"What does it mean to 'let go and let God?'"

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Aaron Blumer's picture


Second, Trumbull’s point is that victory over sin is not a gradual process of weeding out one’s spiritual garden. Rather, it is instantaneous, the very moment the believer appropriates the truth of Romans 6 by faith, recognizing that he has been crucified with Christ and is, therefore, dead to sin; that he has risen with Christ and is, therefore, alive to righteousness. Union with Christ is the key. To the extent that a believer chooses to yield his members to righteousness, Christ will live His life of righteousness in that one’s life.

Maybe somebody can help me see what I'm missing here. It's not clear to me if the author is saying this instantaneous victory comes at conversion when we believe the gospel or if this is supposed to be some other event.

If he's saying the latter.... well, I would like to see where the Scriptures teach that. There is no cause-effect language in Romans 6. There's no "do A and B will happen to you." There is only "believe A and do B." Faith and obedience.

... strange teaching, unless I'm misreading it.

(I'm posting in the link thread also)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture


Posted a reply over there as well... Here it is (with a couple of references corrected... and slicker formatting Wink )

Thanks. It does help clarify. I take a different position on this though.
Heb. 12 refers to "the sin that does so easily beset us." It would be difficult to exclude "internal sin" as you termed it. But I can see how the reference to shedding blood in striving could be seen as evidence that this is not about the struggle against our own sin.
However, that struggle is actually a theme that appears throughout the NT. Some examples include 1 Cor. 9:27, 1 Tim. 4:7-8, Acts 24.16 ("strive"), 2 TIm. 2:3-7, Phil. 3:12.
A passage that brings the whole together nicely is Php. 2:12-13. Because God is working, we must work.

Probable points of agreement:

  1. Our "natural" self (post-conversion, our "old" self) does not have the resources to make any progress at all in sanctification.
  2. If this is what you mean by working "in the flesh," we agree that this is futile.
  3. Our efforts to grow in grace must be conducted with a strong awareness of where our power comes from  and Who is doing the true transforming work in our character.
  4. There is initial sanctification and progressive sanctification.
  5. Faith is absolutely vital to the process... daily (and hourly, minutely, etc.)

Where we probably differ is some of the following:

  1. The language of "appropriating" is not biblical language. (Neither is "trinity," but that term is useful. I don't see how "appropriate" helps when we have perfectly good Bible words like "believe" and "trust" and "obey"... and yes, strive and work, and wrestle.)
  2. The language of appropriation is also not quite accurate. We already have everything we need. It's a matter of using it the form of trusting, thankful obedience. (If "appropriate" means "use," why not just say "use"?)
  3. Those in Christ are new creations and indwelled by the Spirit. Though we remain imperfect and sinful, a true change has occurred. The dynamic is completely different. Thereafter, when we strive against sin, it is no longer we who strive (Gal.2:20). It is not really possible to do this "in the flesh," because the flesh does not strive against sin. It consistently seeks sin, pretty much by definition. In a manner of speaking, we can strive "in the flesh" if we strive with a disregard for Who has changed and equipped us, Who's power we are really using, Who we are in union with.
  4. In the context of Romans 6, I believe that both "reckon" and "yield" are synonyms for "obey." Those who have already believed the gospel truly, do not have more to believe. But they do have *lots* of opportunities to act on that belief. We truly "reckon" it true when we act on that belief.
  5. Believers are not in danger of trying too hard! There are warnings in Scripture against not trying hard enough (e.g., 1Cor. 9:27) but none against trying too hard.

In sum, my view is that the time for "let go and let God" is when we repent and believe the gospel. After that, we consciously take hold of and work *with* God.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

TOvermiller's picture

Aaron, here are some further thoughts from John Van Gelderen regarding the possible differences you mention. You can read them here as well.

Thank you, Aaron, for your participation in this important discussion. Regarding what you refer to as points that may differ, here are a couple of thoughts I trust may be clarifying:

On points 1 and 2, the word “appropriating” was used by some of the old-timers with the sense of “taking” what has been provided and then “acting” on what you have taken. Though the word “appropriate” is not used in the English Bible, “receive” or “take” is. (e. g. Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive [take] power…and ye shall be witnesses [act]….”).

