11 September 2007

Temptation: a key element is...

by Dan Phillips

(We could do a couple of dozen posts under this title. This is one of them.)

Our Men's Fellowship is working its way through Taylor and Kapic's edition of John Owen's Overcoming Sin and Temptation. I'm a huge Owen fan, but I'd say I've found the contents of varying value. But what's good is awfully good, and makes the whole worthwhile.

Having said all that, this statement particularly stood out to me:
"Hiding of ends and designs is the principal property of deceit"
(John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor [Crossway Books: 2006], p. 297)
What Owen says is more profound than it might initially appear. For one thing, it rests on the assumption that God's way really, truly is best. Any contrary case, therefore, must rest on deception.

Have you really gotten your arms around that concept, just for starters? "This God--his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true" (2 Samuel 22:31a) Or has Hollywood (or Eden, for that matter) convinced you deep down inside that sometimes God is too narrow and traditional, that sometimes it really is for the best to "burst their bonds asunder"? Have you really accepted that you will never, ever have a better idea than God's revealed will?

More specifically, this made me think of something I've noticed throughout Proverbs. Again and again, Solomon takes something initially appealing, and says, "Now wait, don't look away just yet, Bunky. I want you to see what this leads to." And then he ruthlessly and relentlessly tears the misty, gauzy mask off of the tempting path. As it were, he grabs us by the scruff of the neck, and says, "Now you look. Keep looking! Now, do you see what happens?"

I call this the "Consider the end" theme in Proverbs.

In doing this, Solomon is laboring to counter that favorite tool of temptation. Start looking for this theme, and you'll see it all over the book. Just to single out a few f'rinstances:
  1. They seem like a fun, active group of kids, don't they? And they want you! It would be great to "belong," wouldn't it? Ah, yes, but consider the end: how a violent life leads to a violent end (Proverbs 1:10-19)
  2. My, that young thing's hot! And she talks so sweet; really makes you feel like a man, doesn't she? Ah, yes, but consider the end: how going after her invites ruin and waste to your character and life, and humiliation before those who did stick with the way of wisdom (Proverbs 5).
  3. Bed is so inviting, isn't it? All dark and warm and quiet; not the hassle and hustle and bustle that you know lurks Out There. Just a few more minutes won't hurt... and a few more.... Ah, yes, but consider the end: how a life of leisure leads to loser's end (Proverbs 6:6-11).
  4. Boy, that jerk really has it coming to him, doesn't he? And you know just what to say, to hit his personal bull's-eye; and it would feel so satisfying! Ah, yes, but consider the end: how quickly a warm situation can be escalated to a shooting war (Proverbs 15:1).
  5. Fun computer game, huh? Next time, you can raise your score 50 points! Man, you could do this forever, couldn't you? Ah, yes, but consider the end: can you make a living, and feed a family, doing this (Proverbs 28:19)?
  6. It's so hot, and you're so tired. You can just let that chore go. Probably something good on TV, isn't there? And something after that. Ah, yes, but consider the end: how taking the easy way now makes the way much harder in the future (Proverbs 15:19).
  7. That guy keeps beating you over the head with the Bible. You hate that! Besides, you don't want that kind of legalistic, book-religion. You don't worship a book, right? You want a real spirituality. You find prayer much more fulfilling. Ah, yes, but consider the end: how you shutting your ears to God's Word today, means that God will shut His ear to your repulsive, self-worshiping, idolatrous prayer tomorrow (Proverbs 28:9).
Sin never presents itself to us in all its repugnant, pustulent hideousness. How would that be tempting? No, it sells itself as harmless at worst, desirable and delightful at best. The knife is always hidden behind the back.

The way of wisdom is to consider the end of this temptation. Relentlessly and mercilessly go beyond the pleasing exterior. If you respond to this enticement, what comes next? And then what? And what after that?

Force yourself to see how the lingering look can lead to a flirtation; the flirtation to emotional involvement; the emotional involvement to physical involvement; the physical involvement to the shaming of the name of God, the heartbroken betrayal of every loved one, the destruction of character, to ruin and shame and misery. Connect the dots.

And then?

If you shrink from the destination, don't take the turnoff.

PS — say, this could be a companion-piece to my recent post on Christian dating, couldn't it?

Dan Phillips's signature


Mike Riccardi said...

This is two solid shots in a row here, Dan. I find these types of posts to be especially ministerial.

