The Obedience Boy W-w

Tim Challies leaves out a crucial piece of Reformed Protestantism when he describes The Utter Devastation of Sin:

But is even a tornado a significant enough picture of sin? A tornado is one big system that devastates and destroys, but quickly moves on. As much damage as that F4 tornado did to Ringgold, it lasted for just a few minutes and was gone. Sin is different in that a big sin seems to spawn a thousand little sins. So maybe we need to push the metaphor to near the breaking point to say that sin is like a big tornado that tears through town while spawning off hundreds of smaller tornados, each of which goes in its own direction, causes its own trauma, and leaves behind its own trail of destruction. One big sin is so awful, so evil, so sinful, that it generates a thousand little opportunities to compound the sin, setting off all those other whirlwinds. People can sin in their response—perhaps they try to cover it up or they try to downplay it. People can sin as they process it—perhaps they gossip about the people involved or they make prideful assertions. People can sin in their actions—perhaps they over-react or under-react, displaying either needless panic or thoughtless apathy. The possibilities are endless.

The fact is that sin is awful, unbearably awful. Sin is evil, horrifyingly evil. And sin begets sin. There are endless ways that sin invites sin, that sin promotes further sin, that sin invites the opportunity to sin more, to sin deeper, to spawn off into a massive all-consuming storm. Let this be just one more reason to put sin to death—to search it out, pray it out, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to root it out.

O, wretched man that he is, to borrow a phrase. Wasn’t this understanding of the pervasiveness of sin what drove Luther to the alien righteousness of Christ imputed by faith alone as his only hope? And wasn’t the pervasiveness of sin in his regenerate self what drove Paul to the freedom from the law that he found only in Christ? So why bring up the Holy Spirit and the quest for holiness apart from Christ?

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:21-8:4 ESV)

Without Christ, doesn’t putting sin to death place you on the same treadmill as your average Roman Catholic (not really given the soteriological security we see at Old Life from the ex-Protestant Roman Catholics)?

Faith in Christ doesn’t give us a clean slate to be holy now that past sins are forgiven. The active obedience of Christ is also imputed to us in faith. It lets us looking indwelling sin in the eye before turning to look in trust at Christ. Shouldn’t someone who identifies with Calvinism (even of a recent sort) know better?

7 thoughts on “The Obedience Boy W-w

  1. Oh no, now you’ve done it. Someone is going to broadside you with the two by four of union with Christ and the next thing you know you’ll be labeled an antinomian. “Union with Christ is the organizing principle not justification through faith”. Get ready to ruuuummmmbbbbbbbblllllleeeeee. This is where having been brought up RC is really helpful in illuminating the difference. I’m pretty sure the confession uses the same RC soteriological context to make it’s contrary case. But, now it’s all just one gracious covenant(Murray)……………………… How many sacred cows are we allowed to sacrifice here? I have a list.


  2. why-oh–why (I’m trying to watch the evening news) says FCA (fact-check-Ali).

    DG Hart says: So why bring up the Holy Spirit and the quest for holiness apart from Christ?

    Did Challies say apart from Christ? Answer: NO, he did not.
    He said: “to search it out, pray it out, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to root it out.” likely not addressing infants, but those accustomed to the word of righteousness, who continually on the forefront of their hearts have firmly planted the elementary principles of the oracles of God


    1) Challies: Title: The Utter Devastation of Sin YEP Check. correct.
    Rev 11:18 the time came to destroy those who destroy the earth
    Rom 8:21 all creation enslaved to corruption, groans and suffers
    Rom 6:21 the outcome of sin is always death

    2)Challies: we encounter sin and are harmed by it. YEP Check. correct.
    Opposite: Love does no harm= love fulfills the law. Rom 13:10

    3)DGHart: pervasiveness of sin in his regenerate self ? Not check. for-reals-reality in God’s eyes- NOPE, already done deal holy
    Rom 6:6 old self crucified and freed from sin
    Rom 6: made alive in Jesus, righteous slave to God
    Matt 7:17 a good tree bearing good fruit.
    Eph 5:9 fruit of Light consists in all goodness,righteousness, truth)
    Rom 8:13 by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body
    1 John 5:4 have overcome the world by faith

