a moment and consider another excerpt from TC’s post:

“Some time ago I spoke to a friend about an ongoing sin in his life and tried to show him that the essence of his problem was this: he hates his sin just a little bit less than he loves it. Sure he wants to stop sinning, but even more he wants to keep sinning. And I think he came to agree. “

Let me show you how profound that counsel is from Romans 12:9;

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

What would one do to stop loving his wife? IGNORE HER, then focus on all of her negative attributes. Sin has no positive attributes except temporary good feelings. One aspect of our role in sanctification is to abstain from sinful relationships and cling to Godly relationships and the affections (sincere love) will follow. It’s a matter of investment. It’s a matter of choosing what are treasure is. Is it my contention that Paul teaches the biblical prescription for sincere love in this one little verse with 13 words? Yes it is. Do I also believe that it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to effect the prescription? Yes I do.

Again, let me emphasis that this is only one aspect of what sanctification looks like on ground level. In another one of the comments in regard to this post, the following was said:

“That video IS awesome. It always reminds me of two things:
A. Al Mohler’s three step “counseling technique” that he (jokingly) talked about at Shepherd’s Conference 2006:
1. What is your problem?
2. What would God have you do about it?
3. Why are we having this conversation?”

Al Mohler makes an extreme comment to make a good point, but we all know what the real answer is to question 3: Another aspect of sanctification is the need for encouragement, accountability and discipleship by others. CCEF waxes eloquent about many other elements of sanctification while leaving out the one that the Bible talks about most, obedience. The argument that obedience is a human sucking it up while picking ourselves up by our boot straps is a pathetic straw man. Biblical obedience is depriving the enemy of our souls in regard to provisions while loving our Lord (Romans 13:14 John 14:15).

paul

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