I really think this is where the church really becomes the church -- shepherd to sheep but also sheep to sheep. We need to be confronting sin in our lives and each other's lives.

I always appreciate your guys' ministry in exposing error in doctrine. But it's easy for me to issue a hearty "Amen," or even chime in to stand up against the error, while neglecting to live it out in my own life. I think of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9, how he says he beats his body to bring it under subjection, so that after preaching to others, he won't find himself disqualified for the prize. Similarly, I was listening to Mark Dever's opening address at T4G '06, in which he said most of us would rather engage in a debate about the sufficiency of Scripture than experience that sufficiency in meditation and devotion. The pleasing living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:2) involves not only making doctrinal affirmations verbally, but making them actively in the application to and 'living out' of those doctrines in my life.

So thanks, Dan, for this exhortation to watch our lives by 'considering the end,' as you say.

Daryl said...

Thanks for this Dan,

I've recently been reminded that I so often prefer to debate or consider doctrine at the expense sometimes of spending time examining what kind of a life God call us to. Somehow it's easier when it's not so personal.

This one hits close, and so convicts me to live a life worthy of Him.

DJP said...

Both of you, in turn, have exhorted me, and I thank you.

David Rudd said...

Fun computer game(er...BLOG), huh? Next time, you can raise your score (er...COMMENTS,) 50 points! Man, you could do this forever, couldn't you? Ah, yes, but consider the end: can you make a living, and feed a family, doing this?


this is really a great post, dan. if you were just writing this kind of stuff (the proverbs) somewhere, i'd buy a subscription.

donsands said...

The devil, the world, and our flesh are so relentless, especially the flesh.

Thanks for the good words. They are helpful.

Lord help me to consider the end of every tempting desire that enters my heart.
For without Your help Lord, I'm undone.

James Scott Bell said...

Let me join the chorus of hearty Amens for this piece, Dan.

DJP said...

Rudd, that's NOT FUNNY!!


Anonymous said...

"Hiding of ends and designs is the principal property of deceit"

Ouch. This exhortation hits where it hurts. As I sit here I feel the weight of the deceptions I employ to hide my "private sins." Thanks, Dan, for the thoughtful admonishment of the illuminating light of the Word.

Regarding "considering the ends", my close friend and pastor often speaks of men needing to take their lustful thoughts all the way to the logical end. To the part where you are having to look your wife in the face and tell her what you've done, where you are trying to explain to your kids why their mom doesn't want you to live with them anymore, or in the case of those in vocational ministry, coming before your congregation and explaining why you no longer are qualified to be their shepherd.

The evil one's trickery always involves shrouding the harsh results of our unbelieving treachery with thick clouds of wicked optimism.

DJP said...

That's exactly right, Garet; that is exactly the sort of implication I see in this, and application of it.

I think it was Owen who said that every temptation desires to "grow up to be" a full-blown sin. Every lustful look wants to grow up to be fornication, or adultery; every covetous thought wants to "grow up" to be theft; every hateful thought, to be murder.

DJP said...

Serious thing, this Christian living business. Definitely not for sissies.

Problem is: we all have some "sissy" in us, every last one of us, when it comes to mortifying our own darling sins.

David Kyle said...

Again, great post! Thanks for pointing out our constant need to "consider the end". That however, is the difficult part. It amazes me how we(I) will look away from the end result of following temptation to its fruition, sin.

Your post highlights the absolute necessity to keep God's Word in our hearts and on the front burner of our minds to prevent us(me) from looking away at sin's inevitable end.


Anonymous said...

DJP said:

"every temptation desires to "grow up to be" a full-blown sin"...


"Every lustful look wants to grow up to be fornication, or adultery"...

Every lustful look IS adultery (of the heart).

"The Law was given to pinpoint sin, to define it, to bring it out of its hiding-place and to show its exceeding sinful
character...nothing so shows the
exceeding sinfulness of sin as the Law itself does; and once a man has seen the real meaning of the Law he sees the foulness, the vileness of his own nature.
The Law was never given to save man, but it was given as a "school-master" to bring him to the Savior. The whole object and purpose of the Law is to show
man that he can never save himself. Once he has understood the Law and its spiritual meaning and content he knows that he cannot keep it. He is undone…what is the summary of the Law? It is: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind, and all thy strength; and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Has anyone done that and so
kept the Law? No, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That is what the Law says. It shows us our utter helplessness and hopelessness, and
thereby it becomes "our
schoolmaster to lead us to Christ," the only One Who
by the grace of God can save us, and deliver us, and reconcile us to God, and make us safe for all eternity. Paul glories in the Gospel which proclaims that
"the just shall live by faith," because "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight, because by the law is the knowledge of sin."


