30 March 2009

Ways to avoid dealing with your sin

by Dan Phillips

Christianity can be deucedly inconvenient and confrontive.

It starts out with us being brought face to face with our sin (see Romans 1:18 - 3:20, for instance). We are forced to accept that we're guilty, we have no one to blame but ourselves, and we deserve punishment. More, we can't fix the problem; we have to be rescued. Still more, our rescue can't be on our terms, has to be on God's terms; what is required of us is unconditional surrender and submission to One who calls Himself Lord, and actually means it (cf. Luke 6:46).

Then that same God to whom we've bowed the knee sends us off necessarily to local fellowships, where we will be under the care of at least one pastor, and the rest of the fellowship. Both are tasked by God, specifically, to put pressure on us when we wander off into sin. The pastor is to reprove, rebuke and exhort us Biblically (2 Timothy 4:2). So are our fellow-Christians (Hebrews 3:12-13). Ideally, it should start and end privately (Matthew 18:15-20). But if the sin was a public leader's public sin, it may start (and perhaps must end) publicly (Galatians 2:11ff.; 1 Timothy 5:20).

So we start off with this notion in mind: sin is bad. (Deep concept, eh? Maybe I'll write just on that, sometime.) It kills, it destroys, it defiles; it is attempted Deicide. We want none of it. We come to Jesus to be saved from sin. Jesus gives Himself to save us from sin, He gives His Spirit to steer us from sin, He gives His Word to guard us from sin, and He gives us pastors and brothers to administer needed rebuke and reproof to part us from sin.

Seems clear enough, no? Well, evidently no. Because in evanjellybeanicalism, we've developed a number of potent ways to ward off not sin, butanyone who tries to call us to repentance from sin.

Here are just four. It is by no means an exhaustive list. You will be able to suggest more:
  1. The "grace" card. This is antinomianism, whether nascent or in full-bloom. What? How dare I? Don't I believe in grace? Brother, hear me: I not only believe in grace, I have staked my eternal destiny on the grace of God in Christ. But Biblical grace is how God freely saves me FROM sin's guilt and power (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14). The moment you adduce grace as if it were how God makes it "okay" for me to live under sin's power without feeling guilt, you're no evangelical, you're at best dangerously close to being an antinomian, and you're having crumpets and tea with a virulent heresy (cf. Jude 1:4).
  2. The "judge not" card. This may be the laziest and silliest. Jesus says "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1), then immediately tells us how to bring others' sins to their attention (i.e. not hypocritically, vv. 3-5); then tells us not to give holy things to pigs and dogs (v. 6). So we have to judge enough to identify sin, pigs, and dogs. What mustn't we do? We mustn't judge others' hearts, which we can't see (Proverbs 14:10; 20:27; Jeremiah 17:9; 1 Corinthians 2:11). In a very similar vein, there is the...
  3. "Yeah... but you did it with the wrong attitude." As a response to a truthful confrontation, this is barely more contentful than "Oh yeah?" and "So's your old man." It's more along the lines of, "Oh, well, er... hey, look! A comet!" — except phrased as an accusation. Oddly, the "wrong attitude" set is very judgmental when it comes to mind-reading and heart-examining anyone who dares to try to obey Jesus' command to discern (Matthew 7:3-6) and rebuke (Luke 17:3). At its worst, it evolves into...
  4. Three magic words: "You're not loving." Ahh yes, consider the incandescent splendor of The Love Card™. Do you tell me (truthfully!) that I'm breaking the first, second, third, fifth, and whatever-else commandments? Oh yeah? Well, it doesn't matter, because... you're not loving! So there! Now I don't have to deal with my sin! I'm a victim, you're Torquemada! The beauties of this pathetic, craven dodge are literally countless. Behold, and marvel:
  • Hey, presto! The subject is changed! Mission Accomplished! We're not talking about my (actual) sin anymore, we're all about your (alleged) lovelessness in pointing it out! It's... er... Martinelli time!
  • It's like calling someone a "racist": you are in sin, but your brother is now The Accused, he's assumed guilty, and the more he tries to defend himself, the worse he looks.
  • The bar remains unreachable, and can be raised world without end. "I think you missed this... what about that?... I still think you're...."
  • Unlike your sin, this standard is so vast and borderless that you can use it and re-use until everyone loses interest or dies. Who ever loves enough — purely enough, selflessly enough, heartily enough? Suppose the poor chap works diligently on his attitude of love three or four times; then you get to say, "Why do you keep harping on this? I think you have issues!" It's sheer genius, of a dark sort.
  • Here's the kicker: you (or the person whose sin you're enabling) are the ones in sin, but now you look holy and pious, and the other guy looks bad!
  • You can simply run out the clock until everyone wearies of the subject, and the person who brought it up (to honor Christ with believing obedience, guard the holy name of God, and do you good) just looks bad.
  • And, hey! You get to keep your sin! Because evanjellybeans just don't care about God-shaming, sinner-hardening, testimony-ruining, soul-destroying, kill-Christ sin anymore!
As one has somewhere said, "My brothers, these things ought not to be so."