    4)Challies: practically, in/by faith act-accordingly-exhortations Check. Correct.
    Col 3:5 consider members of your earthly body as dead to sin
    Rom 6 13 present members as righteousness instruments to God
    Heb 12:1 lay aside every encumbrance and sin
    Eph 4:24 put on new God- likeness-self created in righteousness and holiness of the truth
    Rom 8:14 under obligation, as sons of God, to be led by the Spirit
    1 John 2:4 practice righteousness’ why? you are righteous,….
    …For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Eph 2:8-10


  3. Robert Haldane —The expression, walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, in the verse before us, is generally interpreted as referring exclusively to the practice of good or of wicked works. It is supposed that the Apostle in Romans 8:4 is guarding his doctrine of gratuitous justification from abuse, by excluding all claim to union with Christ, and to exemption from condemnation, where there is not purity of conduct… There are many different paths in the broad way; that is, many ways of walking after the flesh, all of which lead to destruction. Seeking acceptance with God by works of righteousness, either moral or ceremonial, is incompatible with union to Christ and freedom from condemnation.

    This way of going about to establish their own righteousness, by those who profess to have received the Gospel, and who have even a zeal of God, is probably that by which the greater number of them are deceived. There is the greatest danger lest the fleshly wisdom, under the notion of a zeal for God and of regard for the interests of virtue, should set men on the painful endeavor of working out their salvation….In this self-righteous way of the flesh Paul himself walked before his conversion, and it was this same way of walking according to the flesh which he so strenuously opposes in his Epistle to the churches of Galatia…. In the sense here ascribed to it, the word flesh is employed in the beginning of the fourth chapter of this Epistle. Flesh, in that place, cannot signify immoral conduct; for that Abraham was justified by wicked works could never be supposed. It must there signify works, moral or ceremonial, as is proved by the rest of that chapter.

    In the Epistle to the Galatians, the terms flesh and spirit are likewise used in this acceptation. ‘Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?’ ‘Having begun your Christian course by receiving the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ, are ye seeking to be made perfect by works of any kind?’


  4. The Bible on one hand describes spiritual process (good and bad) by way of wine fermenting, salt losing its usefulness, grain growing into a harvest, training your body to run distance, yeast spreading through a batch, the growth of the body in the womb. You know the process is happening, you have faith it is ongoing but you cannot grasp the stages, simple occurrences in the world. Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks….

    On the other hand you can try to command or insist on constant miracles or tornadoes or lightning bolts and Eureka!!!! moments. And they have happened and will again.

    Are you still in the faith when you lose your zeal because you have not made the sun stand still for a few weeks?

    Are we helping matters by encouraging weaker people to demand signs and miracles and sinless perfection to make the Christian life worth living?


  5. Problem: sin is really bad. Like a super gremlin tornado, popping out more gremlin tornadoes wherever it goes.
    Solution: try harder.
    Not one mention of how seriously God sees our sin, so much so that while we were yet sinners( I wish I could do that thing where you cross out the word…and put ‘stinkers’ next to it), Christ died for the ungodly. Come on, if we are supposed to read that article already assuming that (unmentioned) amazing fact, why can’t we also assume that other (amazing) fact that He who began the work will be faithful to complete it? Wouldn’t it have been better to go from the devastation of sin tornadoes to the One who has the power to calm the storm?

    Liked by 1 person


    Walter Marshall—Even after you become a Christian by believing the Gospel, your heart is still addicted to salvation by works. In your heart you still want to make the duties of the law come before the comforts of the Gospel. You find it hard to believe that you should get any blessing before you work for it. This is the mindset you tend to fall into: You sincerely do want to obey the laws of God. Therefore, to make sure you obey the law of God you make all of God’s blessings depend upon how well you keep his law. Some preachers even tell you that you had better not enjoy the blessings of the Gospel! They tell you to diligently obey the law first and that only by doing this will you be safe and happy before God. Just keep in mind, however, that if you go this route, you will never enjoy your salvation for as long as you live in this world.”

    I hear this preacher soundbite—“it’s a precious and rare thing to find a sinner” Sometimes it’s like preachers are saying that’s the end of the story, and thee is no more need to know about Christ and how Christ died for the elect or how Christ justifies

    Though only ungodly sinners are justified
    or need to be justified
    this does not mean that God justifies all ungodly sinners

    You can be a sinner without being justified
    you can know you are a sinner without being justified
    God never will justify all sinners

    Jesus rejects many sinners as His guilty clients, because Jesus was never the mediator for many guilty sinners
    God’s election comes first before Christ’s atonement
    Atonement to satisfy justice is a result of God’s love for the elect


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