DJP said...

So, you think my sense was unclear because I didn't say "adultery involving your actual physical flesh and blood body and the actual physical flesh and blood body of another actual physical flesh and blood living human being"?

Mike Riccardi said...

Dan, that original quote from Owen was in "Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers" at the end of Chapter 6. I just finished leading a small group study through the book. Here it is:

Rise mightily against the first actings of thy distemper, its first conceptions; suffer it not to get the least ground. Do not say, 'Thus far it shall go, and no farther.' If it have allowance for one step, it will take another. It is impossible to fix bounds to sin. It is like water in a channel, — if it once break out, it will have its course. Its not acting is easier to be compassed than its bounding. Therefore doth James give that gradation and process of lust, chap. i. 14, 15, that we may stop at the entrance. Dost thou find thy corruption to begin to entangle thy thoughts? rise up with all thy strength against it, with no less indignation than if it had fully accomplished what it aims at. Consider what an unclean thought would have; it would have thee roll thyself in folly and filth. Ask envy what it would have; — murder and destruction is at the end of it. Set thyself against it with no less vigour than if it had utterly debased thee to wickedness. Without this course thou wilt not prevail. As sin gets ground in the affections to delight in, it gets also upon the understanding to slight it.

Tom Gee said...

Great post, Dan!

You (and the other Pyros) are the reason I don't post much on my blog. I'm too busy reading your articles and examining my life and doctrine!

Was it Piper who described sin as "sugar-coated misery"? A phrase that has stuck long in my head.


Mike Riccardi said...

And another time, in the middle of chapter 2 (this probably was the one you were thinking of):

Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head. Men may come to that, that sin may not be heard speaking a scandalous word in their hearts, — that is, provoking to any great sin with scandal in its mouth; but yet every rise of lust, might it have its course, would come to the height of villany: it is like the grave, that is never satisfied.

Anonymous said...

I am saying there is no difference in physical and mental (lustful thinking) adultery.

To say that one only becomes sin by growing into the other is incorrect. They are both sin from the start.

DJP said...

That second one is it, Mike — though both are gut-blows, aren't they? What can you say but Whoa, and Ouch, and God have mercy?

Mike Riccardi said...


Dan's not saying that it's not sin till it's physical. He is referring to Owen's Mortification chapter 2, where he highlights that sin is so deceitful and vile that it would have the consummation of every desire if it could.

Though they are both sins, one is the consummation of the other. Fornication, of lust; oppression, covetousness, and so on.

FX Turk said...

Dan --

I'm conducting an experiment in this post, and Riccardi just proved me right.

We do have the smartest readers in the universe.

Anonymous said...

I guess I was confused by the "growing up" and "full blown" quotes.

It seemed to imply that thinking about having an affair is not quite as bad because it hasn't quite "grown up" yet (into actually having one).

Daryl said...


While it is true that either the thought or the action will condemn you, it is patently not true that they are on the same level insofar as they affect your life in completely different ways.

You don't lose your family and life over a thought, you repent and move on. You do lose your family and life over adultery. Even Paul says this when he says in 1 Corinthians 6:17-19 :

"Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"

So while technically true, it is not really true to say that the thought nad the action are equal in God's sight.

Would to God that I could keep all my sin at the level of thought and never let it grow past that point!!

DJP said...

Riccardi would be a good Exhibit A for your thesis, Frank.

donsands said...

"is not quite as bad"

I would say it's not.

Where is my thinking wrong here?

If David would have never taken Uriah's wife, and yet struggled with coveting her, wouldn't his sin be less bad?

I suppose I could be wrong.

"Problem is: we all have some "sissy" in us, every last one of us, when it comes to mortifying our own darling sins." -Dan
That's good conviction. Need to overcome my "whimpyness" each day.

Anonymous said...

My comment was not based on the post; it was more on a comment made in the thread (you can lynch me for this later if you like). I certainly did not mean to question Dan. I was simply questioning the context of a quote he used. I simply felt it could be misleading.

Daryl said:

"it is not really true to say that the thought and the action are equal in God's sight".

I completely disagree with that statement and believe it confirms my point.