Yes, the rebuker should do his task humbly and lovingly. Without doubt. But do it he must. It is, after all, what Jesus would do, and did do, and does do (Revelation 3:19).

And we must also remember Scripture has a good deal of wisdom for the rebuked, as well. Here's a mere smattering:
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it (Psalm 141:5a)

If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you (Proverbs 1:23)

...reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning (Proverbs 9:8b-9)

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,
but he who rejects reproof leads others astray (Proverbs 10:17)

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

but he who hates reproof is stupid (Proverbs 12:1)

There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way;
whoever hates reproof will die (Proverbs 15:10)

Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence (Proverbs 15:32)
In closing. The story is told of President Calvin "Silent Cal" Coolidge returning from a church service.
"What did the pastor preach about," his wife is said to have asked.

"Sin," the taciturn president responded.

"What did he say?"

"He was against it."
Would Coolidge find such unambiguous clarity in evangelical pulpits — or congregations, or blogs — today?

One wonders.

Dan Phillips's signature


Anonymous said...

Great post this morning and an even better reminder seeing as though it is a Monday!

I have been on the giving and receiving end of tough love. When we finally get to the point where it can be given/received with humility it can be a beautiful thing!

J♥Yce Burrows said...

Knocks us all to our knees. Thank you, Dan.

~Mark said...

Great post! I need just a wee bit o' clarification though on this:

It's like calling someone a "racist": you are in sin, but your brother is now The Accused, he's assumed guilty, and the more he tries to defend himself, the worse he looks.

Is that when someone calls racism in response to being rebuked for sin? That's a common and vile tactic these days because it not only deflects the rebuke it perpetuates racism at the hand of the person making the accusation!

DJP said...

Good point, Mark. No, I just meant the accusation itself, period. The Accusation carries its own condemnation.

Though I do have experience with the latter.

donsands said...

"What? How dare I? Don't I believe in grace?"

Yep. That has been the way I have seen sinners try to manipulate the elders.

"Where's the grace brother? I guess we can't all be as righteous as you? You're not God!"

It is difficult to confront some people. Very hard indeed. Being an elder is not for the timid.

"Yes, the rebuker should do his task humbly and lovingly. Without doubt. But do it he must."

Good word. Good post. Thanks.

Hayden said...


Here is another reason that I find people unwilling to confront sin:

Fear of Man more than Fear of God

Excellent post by the way

~Mark said...

Good point, Mark. No, I just meant the accusation itself, period. The Accusation carries its own condemnation.

Oh, I get it. I'd have clearly understood it sooner but I'm up earlier than usual today. ;)

Chris said...

Thank You, Dan! Well put, and so necessary to hear in our current climate. Interestingly, I woke up thinking about the privilege we have as believers to be accountable to one-another after spending four hours yesterday in a new members class at our church. The three-pronged subject of accountability, restoration, and discipline were covered at length, and for good reason, in light of so many churches that are guilty of proudly displaying the four categories you have identified on this post.

DJP said...

Thanks Chris. I have hopes that this post will be useful to both sides of the pulpit — you know, if people don't think I was too graceless, judgmental, loveless, or wrote it with a bad attitude.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding and perfectly balanced post, Dan. This behavior is positively pandemic in the Church today and is taught first semester at Goat U.

Anonymous said...

p.s. I would add that a rebuke is most likely to feel less than loving at the time, no matter how carefully delivered.

Maybe a class in receiving rebukes is called for?

DJP said...

