Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin
Originally published on July 28, 2015
Got sin? You do if you are a Protestant, and you have 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, duh, 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.”
A 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.