Our thoughts and actions ARE equally offensive to God. The road to spiritual maturity begins with our thought life. I believe that our thoughts are equally offensive (and equally sinful) to God. Otherwise, it would simply be a works-based belief.

This is why it is impossible to follow the law; and this is why we need a Savior.

Again, sorry to question Dan's comment. Like I said, I thought it could be misleading.

Kay said...

Oh, this cuts right through the amount of times I tell myself 'It's only a little thing'

Daryl said...


I'm not sure if you really read my post. I didn't deny that both sins condemn us equally. However, it is also true that throughtout Scripture God deals with some sins differently than others. Some he cuts you off for, some he requires a sacrifice for.

The reality is, different sins affect life differently, if we can't see that and only get stuck on the equality of sin in relation to our condemnation, we miss a lot and inevitably we end up with the "Well I've already sinned, so what's the difference now" point of view.

Does God not consider the effect our sin has on others and ourselves? I think the quote I gave from Corinthians demonstrates that he does.

Remember, we're talking pastorally here, not technically. That makes a lot of difference.

One thing you could do is ask your wife which is worse, thinking of adultery or actually committing it...

Anonymous said...


"every temptation desires to "grow up to be" a full-blown sin"...


"Every lustful look wants to grow up to be fornication, or adultery"...

This is what my comment was about. I am not talking about the effects of sin; I am talking about sin itself.

How God deals with individual sin does not discredit the fact that physical and mental sin are both equally offensive to Him. If our thoughts were not as offensive to God, I believe our conscience would not come into play until we physically followed through. The Comforter not only comes into play after the physical act; He also comes into play at the moment of thought.

My wifes reaction is irrelevant to my point (unless she is my Savior). My point is, the moment we think unrighteous thoughts we are guilty. It does not need to "grow" into anything else.

To Dans reply:

"Physical" would work if added to the second quote; not the first. This was my confusion...it had both elements of physical and mental (resulting in my confusion).

Even So... said...

Is all sin the same? No, when Jesus said that to even so much as look at a woman with lust is adultery, He wasn’t saying that you might as well go ahead and do it. You have to have the sin in your heart and mind before you do it in action, but to add the act adds more sin. See?

There's a difference in degree (seriousness), a difference in progression (how far the sin has gone), and a difference in consequences. All sin has been paid for and all sin is damning, but different sins have different temporal consequences.

People often miss the point about the consequences of sin. The simplistic notion that to make more of a deal over some sins than others is somehow wrong reveals ignorance instead of a more mature understanding of the heinousness of all sin, whatever its kind.

Daryl said...


So basically we're agreeing having now said the smae thing.

Mike Riccardi said...

I think Quoter's doing a good job in communicating that he's not talking about the effects of different sins being the same. I also think Daryl's doing a good job in communicating that he's not talking about the essential nature of sins being different in God's sight. I don't think there's much disagreement between you.

I have a question for Quoter, by which I make no insinuations about anything you're saying or whether I believe the same or different:

If a pastor looks at a woman lustfully, is he disqualified from the ministry?

Anonymous said...

I would like to apologize for allowing my confusion to hijack this thread.

I was commenting on sin itself (NOT the effects or consequences in ones life because of those sins).

Catez said...

"Hiding of ends and designs is the principal property of deceit"

I was thinkng too that this is about an eternal perspective. Sometimes the end is martyrdom (not me I mean our brothers and sisters who die for the gospel). A deceitful view calls that failure. But an eternal perspective sees that a grain of wheat falls into the ground.

Or, in other words - if we think the end design is health, wealth and prosperity - we've got idols. So reading this made me think that if we expect the end to be comfortable - that in itself is a deceit. Then the temptation is to fall off doing what is right because the end looms and is not conducive to the lifestyle to which we are accustomed.

So I would say that there come those points where it's doing what is right because it is right - whether the expected end appears appealing or not. There is a far weighter glory that is the real end, and we were designed to reflect that and live toward that end.

With that in mind I would add here that vocation is an act of worship - designed with an end in mind that our fulfilment of our temporal responsibilities foreshadows.

And those who seek to move the boundary of the church in order to achieve political ends, so that orthodoxy is considered redundant or made so nebulous that anyone referencing Jesus in a historical sense, while at the same time following doctrines completely at odds with the scriptures and not even derived from the scriptures, is considered "Christian" - this to my mind is a deceit that obscures the gospel and places a stumbling block in front of those who live by it. It is the deceit of Balaam.

