But Won't You Still Go Into Exile?

Tim Challies channels Paul in Romans 7 even if he avoids “oh wretched man”:

I still get angry. I still lash out in anger. I still simmer in anger. I still have desires that stem from anger and suffer the consequences of my anger. And that is just one sin. I still lust and am still jealous and am still thankless and still sin in so many ways. I have died to sin but sin has not yet died within. But here is the difference; here is the change: Sin no longer has dominion. And practically I cannot relate to it as if it has dominion. I have to ensure that my experience of sin is consistent with my theology of sin.

Anger does not own me. Christ owns me. Lust does not motivate me. Christ motivates me. Jealousy does not get the final victory. Christ gets the final victory. The cross stands there as assurance that I have been saved from its power and will some day be fully and finally delivered from its presence. Sin is in me but I am in Christ. And what is in me was put upon him on the cross. He triumphed over it then. He broke its power. And now I just wait, battling all the while, for him to speak the word and bring it to an end once and for all.

But the good news is that he is united to Christ, right? So isn’t the priority of union before justification just as antinomian as the priority of justification to sanctification? Either way, the assurance of God’s favor is a great comfort for believers who still carry around sin. But let’s not conclude that somehow union fixes what justification lacks. The only remedy for sin, before or after regeneration, is not obedience but the grace of Christ.

At the same time, wouldn’t the obedience boys tell Tim that he is going to have to suffer for his ongoing sin? Can he simply get away with all this anger and lust and jealousy? Won’t he experience God’s displeasure?


31 thoughts on “But Won't You Still Go Into Exile?

  1. But but but but…..

    even after I clench my teeth and vow to be holy, and read little pep talks, I still sin.

    I don’t even go looking to sin and then Mom tells me that the big chocolate pudding in the fridge is strictly for taking to the neighbour’s house for their housewarming party…

    And even if I live a life that has 1/3 the sin of my neighbour, well you know the picture…


  2. This sentence is to me the most revelatory of the view of human nature which this position endorses: I have to ensure that my experience of sin is consistent with my theology of sin.

    How does Mr. Challies intend to do that? Were I to make a short list of all the things in this life the experience of which I can “ensure” the number would come up to zero. Mr. Charter, as the resident accountant, can you check my calculations please?


  3. Evangelicals have a common agreement that stating the problem and agreeing that it must stop means you have solved it. Then you go on your merry way.

    I missed the day that was planted in church membership skulls like a microchip.


  4. yeah, didn’t want to disappoint you, my very good AMIGO Andrew

    I do see why some don’t engage here since you do seem to like to mischaracterize; all I can say is watch out – the Lord knows the heart

    not sure why I’m commenting still; guess I DO love you guys, just don’t probably want to be next door neighbors later, separate mansions even maybe

    – ‘the good news is that he is united to Christ’
    The only good news right? Jesus answered DGH “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen John 3: 10 -11

    -‘priority of union before justification’ what, who says that? and how could that be?

    ‘the priority of justification to sanctification’ what? the Lord priorities these? I thought salvation was justification/sanctification/glorification? salvation from the penalty/power/presence of sin. period

    “suffer for his ongoing sin” sin always causes harm=some kind of suffering, that’s just what it is, why do you think the Lord hates it so much?

    “Won’t he experience God’s displeasure?” you mean we can experience God’s pleasure with our sin?

    who are obedience boys anyway?


  5. a…..

    there is a home team on this board and we take for granted that all members in our cluster of denominations have about 1200 things about theology in common, and that we aren’t going to discuss them on here unless specifically asked to, they just are

    the openness of this site makes a lot of visitors forget this concept


  6. a., I try to remember this as I sit back and watch xtians discuss theology in public.

    Have a nice weekend, and Lord’s day at your non-demon congregation. Hope your website troubles subside, message me here if I can help, likely I’ll read it. Peace out.


  7. Let’s not conclude that somehow “union” with Christ’s resurrected presence fixes what justification lacks, or that “union with Christ’s person” is a necessary condition before Christ’s death can be imputed by God to the elect.

    The only remedy for sin, before or after regeneration, is not our obedience but rather Christ’s one great act of obedience, which is His death by law for the sins of the elect God had imputed to Christ.

    Have Tim’s past sins already been imputed by God to Christ so that Christ has died for them? Have Tim’s future sins already been imputed by God to Christ so that Christ has died for them?