That's probably not a bad idea, EM. Or maybe a class in sin. That's what I think we're losing sight of. I think of the old Puritan expression, "your darling sin." We feel like just a little sin won't really hurt us.

What if we thought of sin as we think of cancer?

Brad said...

Good post, Dan.

The "attitude card" is played quite often by the hyper-sensitive and yet the hyper-sensitve exists even in Calvinistic pulpits. I can't tell you how many finger wagging pastors I've come across who are more than merely righteously indignant, but bitter that the world really does behave like the world. There's a resaon why Jesus wants us looking like we are filled with joy and really happy about the Gospel over all other things: It makes the Gospel looks credible and authetic. Joy gives proof that the hope within us is really hope and not just indigestion. There are simply too many jadded, overly sarcastic pastors in my neck-of-the-woods who have grown comfortable with public complaint, and who make the typical hearer - saved or not - suspicious about whether or not they really believe any of this stuff they're preaching.


Dave .... said...

Personal choice - after all, I chose Christ, didn't I? You saw that hand, right? I can choose to make Him lord, or not. Don't want to upset the DIY saints.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Dan. My brother had colon cancer and died at the age of 31. With cancer early detection is vital Maybe we should adopt that attitude about our sin...

Early detection can save your life.

Doug Hibbard said...

I think I remember being hit back with "Who made you the Holy Spirit?" at a few points when confronting people about sin.

Not saying I was doing the confronting lovingly or without a plank in my own eye, in retrospect. Just thought that one was a great "Get off my case" argument. There was a willingness to acknowledge the behavior as sin if shown by the Holy Spirit, but not when shown by someone else.

Leading to the question: How do expect the Spirit to speak to you? If not by the Bible, sometimes as pointed out by fellow believers, how else?

Which was a big discussion killer.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

Excellent post. You hit the nail squarely on its head.

James Hogan said...

Thank you for this great post!! I greatly appreciate it, especially because of some things I've been going through lately. Such a good reminder that we are called to be God's holy people!! Sadly, holiness seems to be one of those virtues which value has been on the decline amongst Christendom as of late. Ah that holiness would be brought back to prominence in the house of God!!

DJP said...

Doug - yep, bingo, that could have been #5.

Herding Grasshoppers said...


Well done.

At the risk of flying in the face of expository preaching, the subject of this post might ought to be a sort of "annual sermon" :0)

Especially that second (third?) paragraph, reminding us that it's the Pastor's (and elders' and church's) JOB to pressure us when we sin.



Mike Westfall said...

There's a stupid "What Color Is Your Heart" test going around on Facebook. I elected not to take it, because I already know my heart is black...

The Squirrel said...

Oh, how our pride gets in our way so very often. It's hard to hear someone say that what you are doing is sinful. It's only natural (in a 1 Corinthians 2:14 sense) to deny and deflect.

Thank you, Dan, for reminding us that we are to be led by the Spirit, and not by our own proud flesh.

The Squirrel

Stan said...

Good stuff. I like it.

Now ... how about a post on "Ways to deal with your sin" for those who would not wish to avoid it?

threegirldad said...

Hmmm. Is anyone seeing the post over at Acts 29? I read it on Saturday, but all I get now is a blank page.

Chris said...

Yes, I agree that it could be used on both sides of the pulpit. However, I do not think there is any hint of gracelessness, lovelessness,etc. here at all; if it seems so by any reader, he or she may simply (sadly) be the product of the very things/teachings you've addressed. Even if pastors read this and come to that conclusion, they, too, may be the products themselves of this upside down thinking, of which they are simply recycling.

Speaking of upside-down thinking, a very cool component of our class yesterday had to do with hearing the list of members' "rights". Naturally, in our upside-down, secular, and rights-driven society, the word "rights" suggests an image of self-serving entitlements, privileges, comphensation, etc... all aimed at giving the individual what he or she "deserves" by filling the coffer or generating comfort. Shortly into the list of "rights" members can expect to receive and exercise, it became very clear that these "rights" looked much different--they are responsibilities, actually, of which followers of the Lord Jesus should be eager to have...as privileges indeed. It all really boils down to whom it is exactly we are slaves: a. ourselves, and our sin? or b. Christ? If the latter, then our sanctifying responsibilities, as part of all of the glorious promises we have received in our salvation and future glorification, hardly seem like things of which to make complaint or evade. Before I came to Christ, in my slavery to sin, I recall I was quite eager to accept all of the discomforts associated with that life. I need to remind myself of this truth whenever I am tempted to think of my accountability to a church body anything but a privilege and a blessing!