We have a personal and a collective identity - expediency, power, and comfort are deceitful ends to pursue if they conflict with God's design.

Unknown said...


Very good -

Neat that this is all wrapped up in the character of God who "sees the end from the beginning" and, in terms of practice, Solomon's 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding' hits home when you consider that the Lord knows the ends of all things and that every way of deceit or sin is seen and understood by Him. But the way is narrow that leads to life and few will find it. It crushes your pride to bleeding when you relinquish your will in that regard.


Anonymous said...

Mike said:

"If a pastor looks at a woman lustfully, is he disqualified from the ministry"?

It would depend on if he cared or not.

I stated that following the law is impossible if left to ourselves (and I believe this is the point that Jesus is making in Matthew 5). As a born again Christian, my wife has become more beautiful to me because the Holy Spirit demands my attention when I look with lust at another woman. Do I still look? Occassionally; however, I would say I fall into temptation more than willingly dive into it.

If I was a minister, I would have to take a long look in the mirror and ask myself..."Am I willingly looking, or have I fallen into temptation".

I believe this difference is between being a true convert or being a false one.

Mike Riccardi said...

Is it not sin if your looking is only "falling into temptation"?

Mike Riccardi said...

The command is that the pastor be a one-woman man, which is violated when you commit adultery. No disagreement there, right?

According to what you've been saying, a man commits adultery when he looks at a woman lustfully. This is indeed per Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

So then I ask if a pastor looks at a woman lustfully, is he disqualified from the ministry. I'm not asking if he's a Christian or not, just if he's disqualified, as he is no longer a one-woman man.

Daryl said...

If looking lustfully on a woman disqualifies a man from ministry...then we have no legitimate pastors...anywhere...

Daryl said...

Further to that, I would suggest that EVERY man struggles with willingly looking lustfully at a woman.

Which is why Dan's post is so good and necessary.

Mike Riccardi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Riccardi said...

And there's my point, Daryl, which you agree with. Though we understand Jesus' words being literal and authoritative about lust being adultery of the heart, we do indeed understand a difference between the nature of the two manifestations of the same sin. That is, we understand that if we think that a pastor isn't disqualified for looking at a woman lustfully.

I'd just like to know if quoter thinks that.

Daryl said...

I read you right then, Mike. For the record, I figured that was what you were after, it never occurred to me that you were implying "yes" to your question.

Excellent question to pinpoint the distinction, by the way.

Stefan Ewing said...

Convicting stuff. But who's deceiving whom? Sin deceives us—that much is clear (maybe I missed that point). We may try to deceive God, but how utterly pathetic that is, since He knows all.

Nothing reminds me more of what a sinner I am than when I sin, knowing full well that I am doing it to God's face, since He knows everything I do (and anticipated it before the neurons even fired in my brain).

Man, how I struggle with this. I pray that I'm not the first person in history who's been seduced by the doctrine of assurance of salvation to think, "This one time will be okay." Satan can use even the most noble truths of God's relationship to humanity, and turn them against Him and us.

And how do we repent? Since the Levitical sacrifices are a thing of a past and all our sins paid for by Christ on the Cross, what can we do, except try in our pathetic, measly way to emulate David in Psalm 51,* and await the Lord's chastisement to give us the broken and contrite heart we want to have but lack?

*Emulate him in that Psalm, not in the particular sins he committed that brought him to that point!

And lest this thread be only about one kind of sin, let us remind ourselves of all the manifold kinds of sinful behaviour Dan enumerated in the original post.

On a lighter note, I would like to see the Scriptural attestation for the name "Bunky," chapter and verse.

Stefan Ewing said...

By the way, I love that you guys dwell so much on the riches of the Old Testament.

(After all, without it, we wouldn't have had a New Testament proclaiming the Christ promised and foretold in the Old Testament.)

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for being a little confused (again). I will assume you believe Matthew 5:28 to be true. That lust is indeed a sinful act. I will also assume that you are not asking me to tell you that I believe we should have a bunch of one-eyed preachers in the pulpit. Or are you?

If so, than I believe we are going more off track. I feel it is irrelevant to my original comment and is more of a question about forgiveness and less about sin.

The answer is no, I don't believe they are disqualified.

If a pastor acts out on his lust-filled thoughts, should he still be a pastor?

While one may be more visually apparent...are they not both equally offensive to God?

I am simply stating that sin is sin. Disobedience is disobedience. Offensive is offensive. Thinking unrighteously is just as bad as acting unrighteously. No?

I completely understand the points being made, I just don't think they are relevant to my original comment; which in return, was not relevant to the original post (just a comment made within the thread).

Daryl said...


To try and follow your original thought I'll offer this...

It is true that lust will condemn you just as quickly as adultery.

It is true that the law is intended to point us to Christ.

It is true that the just shall live by faith.

However, it is also true that the law is our rule of life.

It is also true that the consequences of adultery are far greater than that of lust and so, in that way, they are not even remotely equivalent.

It is also true that we ought to stop our sin at its inception (at the thought level) and not go further with it because "the end therof is death".

We dare not preach ONLY that the law is intended to drive us to Christ (although it is...) otherwise the risk is anti-nomianism. When Paul met that arguement he said (my paraphrase) "that makes no sense!! Of course we don't ignore the law"

So the long and short of it is that, while lust is sin, we do well to cut it off there and go no further. Perhaps we all read you wrong but your original post seemed to imply that there is no benefit in stopping there because sin is sin.

While acknowledging that all sin condemns, there are greater and lesser sins. One thing does lead to another.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Daryl said:

"While acknowledging that all sin condemns, there are greater and lesser sins. One thing does lead to another".

I am asking this as a man maturing in faith...is sin not sin?

Does sin = disobedience towards God.

The point being made by most is that there are diferent (worldly) effects and circumstances that accompany sin. I understand this fact! But sin (by itself) is sin. Yes?

Daryl said:

"Perhaps we all read you wrong but your original post seemed to imply that there is no benefit in stopping there because sin is sin".

I am not talking about the benefit of having the Holy Spirit's guidance to help us from acting out our thoughts. I am saying that the thought is just as offensive as the act.

Are our thoughts not part of the rebirth?

Daryl said...


Short answer: Absolutely, our thoughts are part of our re-birth and absolutely sin is sin.

Dan wasn't denying that.

FX Turk said...

No question: all sin is sin.

The problem is whether all sins are identical or of the same ecclesiastical or temporal consequence.

There is a difference between indulging in some mental idea which you lazily allow into your mind and working out the details to make it happen in real life.

The latter is grounds for divorce; the former, if we believe Scripture, is not. That has to mean something to us as we reason this out.

DJP said...


And everybody is remembering that the post was actually about DECEIT, right? How temptation relies on deceit? How deceit hides the goals and ends of the temptation? Stuff like that?

DJP said...

...not to say that "If an angel dances on the head of a pin, is it still a Baptist angel?" isn't an interesting question.


Daryl said...

I'd submit that is it the very deceitfullness of sin that wants us to equate sinful thoughts with sinful actions...as in "you're condemned already pal, may as well go whole hog"

Stefan Ewing said...

DJP: Reformed, Particular, or General Baptist? Southern or non-Southern? Gillian or Fullerite? Landmarkian or Independent? And how many of each kind?

(This is a riff on Dan. I am in no way making light of Quoter's well-founded concerns. By God's grace alone, both Jacob and Joseph got there in the end, but we should try to be more like Joseph and less like Jacob!)

FX Turk said...


Exactly. Sorry, dude. I didn't intend to derail your pastoral exhortations. I just fell down the rabbit hole.

Mike Riccardi said...

I appreciate the admonition about getting sidetracked, Dan. I apologize. But I did develop the next comment before I came to appreciate that. So I figured I'd post it anyway. If you think it's unhelpful, I completely understand if you remove it.

Let's flesh this through one more time. I think, quoter, this has all been extremely relevant to what you said.

(And before I do, I just want to say that I appreciate quoter, and I appreciate the point he's raising. I have very similar thoughts as you do, brother, and I think this will be edifying to us all as long as you know that no one's picking on you. And by the way, I do understand, again, that you're distinguishing between sin's essential nature and its consequences. I'm not sure Daryl is seeing that you're making that distinction.)

Ok so...

1. A pastor is required to be a one-woman man.
2. Adultery disqualifies a pastor from being a one woman man.
3. Looking at a woman lustfully is adultery of the heart.
Conclusion: Looking at a woman lustfully disqualifies a pastor from being a one woman man.

If 1-3 are true, the conclusion is true. But then we have a dissension. Quoter says: The answer is no, I don't believe they are disqualified.