    Instead of pasting in the quotation “as long as He is outside us”, and then saying the magic word “united”, let’s say “Christ in us” or “us in Christ”.

    And please instead of always only saying “in Christ”, sometimes let’s say “in Christ’s death”.

    Romans 6: 5 For if we have been united with him in a DEATH like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self WAS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM in order that the body of sin be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been justified from sin….

    9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all time…..
    14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are—-regenerate??? no

    14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since—— Christ is in you??? no

    14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

    And why are you not under law? because Christ was under law, and Christ’s death satisfied law
    And why will sin not have dominion over you? not because of two acts of death, but only because of one act of obedient death

    Christ’s death for the elect imputed to the elect is their death with Christ to law.

    Christ’s death is Christ’s righteousness. His righteousness is meritorious law-satisfaction. Accomplished and obtained after His incarnation, while He was a priest on earth, the merit of Christ’s death is Christ’s law-satisfying righteousness. If Christ’s meritorious death is not imputed by God to the elect, what other righteousness and what other merit could ever be enough?


  8. Andrew: “a., I try to remember this ”

    funny. and crazy how we’ve enjoyed those violent cartoons as kids- road runner was always a favorite!
    but the ‘punching the clock’ title? …makes me think of John 10:13. hope that’s not what you meant


  9. a.,


    There’s plenty more funnies where that came from, take Newhart, for example:

    To the anonymous person:

    Get a life, be a man (unless you’re a woman who comments anonymously), and:

    Stop it.



  10. a., if you are struggling in this area, no need to respond to my questions. I was just looking for tips, It’s not always easy for me.

    for my commute, i started listening to this yesterday. check it out.

    I simply wonder what brings you to olts, and i thought you were in MJ fan.



  11. We can (Readers: You can) disagree with Challies. I see nothing in his blogs that encourage conversation or debate. Include the rest of the Obedience Boys together with Challies, especially the ones who live upon the Seven Hills of Appalachia, or in the regional plains thereof.

    After a while, when the burden of trying to observe all of the Law, and all of the new Talmud created by Challies and so many others like him crushes you, Christ remains and will always be faithful to receive you and impart His grace and love, comfort and rest to you.


  12. There are folks who put their hope in the idea that “at least we struggle now”. That makes more sense to them the antinomian reliance on some idea that Christ’s death was already enough to satisfy the law.

    a Reformed theologian—“The difference between being accused of antinomianism and being guilty as charged is whether we are WILLING TO FOLLOW Paul on into CHAPTER 6 There the apostle answers this charge by an announcement of what God has done! At first, this would seem to favor antinomians, since they place all of the emphasis on what God has done and reject, or at least downplay, the importance of imperatives. Yet in fact, what Paul announces is that God has accomplished not only our justification in Christ, but our baptism into Christ. ”

    R theologian—“Paul’s argument is basically this— being united to Christ necessarily brings justification and regeneration, which issues in sanctification. He does not say that Christians should not, or must not, live in sin as the principle of their existence, but that they CANNOT — it is an impossibility. That they do continue to sin is evident enough, especially in chapter 7, but NOW THEY STRUGGLE AGAINST IT….”

    mark—don’t worry about people looking outside themselves to the cross alone, because the cross alone is never alone, because there is also always some struggle inside you, and it’s the inner exile which assures you that you want to be obedient enough, even if at times you don’t quite know if you want it enough…


  13. Besides being assured that sin does not have dominion if we “struggle”, we are also warned that only teaching “providence” instead of teaching “God loves everybody” makes us “hyper”—-“Does God love everybody, OR is His kindness simply a cloak for His wrath — fattening the wicked for the slaughter, as some hyper-Calvinists have argued?”

    The theologian explains—-“The doctrine we are talking about has come to be called “common grace,” in distinction from “saving grace.” Some have objected to this term (some even to the concept), insisting that there is nothing common about grace—there is only one kind of grace, which is sovereign, electing grace. ”

    And the theologian warns—-“However, it MUST be said that whatever kindness God shows to anyone for any reason after the fall, can ONLY BE regarded as gracious….God acts graciously to save the elect AND ALSO to sustain the non-elect and cause them to flourish in this mortal life. While it is among the sweetest consolations for believers, election is not the whole story of God’s dealing with this world.