DJP said...

Interesting, isn't it, 3GD? It was perfectly legible on Saturday.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

Two comments;
1. ''Without holiness no man shall see god''

2. No discipline, no local church
see matthew 18.

FX Turk said...

Comment #27:

I was banned @ TeamPyro for cussing, so this post doesn't apply to me.

David Kyle said...

Dan the Google cache link to the Acts 29 blog article still doesn't work.

Can you give a summary of what it said?

Phil Johnson said...

The Acts29 article was taken down, so I gather whoever posted it had second thoughts about it. Let's respect that and take it off the table for the purposes of this comment-thread.

DJP said...

Well, let me offer a different angle.

Obviously we can't discuss the contents, since it's been made unavailable. But it was available long enough to have spread around, and it is mentioned on a number of blogs (Google the title).

If the author has had second thoughts of the "I was wrong to say that" variety, removing the post is not a remedy. You get up in a crowded auditorium, shout an attack on the character of the speaker, sit down, and then some time later get up and say "Never mind" — doesn't really do it.

Rachael Starke said...

This post reminded me of the several occasions recently where my dear husband spontaneously called me to say he'd been listening to a sermon and been convicted of something and was calling to let me know how he was was repenting and going to change.

Faithful preaching + faithful husband responding to faithful preaching and the Holy Spirit's conviction = no confrontation necessary.

Rachael Starke said...

Oh, and my "favorite" repentance - avoidance strategy -

Your sin enabled/justifies/excuses/ my sin.

Aaron said...

Great post. Awfully convicting.

Rachel, that's pretty amazing.

lawrence said...

i can't believe you're judging people for telling you that you're judgmental. You're out of control...

j/k of course. Excellent post. Very insightful.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Consider for a minute how much effort in the local church (how many quiet words, counseling sessions, powerpoint bullets) are aimed simply at keeping sin at at a tolerable level (where nobody outside the church writes it up in the newspaper, and no tithing members leave in disgust).

What ought a church's "zero tolerance" policy for sin look like?

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Our pastor is doing a special series in the evening service during Lent titled "Respectable Sins."

So far he's hit pride, anger, discontent, living like there's no God.

I'm convicted.

Phil Johnson said...

DJP: "Well, let me offer a different angle."

Here's my perspective:

First, if someone wants to attack my character flaws--especially with the charge that I'm not sufficiently humble, I'm not going to protest. The Lord knows I'm not sufficiently humble, and that is why He constantly humbles me (several times daily, on average).

Anyone who wants to criticize me in general for failing to measure up to the standard Christ set for us will get no argument whatsoever from me. They are right about that. As a matter of fact, they could have said many worse things about me that are also true. I'm just thankful that they didn't.

Second, I wish the criticism of that message at the Shepherds' Conference dealt with the biblical issues I raised rather than questions about my motives.

I have yet to receive one valid critique from anyone arguing that Ephesians 5:1-5 or Titus 2:1-7 mean anything different from what I said. Not one person has even tried to argue from Scripture that the current evangelical obsession with explicit sex and vile language is valid on biblical grounds.

Even Driscoll's famous message at DG utterly failed to address that issue, which, to my mind, is the central issue his critics have tried to raise with him.

So I don't want to play into the hands of those who want to divert the whole discussion into an argument about who is more humble.

Let's just stipulate that if I had been holding myself up as a model of humilty and lovingkindness and criticizing Mark Driscoll for his lack thereof (Note, however: those are issues I never even alluded to obliquely in my message), that would indeed be shameful on my part.

The issues I actually raised, however, have to do with sexual innuendo, sexually-oriented humor, sexually-explicit talk, and other forms of serial impropriety in the pulpit. Those things, I have insisted, are not "gray areas" or (as many people have suggested) indifferent matters. They are expressly forbidden by Scripture.

Anyone who wants to argue against that, please: Blog away, twitter away, or e-mail me.

That's the only point I'm interested in arguing about. I'll grant practically every other criticism about my style or attitude. (I hate hearing m,e preach, too, so I have the utmost sympathy by those who are turned off by the way I look and sound.)

So criticisms of me personally, my motives, my attitude, or my "tone" don't need any defense from me or from my friends. Please, just let the critics say things like that. I do try to take such criticisms to heart, and I strive to do better.

Now that that's settled, let's move on. Dan's post is excellent (as usual), and it's applicable to many more issues than that one conflict.

DJP said...


But does you being big about people ripping into you mean that we who care about you have to be big about it?

Because I'm not so much down with that. Turning my cheek is one thing. Watching someone wailing away on the cheek (character) of someone I love and respect? Totally different equation.


Phil Johnson said...

Yes. We need to learn humility together.

Remember the episode with Shimei in the OT.

DJP said...

Yeah, well, if you get to be David, don't Frank and I get to be Abishai?

Phil Johnson said...

And how, precisely, did David answer Abishai?

Dan said...

Dear pyromaniacs,

I know this is against your rules, but could you point me towards a good succint work on holiness/sanctification?

I'm currently writing a research paper for school which is supposed to defend the Keswick/Victorious Christian model of sanctification, but the more I read, the more I find myself convinced by some of its critics (Warfield, especially).

I'm asking your advice for three reasons:
1) I occasionally visit the site and appreciate the discernment.
2) I've got a friend at Master's in whom I can see real spiritual growth.
3) Your site was the first hit on google when I made a typo and queried "Keswick sancitification." :)


DJP said...

Er... that page in my Bible just went blank, Phil. You know, like the post on that blog.

But I do recall what he told his son. Is that where Pec comes into this?

donsands said...

".. so I have the utmost sympathy by those who are turned off by the way I look and sound.)" -Phil

You sounded excellent on the CD series: The Unpardonable Sin.

Excellent teaching, and well spoken.

Aaron said...

Grasshoppers, Respectable Sins is a book. My men's group is currently studying it.

Phil Johnson said...

DJP: "Is that where Pec comes into this?"


I hope not. He's pretty handy with a taser.

DonSands: "You sounded excellent on the CD series: The Unpardonable Sin."

Yeah, wasn't that the series where I had laryngitis?

The Squirrel said...

Pec is "pretty handy with a taser."

You know, that could be the solution! Equip the elders with tasers...

"Now, this may offend some of yo... wha... No! Don't Tase me, bro! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaa!"

The Squirrel

Nash Equilibrium said...

This has got to be one of the most unloving articles you've ever posted, Dan.

...hey look over there! A talking dog!

Gary said...

The Squirrel - that's what I get for reading this at work. Nearly hurt myself trying not to disturb the cubicles around me.

Tom Austin said...

Since nobody was arguing with the substance of this blog post, I'm glad somebody brought up some other Inside Baseball controversy to keep the comments interesting.

Otherwise, it'd be 50 variations of "Yes, Dan." "That's right on, Dan." "Very convicting, Dan."

I think we can agree that nobody wants to see that.

The Squirrel said...

Otherwise, it'd be 50 variations of "Yes, Dan." "That's right on, Dan." "Very convicting, Dan."

I think we can agree that nobody wants to see that.

except, maybe, Dan...


Phil Johnson said...

Dan: (the one writing a paper, not DJP or any of the other Dans who frequent here):

I think you are on the right track. Go with Warfield's view. See esp. vol. 2 of his Studies in Perfectionism.

If you're REQUIRED to defend the other view, good luck (as Calvin would say). There aren't a lot of credible resources that interact with Warfield.

Pure, old-style Keswick doctrine is not easy to find nowadays. In most of the modern versions (Bob George, the radical free-gracers, etc.) the antinomianism that is more or less inherent in the view has gone to seed.

I have a couple of sermons on this subject that you might be able to find at the website that posts my sermons. I think the title was "I . . . Yet not I," or something to that effect. Google and you'll prolly find them.

Phil Johnson said...

Yup. See here and here.

donsands said...

"Yeah, wasn't that the series where I had laryngitis?"-Phil

Um, yes.

All seriousness aside, that was an excellent lesson, or lessons, and your presentation, well, you preach the Word. Thanks.

Bobby Grow said...

Well there is antinomianism, and then there is Anti-nomianism, and here.

Surely, the Hutchinson and Keswickian style of antinomianism can lead to a Pelagian style of Christian spirituality; and this group, historically can be "labeled" antinomian. But then there is also, historically, theological antinomists which was 'protesting' against the "Federal" framing of Calvinism. The framing that saw heavy continuity between the Mosaic Law and the New Covenant. This was to place folks under a trajectory of Christian spirituality that emphasized "law-keeping" (think of many of the Puritans, but not all) and looking inward to self. The result of this kind of Calvinism created an reflexive relationship, so that man first would look to self to see if he was 'doing good works', only then could he "reflexively" look to Christ --- and feel assured that He was one of the elect that Christ died for (but w/o 'good works' this man was doomed to a vicious circle of doubt and fear --- just ask William Perkins how this plays out).

Anyway, this is the kind of 'theology' that historical/theological anti-nomists were railing against. They were'nt endorsing licentious living, not at all! Instead, it was a call to live under the 'Law of Christ' instead of the 'Law of Moses' (cf. Rom. 10:4; Gal. 6:2). And I would think the Pyromaniacs would similarly protest against the Federal Calvinism that these anti-nomists were. Although the TULIP was shaped by Federal Calvinism, so I don't know.

DJP said...

And the connection you make between that and the contents of this post is...?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to read the Acts 29 article, if anyone has a copy of it.

Bobby Grow said...

DJP, you said in your original post:

Here are just four. It is by no means an exhaustive list. You will be able to suggest more:The "grace" card. This is antinomianism, whether nascent or in full-bloom. . . .[emboldening mine]

I just wanted to provide a distinction and some more context on your usage of antinomianism. I just wanted to highlight that there is more to that "label" than its connotative usage provides (the way it is typically used). And I also think that this distinction, the one I am noting, has some implications for the mini-discussion that Phil and Dan were having on the Keswick tradition.

In a broad sense, I think avoiding sin is definitely a problem . . . so I agree with the major premise of your post; but I would want to qualify "my agreement" (with you) by noting the framework that I am working out of (not Federal/TULIP Calvinism; but "Calvinism" of a different sort, a different framing). Sorry, not trying to hijack this thread or anything . . .

DJP said...

I did use the word, true.

Once, when the topic actually was antinomianism, we had quite a lengthy discussion of the word's nuances. In fact, I see you contributed to that discussion.

Phil Johnson said...


You're right. We need to walk a very thin line. It's easy to react to antinomianism by dropping into the dich on the other side, which includes all the errors of neonomianism. In my judgment, a reaction to the antinomianism that dominated post-'60s evangelicalism is precisely what has given rise to Auburn Avenue, the popularity of NT Wright, and other varieties of hyper-covenantalism.

But DJP will nail us for going off topic if we pursue that, so I'll save any more for a future thread on that topic.

Bobby Grow said...


Thanks DJP and Phil . . . you're both being unusually gentle with me; are you guys feeling okay? ;-)

And yes "hyper-Covenantalism" is certainly a problem . . . oops, I digress :-).

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

Don't go to church
Don't read the Bible
Make sure all your friends and associates are lost people.

FX Turk said...

I have finally gotten a chance to read this thread all the way through, and just to settle the matter once and for all, I am the most humble, even more humble than CJ Mahaney on NyQuil.

I am the most humble. I can prove it, and you should be ashamed for making me bring it up. Now move on to the more important issues at hand, such as, "How sinful is Twitter anyway?"

Mike Westfall said...

More humble than NyQuil???
That's certainly something to be proud of.

Stefan Ewing said...


Of course, another way of avoiding dealing with one's sins is outright denying that such-and-such is a sin.

And Frank:

You take the cake, man. "More humble than C.J. Mahaney on NyQuil." "How sinful is Twitter anyway?" Priceless.

Bobby Grow said...

Since this thread is about "avoiding sin," let me avoid that by apologizing for the tone I took on that thread on Antinomian that DJP links to. I let my face get in front of my heart (for Christ); and engaged in fleshyly antics in that thread. So I just want to ask for forgiveness, for my general attitude in that meta.

Note to self: read Proverbs (which I just did again yesterday, and my wounds are still festering) before hitting the Publish Your Comment button.

The Squirrel said...

"How sinful is Twitter anyway?"

1st Phil, now Centeri0n...

Sadly, I just learned that Al Mohler tweets. Who next, James White?

