Wisdom from Tim Challies, Bob Newhart on "Just Stopping" Sin

Two years ago, Tim Challies of The Reformed Blogger drew a spiritual analogy to the now-famous Bob Newhart skit, "Stop It!"

Do you want to give up bulimia/anorexia/fill-in-the-blank with addiction of choice? