Dale Johnson: This week, I’m joined by Dr. Rush Witt. He’s one of the pastors of Paramount Church in Bexley, Ohio. He’s also the Acquisitions Editor over counseling titles at P&R publishing, and we’re excited to have him here with us today to talk about a new resource that he’s written. We’re excited to talk to him about the subject that he’s put a lot of effort into with this publication. Rush, will you tell us a little bit about how the idea for this book came about?
Rush Witt: Thanks, Dale. I’m really excited about this book and thankful that we have an opportunity to talk about it. I’m very grateful for biblical counseling and discipleship, not only for the role that it’s played in my life, but also through pastoral ministry and the counseling and discipleship that I aim to provide in my church, as well as my role at P&R publishing. I’m thankful for all of those because they’ve given me opportunities to continue learning and growing in a variety of different ways.
Because of all of those roles, I’m all ears to learn about new biblical counseling resources which can help the church, those that are suggested by pastors, counselors, counselees, or authors. That’s a question I’m asking many different people in my life: What resources are needed? The idea for the book Diehard Sins came from not only my own life, but what I was seeing in the lives of other people. What continued to come up over and over again in different conversations about counseling and discipleship is I continually saw the challenge of wrestling with our remaining sin.
I and others, maybe you’ve had this thought too, at different times said something like or thought something like, “I’ve been a Christian for 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years and I’m still struggling with the same old habits. I’ve read the verses. I’ve heard the sermons. I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the counselors. But I’m still struggling with anger, or pride, or peacemaking, or laziness, or fear.” I continued to see this as a book that not only I needed but that others needed as well so that we’d have another resource that could help us to wrestle and fight against the difficult reality of remaining sin.
Dale Johnson: Unfortunately, Rush, that sounds all too familiar. We do struggle in so many ways, and to think about the possibility that you mentioned in the book of being able to overcome those sins that we struggle with so deeply is an encouragement. I want to echo that. I think you address some of that in your book that I think will be helpful. As you think about this particular work, as an author, you always aim to a certain direction and you hope to accomplish several things in the book. What do you think readers can hope to find by reading this book and what was your primary aim in writing it?
Rush Witt: In Diehard Sins, I have sought to do three main things, and they are three things that I often seek to do when I have opportunities to meet with someone and encourage a brother or sister in Christ with any particular problem or general pastoral ministry. My first aim was to give readers true hope which is grounded in Christ, Him being our all-sufficient, living Savior, and to give them hope that is grounded in His all-sufficient Word. For those who, like me, continue to struggle with some daily habits, some of those which fly under the radar and escape our notice, we need hope as we see those continue to bubble up or as we see our remaining sin seem to overcome, at times, all of our efforts to eradicate it from our lives. That’s a place where we can despair and become seriously discouraged, and I know the role of hope in my life has been huge. I’ve aimed to give hope to others who are facing the same thing.
The second thing I aim to bring to light is the nature of our sin. In other words, I’m trying to give in a significant part of this book a down-to-earth doctrine of sin and to show from Scripture why our remaining sin continues to plague us in these ways.
Finally, number three is I aim to deliver a biblically derived plan for addressing these ongoing problems in our own lives and also in the lives of others.
Dale Johnson: Now, Rush, you mentioned a plan of how to approach dealing with some of these diehard sins, can you help us to work through how you would use that plan to fight against some of these ongoing, diehard sins?
Rush Witt: Something that has become evident to me as I have thought carefully about this problem that we all have fighting against our remaining sin is that there is not, in Scripture, a number of different individualized plans for different sin habits, but rather that God in His Word, through the gospel, continues to give us the same plan over and over again. In Diehard Sins, I’ve sought to bring a plan that we not only apply to this diehard sin habit, or this destructive daily habit, but one that we can remember and put to use no matter what we’re facing.
This plan is a kind of self-counseling plan by which we can, because of Christ and the gospel, enter with joy into our fight with sin, and then, because of what He has told us in His Word, we can look to Christ to understand what our true needs are. What is at the root of this ongoing struggle? Whatever it may be, these ongoing struggles are rooted in our hearts, and we need to understand what is going on there. That we would be tuned in, as we do in the book, to the desires and also the beliefs that drive along our continued struggle with remaining sin so that those beliefs and desires may be brought into submission to Christ and to His Word, and that He would be exalted, and that He would be our all sufficient, all satisfying Savior. By submitting ourselves to Him and by bringing Him as our living Savior, along with His provisions and answers, to our fight, that we would then be changed—even though in this life we will always wrestle with remaining sin—that we would continue to fight a faithful fight, putting to use the resources that he has given us.
In the book, I particularly talk about five of those provisions or resources. Number one, we aim to bring God Himself into our fight with sin. We’re not fighting by ourselves. He’s not left us off to the side and given us a few tools, but He has first and foremost given us Himself, and that’s a provision that we must intentionally, as Christians, bring into this fight. We must intentionally look to Him and cling to His promises.
Second, we need to bring the Word of God to bear upon these ongoing habits that we have and these sin struggles that continue to plague us.
Third, we need the gospel. We need the good news that He has announced to us over and over again of His ultimate grace and His power to change us.
Fourth, we also need the church. We need to fight this fight against remaining sin in the community of faith. We need one another to encourage one another and help one another. We need faithful pastors. We need other believers who will care for us and continue to counsel us.
Number five, we spend some time in the book considering the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper and seeing all that they mean to us as Christians. All that they symbolize regarding what Christ has done for us, that they can be an ongoing means of God’s grace as He sanctifies us and grows us as we continue to keep our hearts and minds focused upon Him and upon what He has done for us.
Dale Johnson: Now, Rush, it’s obvious that as you talk through this you’ve presented to us a very practical resource. One that we’re not just thinking about our counselees and how helpful it can be for them, but we’re thinking about how these ideas can be helpful for us as we continue to struggle and wrestle, as Paul talks about in Romans 6 and 7, with our own sin as we pursue sanctification in a healthy way. Briefly talk us through how you see this book being useful to the church. Think about the members in the church and how this book could be useful for them, or our pastors, or certainly counselors as well.
Rush Witt: Like the many other counseling-minded resources and books that we already have, Diehard Sins is useful in a number of ways. First and foremost, this book is a useful book as a personal resource, as all of us have this common problem of remaining sin. We all need help and encouragement and hope from the Scriptures to fight against these difficulties and these troubles that continue to plague us from in our hearts. I hope that this book will be very useful to believers everywhere and that as they read it, they will be encouraged and they will be helped.
I also see that this book could be used as a group study tool for groups of believers. Perhaps a small group or a Sunday school class would be able to use a book like this to encourage one another. Even in one-on-one encouragement or accountability this could be a useful resource, as well.