I will be praying for your deliverence from the demon of Twitter...



Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachael Starke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.

Rachael Starke said...

"more humble than CJ Mahaney on Nyquil"

I dunno. Just how humble are you if you think you can write a whole book on humility?

Now, Tim Keller on Nyquil, OTOH, might be something to consider.

And a hearty AMEN to the sinfulness of Twittering! Could somebody please help me with a different conjugation of Twitter than "tweet"?? It sounds somewhat....impolite.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...


NoLongerBlind said...

Well now, that was a Galations 6:1 - type - rebuke, minus the, uhhh,

give me a sec.,


Aaron said...

Don't go to church
Don't read the Bible
Make sure all your friends and associates are lost people."

And here I thought that this was called relational evangelism?

Sinfulness of Tweeter? Maybe only while you are driving....

Gilbert said...


Thanks for policing your blog. ;-)

"Sin Conference 2010".

How many people would go to THAT?
Uplifting topics include:

"It wasn't a mistake, it was sin"
"How to take it before you can dish it out"
"How dare you!: resisting the Biblical warnings of a brother"
"When you've finally seen the light: making wrongs right again"
"You'll be listening to Sonny and Cher for all eternity: how to properly engage and warn someone dealing in open sin"
"Yes, the Bible is true, your ways are not"

I'm sure 15 minutes into the conference, people will start squirming and leave. For the 4 or 5 who show up, of course.

And yet, I know I'd benefit. I've been on both sides of the sin equation (telling others and being rebuked), and I'd say both are equally as tough to deal with.
Oh, to long for the day that first I humbly accept all true accusations and repent of them, and then never having to sin again!
In Christ, someday soon for the first, and the latter in eternity.

Aaron: The sins of tweeter are obvious: loud, high pitched noises. ;-D ;-D ;-D

Unknown said...

I regularly hear these "ways to avoid dealing with your sin" when open-air preaching. More often than not, the objections come from people whose first shout in opposition to the preaching is...

"I'm a Christian, too!!"

Anonymous said...

I know Phil didn't want this thread to be side-tracked so I opened the can of worms on my own blog ... The Red Herring Award!.

lawrence said...

Rachael Starke

"Just how humble are you if you think you can a whole book on humility?"

I can't decide if I think your perspective is hilarious or sad.

Rachael Starke said...

Lawrence -

Sorry if the ironic sarcasm was lost in translation. For the record, I've read the book and think it's excellent - I read it with one eye shut because it was that convicting. And if you read the forward to it, you'll find CJ actually agrees with me. :)

But really, you should take this up with Frank. He started it with all his talk about being so humble. :)

lawrence said...


:-). The ironic sarcasm (is that redundant? Whatever it is, I like it) was not lost. That's why part of me found it funny.

Aaron said...

Open air preaching?

NoLongerBlind said...

I think that Frank was cleverly trying to share some clues about how to find web-references to a certain there one minute, gone the next blog post; however, all traces of it seem to have vanished.

Unless my googling skills are really lame.....

FX Turk said...

We have offended Dr. Foltz.

I have been humbled yet again.

Good Night.

Sonja said...

Dan--this was so brilliant and timely. I pray that we can all be like the apostle Paul. The more we're conformed into Christ's image, the more we will be humbled by how wretched we truly are. May God help me the day I receive godly rebuke or correction with pride, denial and insolence.

Dan said...


Thanks very much!

Unknown said...

Hey Dan,
How about The Holiness of God by R.C. Sroul. I'm reading that now. Very good and not over my head!

sem said...

It's human nature. Those of us who did not see the blog post in question are naturally curious as to the content. However, I have to respect Phil taking the high road on this one. My own instincts run more the way of fists of fury or a drive by meat chubbing. Given his response, what's a taser compared to burning coals?

And now for something completely different... the original post on sin was difficult and good. Thanks Dan.

Anonymous said...

I have a new one to add!

"I don't worship scholarship like you do. I just love Jesus. I have a childlike faith."

Tom Austin said...

Think you're really righteous?

Think you're pure in heart?

Well, I know I'm a million time as humble as thou art

- "Amish Paradise", Weird Al Yankovic

Jugulum said...

