Stop it

This essay was published in January 2011

I listened to a great John MacArthur sermon that discussed how sin starts and what happens when we allow sin to continue without ending it at its root. MacArthur’s sermon is titled “Hacking Agag to pieces” and you can listen to or read part one here, and part 2 here. I recommend it.

There is a section of the two-part hour long sermon that made me think of a Bob Newhart skit. In the skit from MadTV, Newhart is a psychologist seeing a patient for the first time. Now, here is the salient part of MacArthur’s sermon about sin:

“Now what is he [Paul] saying? I’ll tell you what he’s saying. Stop lusting. It’s not too mystical. Stop lusting. It’s like 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality.” Do you want to put to death the lusts in your heart? Then stop entertaining them. Peter doesn’t describe some complex program of therapy, he says quit lusting. Stop it. Put it out of your life. There’s no point sitting around waiting for some heavenly power to erase lust. There’s no point spending hours and hours or years and years looking for the right formula to chase away the demon of lust. Here’s a most simple straight-forward means of killing sin, stop lusting…stop it. It’s kind of like James 4 which says resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. Stop lusting and you’ll stop sinning.”

Here is the Newhart piece which I believe makes a great companion to the MacArthur point about sin. Watch the first 2:40:

LOL! If you want to get the impact of the point, then listen to MacArthur’s full part one of ‘Hacking Agag to pieces’. Then think of the Newhart skit. We laugh at the moment when Newhart says “STOP IT!” but there is truth to those words. We engage in self-indulgent therapies for sins we maintain are generated outside of our bodies, not inside. We let them linger, run around, placate them because those sins are ‘not our fault’. But MacArthur is right. There is no complex therapy that will help us stop sin. There is no divining rod to pass over us to erase it. It is up to us to stop it at the root. And that root is our thoughts. Do not think about your lusts. Do not entertain thoughts of them. STOP IT.

“Easy for you to say that!” you might make a charge against me. But I’ve been there. I’m still there. I have to work really really hard at not letting sinful thoughts enter into my head. When I find them, I have to work at telling my brain to “STOP IT”. It’s work. Paul said in Romans 6:12 “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Do not. It is as simple as that. “Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” If you put on your armor, resist the devil, and guard your thoughts, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:13b-14). And that is a very good place to be.

3 Comments

  1. When it comes to sin you stated: — ” Do not. It is as simple as that. ”

    You based your statement on this verse: — Paul said in Romans 6:12 “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Do not. It is as simple as that.

    If it is truly simple then I would imagine you have not sinned since you wrote that.

    If it is truly simple then why would we need grace to protect us?

    I am also curious in the same chapter we see this verse: — 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations.

    If we are limited then how is it simple?

    Like

  2. Hi Lander7,

    The point of the post was not about not sinning. Here, let me copy/paste an excerpt for you that IS the point. I’ll italicize so we don’t miss it again:

    There is no complex therapy that will help us stop sin. There is no divining rod to pass over us to erase it. It is up to us to stop it at the root. And that root is our thoughts. Do not think about your lusts. Do not entertain thoughts of them. STOP IT.

    Our sin begins in the mind. Entertaining sinful thoughts and schemes leads to sinning. All we need to do to be conformed to the world is…nothing.

    The post is about resisting our sinful thoughts, the start of it all. Here, let me offer some more verses for you,

    When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. James 1:13-14

    Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

    Once you change your thought pattern from “Oh, it’s impossible to resist sin” and “It’s sooo complicated and I need all these schemes of man to do it” to “I MUST resist with everything I’ve got. I will STOP IT and with the grace of God and the Spirit in me, I will” (not completely till the day we die, but bit by bit more resistance each day, then you will sin less and less.

    That’s the point. So, stop it.

    Like

Comments are closed.