    The theologian represents all the Reformed who are not exiles or otherwise marginal—-“When we, as Christians, affirm common grace, we take this world seriously in all of its sinfulness as well as in all of its goodness as created and sustained by God. We see Christ as the mediator of God’s general blessings to a world that is under the curse. Thus, unbelievers can even enrich the lives of believers. John Calvin concludes that when we disparage the truth, goodness, and beauty found among unbelievers, we are heaping contempt on the Holy Spirit Himself who bestows such gifts of His common grace….”

    But google this “hyper” guy—“1 Timothy 2:.4 was long ago brought forth by the Pelagians, and handled against us with all their might. . . . The true meaning of Paul, however, in this passage now under consideration is clear. The apostle is exhorting that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and all that are in authority. Who does not see that the apostle here is speaking of orders of men rather than of individuals? But Paul teaches us (continues Georgius) that God would have all men to be saved. It follows, therefore, according to his understanding of that passage, either that God is disappointed in His wishes, OR that all men without exception must be saved. If he should reply that God wills all men to be saved on His part, or as far as He is concerned, seeing that salvation is, nevertheless, left to the free will of each individual; I, in return, ask him why, if such be the case, God did not command the Gospel to be preached indiscriminately from the beginning of the world? Why has God suffered so many generations of men to wander for so many ages in all the darkness of death? ”


  14. I was directed to some blog “for the elect alone.”

    Maybe you’ve heard of it?

    I hear that blogger delivers a mean sermon, yo.


  15. Good news for all sinners. Mark Jones explains how sinful living (call it “imperfect” obedience”) is “accepted” for “sanctification”, but not for “justification”. And this means that “imperfect” obedience to the law is “necessary” because imperfect “sanctification” is needed for more and more justification, and for the final justification which is to come.

    And if I would ask, just how “imperfect’ can this obedience be and still leave us believing that we believe, the very question shows that I am “antinomian”. Never enough, because now Christians can obey, and therefore should (well they should have before but now ability is the basis of duty)….

    Thank you god that my (very) sinful living (i mean very imperfect obedient faith) causes me to struggle so that I do not despair but hope in my struggle, because surely it is God in me who causes the struggle , and surely struggle enough to safely say that sin does not have dominion over me, at least not today….

    Mark Jones—-does an infinitely holy and righteous God accept imperfection from his people? Thankfully, he does. This is a central truth of our Christian living, though in some respects either ignored or rejected by some in the church today. Understanding God’s acceptance of our (very) imperfect obedience will keep us from despair and also exalt his fatherly graciousness….So in saying that God accepts our imperfect obedience, we must be careful not to bring this “acceptilatio” into the realm of justification, but keep it in the realm of sanctification.- See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/02/god-accepts-imperfection.php#sthash.ppis4AlB.dpuf


  16. sounds to me like the re-definition of both justification and sanctification

    what we say wrong about “sanctification” will swallow up anything we say right about the atonement and justification

    not only the nature of sanctification— by “imperfect” sinful works, instead of sanctification by the blood (Hebrews 10:10-14)

    but also the nature of justification—an increase in, a more and more until final justification, after more and more faith and more and more union and more and more faith working

    Mark Jones sounds “commercial” (even capitalist) in explaining how sinful living (call it “imperfect” obedience”) is “accepted” for “sanctification”, but not for “justification”—–God accepts less – often, a LOT LESS (i.e., “SMALL beginnings”) – than perfection from us because of his Son and for the sake of his Son, who is glorified IN US…. The obedience we offer to God does not have to be sinless obedience or perfect obedience, but it must be sincere obedience.

    mcmark—And this old justified “antinomian” just can’t help asking, how “sincere” does my obedience have to be?

    And also, I wonder how “sincere” YOUR obedience really is?

    – See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/02/god-accepts-imperfection.php#sthash.ppis4AlB.oNEgqH2D.dpuf


  17. If you don’t agree with Mark Jones, then you simply can’t be a honest reader of Scripture. He takes the “sola” out of the solas—it’s too “radical” for us to not to have an additional righteousness of our own in addition to Christ’s substitution.

    Mark Jones—“Just as the fact that we have indwelling sin does not mean we cannot be called good, holy, righteous, etc. It is wrong-headed, I believe, to suppose that we exalt the grace of God by suggesting that the ONLY righteousness pleasing to God is Christ’s righteousness. This is a radical form of SUBSTITUTION that would confuse any honest reader of the Scriptures.”
    – See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/02/god-accepts-imperfection.php#sthash.Gj9HZIA8.dpuf


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