I'm coming in late, but I thought I'd add a reply to Dan's original post:
Oddly, the "wrong attitude" set is very judgmental when it comes to mind-reading and heart-examining anyone who dares to try to obey Jesus' command to discern (Matthew 7:3-6) and rebuke (Luke 17:3). At its worst, it evolves into...Three magic words: "You're not loving.""

My favorite way to summarize that is: "Charity police can be some of the least charitable people on the Internet."

Even with the best of intentions, we can very easily fall into the very sin for which we criticize others. It's a general trap for human beings, not just charity police.

I also said something similar recently over at Michael Patton's blog, pointing to the Pyromaniac combox as an example:

"You spoke mostly about graciousness in our speech–tone, volume, etc. You also hinted at another area, which I’d like to highlight:

Graciousness in how we listen.

Some people excel at speaking in a gentle, “nice” way–but overlook the area of listening. We might speak nicely, but make a lot of assumptions about people without really listening. I’ve seen it from commenters at TeamPyro. Someone comes to the blog, and sees the Pyromaniacs’ style–which certainly includes hard words, whether or not you think they go too far. So these “irenic” commenters dump the Pyromaniacs into their mental category of “mean nasty fundamentalist Calvinists who don’t have anything beneficial to say”. And they completely misread or pass over the real content being expressed.

They are gracious in speech, but not gracious in listening.

Of course, sometimes charity police aren't gracious in speech, either.

Jugulum said...


"Even with the best of intentions, we can very easily fall into the very sin for which we criticize others."

And we should keep that in mind while we make our criticisms of the charity police. We need to maintain core of a humble, loving spirit toward our brothers & sisters, even when they're being boneheaded. Even when it gets to the point of requiring rebuke. It would be very easy for us to turn around and be dismissive toward them, or to lump them into our mental categories.

Lisa said...

One of my fave posts!

Nash Equilibrium said...

Don't go to church
Don't read the Bible
Make sure all your friends and associates are lost people.

Didn't you forget "avoid standing before God Almighty on Judgment Day" ?

Unknown said...


Open-air preaching is simply proclaiming the Law and the Gospel in public places. Most of Jesus', Peter's, and Paul's sermons were preached in the open-air. :-) Since that time, great men of the faith like Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley, and Spurgeon have preached in the open-air.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Jugulum: "And we should keep that in mind while we make our criticisms of the charity police. We need to maintain core of a humble, loving spirit toward our brothers & sisters, even when they're being boneheaded."

Already anticipated and pre-empted in the original post.

DJP: "Yes, the rebuker should do his task humbly and lovingly. Without doubt. But do it he must. It is, after all, what Jesus would do, and did do, and does do (Revelation 3:19)."

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

Bro. Phillips,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and undoubtedly I will use your rebukes and lessons taught here.

One thing, and it may seem nit-picky, but it is vitally important if you are concerned about the glory of Christ, and I'm sure you are. The first picture on the top right is directly blasphemous; it should not be on your blog. "Sakes Alive..." That's a very thinly veiled reference to the Risen Saviour.

Thanks, and sorry I didn't have a way to bring this to your attention in private.

Otherwise, keep up the excellent work,

cstone said...


Makes me think about how I've reacted and justified my way out of the sting of reproof in the past. We can't go wrong with a sincere, healthy, deeply cultivated relationship with God. That way, Holy Spirit can convict us in our secret place, we repent, receive cleansing and no one else is the wiser.

DJP said...

Exactly right. I've often said (and meant!) that I don't want to be the last to know it when I'm playing the fool, or in sin.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dan. I wandered here by accidental link-browsing and found people who know the word "deucedly." How refreshing.

This is a mirror reflection of the exact conditions that caused me and my husband and two other families to leave our church 2 weeks ago. Thankfully, God has sent plenty of affirmations that we're not the crazy, unloving haters we're tempted to feel like. Refreshing indeed.

Love the Emergent See posters!!! Oh, my word, those are the best.

DJP said...

Welcome. Stick around. I know many other words.

The posters are pure Phil.

Aaron said...


I'd love to see that in action.

Jugulum said...

TUaD: Whoops! You're absolutely right. Even to the point of similar wording. :) My bad.

Lisa said...

You need to write a DJP dictionary that includes words you have made up and words you have used that are not often used on your blogs that do not seem to be used much anymore.

DJP said...

Well... there's this.