Paul's Passing Thoughts

Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 28, 2015

gospel-gridGot sin? You do if you are a Protestant, and a lot of it. The “T” in TULIP doesn’t stand for total depravity for no good reason, no pun intended. The only good thing is focusing on the bad thing: your nasty, wicked self.

Sin is a really big deal in Protestantism because we get ourselves into heaven by dwelling on the fact that we are “sinners.” If we can do any good work, if ALL of our works are NOT filthy rags—that’s not living by “faith alone” for our justification. Supposedly, if we think we can do anything good, that’s not living by faith alone in what Jesus has accomplished for us, but rather living in the “confidence of the flesh.”

The foundation of Protestant soteriology is the idea that “Christians” live under the possibility of condemnation and should fear accordingly. Christians remain under the condemnation of the law and remain covered by professing that they can do no good work. By continually returning to the same gospel that saved us for forgiveness of works, both good and bad, the righteousness of Jesus continues to be imputed to us. Hence, “We have no righteousness of our own in salvation or the Christian life.”

In contrast, the emphasis of our Christian lives should be LOVE. We still sin, but it is not sin unto condemnation, but rather sin against our Father as a family matter. We may receive chastisement, but we are in no danger of condemnation. Not so with the Protestant gospel: the “Christian” remains under eternal condemnation and is only covered through faith alone by returning to the same gospel that saved us. This is why Protestantism has always been weak in the area of discipleship. This is why there is an obsession with making saved people rather than disciples. And by the way, the only place we can find continued forgiveness for “sin that removes us from grace” (Calvin/Luther) is under the “authority” of the local church. Go figure.

Even in Baptist churches, pastors bemoan the fact that “10% of the congregants do 90% of the work.” Well, dah, I am surprised that even 10% are doing anything as the focus is keeping oneself saved by focusing on how inept we are.

More and more in counseling, I am telling people to stop focusing so much on sin. Clearly, especially in the Protestant contemporary biblical counseling movement, the specific instruction is to “find the sin beneath the sin” as a means of growing your salvation as if salvation grows to begin with. If our focus is sin- searching as a means of spiritual wellbeing, and good works tempt us to think we did something good (again, Luther/Calvin), what in the world will be the results? Well, look around for yourself—it’s called “the church.”

ssp_temp_capture1A focus on sin will not prevent sin or promote love. If there is something to be gained by finding sin, it will be far from us to fight against it. Why would we cut off our supply of blessings by making the cross smaller? It becomes a supply and demand issue.

The Bible endorses a focus on love, not sin-searching. We are to look for ways to love God and others, not ways to find the “sin beneath the sin” or some endeavor to “peel back the layers of sin.” No doubt, there is a CONTROL conspiracy involved with this supposed method of sanctification as well. Stripping people of an accurate evaluation of self is a very efficient way of controlling them. Being worthy enough to hold others accountable for their own good will not get you into heaven—only returning daily to the same gospel that saved you for a fresh set of downs to get into the salvation end zone.

And what will eventually happen to any marriage if the constant focus is your spouse’s sin? No wonder then that the present-day biblical counseling movement (mostly sponsored by Reformed churches) is overflowing with marriage counseling cases. Week in, and week out, teaching will knock down any notions that either spouse can do any work that is not “filthy rags.” And, the only real sin is not knowing that everything you do is sin; if you don’t know that, you may find yourself in so-called church discipline. We do know this: those who will not accept this premise are deemed “unteachable.”

We have not been given a spirit of fear under the law of sin and death and its condemnation. We, instead, have been given the Holy Spirit and boldness to love God and others without any fear of condemnation.

We are to be enslaved to love—not to a fear of condemnation.


8 Responses

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  1. steeliedave said, on July 30, 2015 at 9:08 AM

    Great article, Paul.

    I think it might also be important to mention how “accountability groups” figure into this equation of “progressive sanctification.”

    I was part of one such group for a couple of years and the focus had more to do with how badly we were all running the race with very little emphasis on loving our wives or ourselves more for that matter. “Preaching the Gospel to yourself” became one of the trademark phrases of our group and the church to which I belonged. The church itself was known for being “gospel-centered.” Sadly that phrase has become more of a pejorative for me in recent memory.

    What I am beginning to conclude that “accountability groups”–I am still dubious as to the concept itself–were fundamentally flawed in that it was more of a way to “get your sin out into the light” rather than simply living faithfully what is already true of those in the Family of God. When I began to argue that we were qualitatively righteous with these people you could not even imagine the responses I would get. When I would talk about Christian liberty the knee-jerk reaction would invariably be, “Oh we can’t talk too much about liberty. We have to talk law.” In other words, they didn’t want to lose control of the congregants.

    So sad really, that those in the institutional church rarely talk about freedom and liberty of the believer. I think it is because they don’t really believe the truth.

    Just my thoughts.


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on July 30, 2015 at 10:12 AM


      I agree with what you have stated here and am hard pressed to add anything to it. More and more, I suspect that the parable of the talents speaks to this last days doctrine. Out of fear that anything we would do takes away from the master’s estate, we merely give back to him only what he gave when he returns. The talents do not indicate any merit for salvation, but flow from a belief that salvation is a finished work. The location of the parable is striking as well; amidst discussion of the last days.