On point 3, it is possible for self-righteous flesh to strive against sin or unrighteous flesh, but it is counterfeit religion that leads to the frustration of Romans 7. In other words it is possible for the work or strength of the flesh (Gal. 3: 1-3) to strive against the works or sins of the flesh. This error is corrected by faith (Gal. 3:2). The “I live; yet not I, but Christ” is not inevitable, but is lived by “faith” (Gal. 2:20).

On point 4, I have never seen “reckon” defined as “obey.” To reckon is to allow your self to be convinced of the facts so as to come to the right conclusion. This sets the stage for the yielding, but not mere “will power yielding,” but rather yielding “as those that are alive from the dead,” which is a “faith-in-the-facts yielding.”

On point 5, Jesus makes clear that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15: 4-5). So “trying too hard” is a danger when the trying is self-dependent. As such Jesus warns against it.


Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | StudyGodsWord.com
Blog & Podcast | ShepherdThoughts.com

Aaron Blumer's picture


I appreciate the interaction. I don't believe Rom. 7 describes a struggle between self right. flesh vs. sin. It's just the struggle against sin, period. It is often frustrating--Paul's just being beautifully transparent there--but ultimately not (as the end of the chapter shows).

I'll have to revisit Gal 3.1-3. My understanding is that a struggle between self right. flesh and sin is really a struggle of sin against sin. It is not the struggle of a believer striving for obedience. Believers are not in the flesh but the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-9). We can only struggle against sin "in the flesh" in one sense: with a forgetfulness of Who has made us new, Who we are in union with, Who's power now fills us.

On pt. 5, see above. This is not trying too hard but trying incorrectly, with the wrong attitude/in a manner not consistent with faith.

On pt. 4 I have to admit my view of that is not common. Reckon is an accounting term. But looking at Rom. 6 as a whole, it's clear that the emphasis is on acting in accordance with what we know and believe. That much is clear regardless of how we take "Reckon." Paul is writing to people who already believe the gospel. So there is not more to  believe in Romans 6. There is only more consistency between believing and doing.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture


Here's the text....

Ga 3:1–4  1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? NKJV

I can't see how this supports a "no struggle"/"no trying harder" view of sanctification or the idea that "the flesh" ever truly strives against sin.

Looking at the larger context of Galatians, ch1 repeatedly identifies Paul's issue with them as one concerning "the gospel," which he repeatedly identifies as what "was preached." He is talking about the message of justification by faith. He rebukes the Galatians specifically for turning to "another gospel" that is not really the gospel (Gal. 1:6-7). That the gospel of justification by faith is his main concern is at least equally clear in the closing verses of ch2 that form the context for 3:1-4.

Ga 2:15–21  15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” NKJV

I've added the bold of course. The word "righteousness" in v.21 is the noun form of the word translated "justified' everywhere else in the passage. It would have been better to render it "justification" to reflect that, though just about everybody seems to love "righteousness" there (NIV, ESV, KJV, NAS). Since that's what justification is about, it's not a big deal, but easier to see the flow of thought if we see "justification" there.

So then we come to 3:1-4. The key phrase in dispute is probably this one:

3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

Since the sin of the Galatians is clearly identified earlier as turning aside from the gospel of justification by faith, "now being made perfect by the flesh" is part of an argument against that error. Having argued that they were not justified by the law and did not receive the Spirit by the law, he adds that the rest of their Christian experience (being perfected/completed) is not going to occur by the law either. So "by the flesh" here parallels the rejected method of justification and Spirit indwelling mentioned earlier: the effort of an unregenerate person to gain God's favor by his own efforts.

So, to sum up, just as being justified that way is impossible and receiving the Spirit that way is impossible, being transformed that way is impossible. But "that way" is the way of one dead in sins. He is not saying a justified, Spirit indwelled person is in danger of progressing in sanctification by means of his old dead works. He's saying that's impossible. He's really even saying they're in danger of behaving as though that were possible. He's pointing out the absurdity of obtaining justification by faith, receiving the Spirit by faith, then turning around and replacing the gospel (message) with a false gospel of works... and preaching that instead.

He returns to the theme of justification (which he never really left--only seems to briefly) in Gal 3.6 and following.



Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.