Now here's something interesting. I am simply stating that sin is sin. Disobedience is disobedience. Offensive is offensive. Thinking unrighteously is just as bad as acting unrighteously. No? YES! But then, why do you say the man not disqualified? He's an adulterer after all, right?

I honestly believe there can be a good answer to that question. And so quoter, if you have one I'd love to hear it.

A possible answer is that there is a fundamental difference in the nature of adultery of the heart (looking) and the physical act of adultery. Now I'm not talking about worldly consequences. As far as I see it, we've got to be talking about the nature of the sin itself.

I say that, quoter, because your original contention was that they were both the same sin. This response requires that they're not. If a certain sin is always sin, and that sin always has certain consequences, if the consequences change it must be because the nature of the sin has changed.

Put another way... If the occasion of X always yields Y, and Y is not yielded, there was never an occasion of X.

Putting a face on it... if Adultery is always sin, and the consequences of adultery are always disqualification from the pastorate and grounds for divorce, if those consequences ever not exist it must be because the sin is fundamentally different.

The reasoning follows, then, that looking at a woman lustfully (adultery of the heart) is different than physical adultery.

If you disagree, please pick apart the reasoning and not the conclusions.

DJP said...

Frank, you are always welcome and for any reason. Even your off-topic musings are worth more than many sermons... which is both a commendation of the former, and a condemnation of the latter.


James Scott Bell said...

"Look on a woman lustfully" is a poor translation that results in much confusion. It is better rendered "look on a woman TO lust for her."

IOW, a physiological reaction is not sin. It's what comes after that may be. It is only lust that has "conceived" that gives birth to sin. See James 1:15

Mike Riccardi said...

Fine observation Johnny, formerly jsb (I can't believe you changed your name. You were jsb for so long.)

Substitute every time I wrote "look on a woman lustfully" with "look on a woman to lust for her."

Not sure if you're challenging this, but all that changes is the form, and not the substance, of what I was saying.

Stefan Ewing said...

In His sermon, Jesus helped us to fundamentally understand that even the looking is tantamount to the doing. Since we are all depraved sinners but most of us have two good eyes, it seems that almost no one takes Jesus' admonition to pluck our eyes out literally. But His teaching on this does help us to at least see that even if we comply with the letter of the Law and do not commit adultery, the Lord God cares much more about the spirit of the Law—the train of thoughts that if allowed to play out, could lead to the actual act.

To put it another way, according to the strict letter of the Law, the mere act of looking is nothing at all. But God cares about what's on our hearts, as attested so many times in the Hebrew Scriptures and by our Lord and Saviour in His incarnate life. As Jesus taught over and over again, just going through the motions won't get us one step closer to salvation (not that anything we do can save us, but we can at least strive to allow the Holy Spirit to work its course and sanctify us after regeneration).

Being conscious of the fact that even our very thoughts are nothing but sinful in nature (and not just ones of lust, but of pride, greed, covetousness, and so on) and that, left to our own devices, we have utterly no hope at all, is at least moving in the right direction.

brentjthomas said...

Good post and comments. A possibly silly question: What is the meaning of that pictured hand signing the letter "R"? (R in American Sign Language).

DJP said...

Are you joking?

bassicallymike said...

Was it Martin Luther who said,"You can't keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair"?.

Daryl said...

Mike said (earlier)

'I do understand, again, that you're distinguishing between sin's essential nature and its consequences. I'm not sure Daryl is seeing that you're making that distinction.)"

You're right Mike. I don't think I ever caught that. My mistake. (I should read more closely).

Anonymous said...

Mike said:

"I have very similar thoughts as you do, brother, and I think this will be edifying to us all as long as you know that no one's picking on you".

No offense taken friend! I am more than willing to listen to those the Lord may be using to help in my developing.

That being said, I completely understand the point you are trying to relay to me.

You discredited my original comment to your question by saying it wasn't about being a Christian or non-Christian. This is the only way I know how to answer the question. I still believe the situation you provided is more a matter of forgiveness and less about sin. Sin is still sin!

I used the illustration of willingly sinning and falling into temptation because I find this to be a fair example for the pastor. One would indicate his thoughts are wicked (Proverbs 15:26 NKJV)and the other would indicate his wicked thoughts are forgiven.

You said:

"The reasoning follows, then, that looking at a woman lustfully (adultery of the heart) is different than physical adultery".