      Liked by 1 person

    • steeliedave said, on July 30, 2015 at 1:51 PM

      Well, I am not certain of gathering Intel for future use. The men in our group were lay members. It is just that they believed that this was “gospel-centered” living. We were busy making God big while we kept on diminishing, if you catch my meaning. It didn’t matter if these guys were 4-pointers or 5, this was “sound doctrine.” This was the kool-aid we were asked to drink. If you weren’t definitely Reformed you were quietly dismissed. I only feel badly for my kids who have formed friendships within this circle–lol, it seemed harmless enough at the time but now I am deeply concerned for them. Their mother and I do not see this the same way anymore. It is deeply painful.


  2. steeliedave said, on July 30, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    One more thing. “A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning To See Glories of God’s Love” by Milton Vincent was pushed so hard. You can also find the “recommended reading list” at this website if you have a mind. This was my church…


  3. steeliedave said, on July 30, 2015 at 5:35 PM

    I was publicly excommunicated. It just happened to occur with long-term unemployment and a seriously deep depressive episode in addition to a year of counseling (where it was reinforced that I was really messed up). I was “shunned” in public, and later, under my own warped sense of wanting to be in and not out, I repented. I found out later that there are multiple levels of repentance: you have your basic “repentance”, then there is “true repentance,” which I believe only the elect get, and finally, “deep repentance” where the navel-gazing is so intense that one begins to see how truly sinful his/her sin is!

    I did challenge their assumptions as well. I engaged in some debate with a couple of people. One of them just happened to be a pastor leading a team of people on a church plant–to which we were invited after my “repentance” (And this was the most deeply painful period of all, btw)–and we felt like we wanted to go because that was the entire reason we moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin.

    We originally met to discuss how we could live our lives better for our wives and children–something that I was so ready to do. We met a couple of times but the discussion turned to doctrine quickly when I told him that I didn’t necessarily hold to the doctrine of Original Sin.–that really the bible doesn’t really go any further than saying that “all have sinned” and that we should keep our discussion right there, not on some philosophical speculation about our being. Of course our discourse became heated as well as predictable. I returned home after the meeting and told my wife we would be forbidden to go on the plant. She didn’t believe me. We had more discussions, went over their doctrinal statement and asked if there wasn’t somewhere we could help. They declined saying, that they didn’t want us teaching their children who were so impressionable this unorthodox viewpoint. At that point I knew I was done. We got an email about a week later–not even a face to face meeting! In fact, the day of the launch–when the church gathered to wish them well, the lead pastor preached on how important it was to guard this sacred trust that he had been given. I was sick for a couple days afterward.

    My life was never the same afterward. There is a lot of pain still there, if you couldn’t tell. But it has been a hopeful journey as I have been deprogramming from all my “firmly held convictions” when I began to see that their basis was in Platonic philosophy, with smatterings of Scripture to add flavor.

    Again, I want to thank you guys for sticking your neck out against this tide of double-speak. Cuz when they say “gospel” what they really mean is the Gospel According to John-Calvin–“ahem,” I mean a “bibllically robust presentation of the truth” (tongue is firmly in my cheek).


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on July 30, 2015 at 10:03 PM

      Tomorrow night, we get into the meat of their gospel: theses 15-18. It has never changed. Like always, the authentic article will die a social death, but I really think that this time they are done. I think there is going to be a massive exodus, and I think those people are going to need a place to go. For one thing, the problem with justification by faith is simple theological math that people can understand. That’s a problem for them. BTW, again, feel free to come to the conference and discuss these things face to face with like minded people. it looks like we can make it happen if you are interested as I have received emails from our associates in regard to the possibility. People will be present who have gone through exactly what you have gone through. My email is


    • steeliedave said, on July 31, 2015 at 9:33 AM

      Pearl, it was. But there was something beautiful about it because it really shook loose all of the baggage I had been carrying in my eternal quest to find meaning. It hurt like hell, if you’ll pardon me, but it was deeply liberating because it brought me into deeper contact with the Spirit because I realize (speaking of justification now) that the Trinity really deeply liked me. Something passed from my head into my heart for the first time ever.

      I realized that I really had been worshiping false idols, or a false construct of God, and when that idol was exposed for what it was, my anger dissolved along with that god I worshipped. I started to question all of my assumptions about life and the “convictions” I held. My relationships became very messy in a healthy way, because the facade was gone. I was freer than I have ever been. And now it is a process of continual, deepening health. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.


      • steeliedave said, on July 31, 2015 at 12:07 PM

        Your last couple of statements are powerful and challenging to me, Pearl. I don’t know that I disagree with you. I have pondered that myself but I have real difficulty landing there just now because my kids are there too. There is a lot of my story about the end of my marriage of almost twenty years but that is for propriety sale and my desire to not involve people in my world. Additionally I have had to really move away from being able to accurately assess where my wife is. She loves Jesus. Is devoted to Him (although I believe her vision of Christ is really convoluted at this point). At this point my only recourse is that God would get her out of that situation. I have no influence there anymore.


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