Who is it different for? The believer or non-believer? Does God grade on the curve? This is why I feel your question about the Pastor is more about forgiveness and less about sin. Could we not use Paul as an example?

I feel it is more about true and false conversion.

Anonymous said...

I would like to clarify that I do not believe that following the law saves me. It just helped me realize I wasn't! My conscience became my ally. I believe the law & gospel should go hand in hand.

I mention it because I'm sure there are people who click over here just to find something they can complain about on their own blogs. The last thing I want to do is give them "He's a Pharisee" or TeamPyro creates Pharisee' ammunition!

Daryl said...

6806PODLQuoter said:

"Who is it different for? The believer or non-believer? Does God grade on the curve? This is why I feel your question about the Pastor is more about forgiveness and less about sin. Could we not use Paul as an example?

I feel it is more about true and false conversion."

I'm a little unclear as to what you're after here, Quoter. You seems to be equating the equality of sin as regards our standing before God with the equality of sin in practical everyday assessments of one's life.

The difficulty with your arguement is that you're either taking it too far or not far enough depending on the angle.

As far as our standing before God goes, giving $800 dollars to your church's missions fund or helping the neighbour lady cut her grass, without absolutely pure motives is not different than commiting adultery or mass murder. Sin is sin.

However, the Bible still distinguishes between "big sin" and "little sin". Nathan the prophet didn't show up to condemn David for wishing her had gotten a bigger piece of pie for dinner than what Jonathan got, yet that is still sin. He did show up to condemn his adultery. Collecting wood on the Sabbath in the OT could be punishable by death. Fornicating with the neighbour girl got you married, not killed.

So yes, in a way, God does grade sin on a curve.

Part of the difficulty is in understanding why we are condemned. We are initially condemned for Adam's sin, the rest is window dressing. So we HAVE to measure degrees of sin based on both the impact on people around us, and the impact we make on God's reputation in the world.

As far as the believer/non-believer distinction, there really isn't one. Sin and it's consequences apply equally to both, it's just that our debt has been paid.

Same goes for forgiveness, we're required to forgive, period, regardless of the sin. But some sin does disqualify us for things that other sin doesn't.

Like I said before, we have to distinguish between the technical equality of sin and the practical non-equality of sin.

Anonymous said...

All of the comments go back to the effects, circumstances and/or consequences.

The ONLY thing I was confused about was whether the given quote suggested that lust was not a sin unless it grew into physical adultrey.

Everyone here has confirmed that lust is indeed a sin (period).

Meaning, if I was to die without Jesus Christ as my Savior, and lived a life with no physical disobedience to the law, I would still be judged for my disbelief AND my wicked THOUGHTS.

I completely understand that sin can grow into bigger sin resulting in different levels of consequence.

I was thinking about the person who is on the outside looking in. Someone who may think, "Yea, I look with lust. Who hasn't looked at someone and lusted after them? That's not a sin!"

For me, recognizing that my thoughts were offensive was life changing and definitely a step in the right direction.

I'm sorry for all the confusion.

Daryl said...


No worries. The step your talking about is one that lots of people never make or make too late. (It's also a step that's pretty easy to un-make if we're not vigilant)

I've enjoyed the back-and-forth.


Anonymous said...

Their are never any worries when you are surrounded by people who help us grow. In the right direction that is! =)

No worries at all my friend!

brentjthomas said...

Yes, I was joking about the letter R in sign language. I was missing Purgatorio1, I guess. One of my paintings, which used sign language, was critiqued there, and I thought I'd try out the same kind of comment, as was used by others there, here. A linguistics experiment. Mea maxima culpa. Sorry.

brentjthomas said...

I could not resist the temptation to jest.

dec said...

I'm sorry too.

(group hug)

brentjthomas said...

I took the time this morning to slowly re-read this sermon by Dan Phillips today, and found it beneficial and enriching to do so. Solid. Always good material to contemplate and put into action.
With regard to Proverbs, John Michael Talbot, a Franciscan, has a lovely contemplative recording, a CD called "Wisdom", to which I enjoy listening, (though I am a Baptist); he uses for lyrics Proverbs,and the apocryphal books Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus. In his liner notes Talbot mentions that those specific apocryphal books should be considered "as truly credible, if not outright cannonical." That seems a bold statement.
You Pyromaniacs are trustworthy scholors. What do you think of Talbot's comment?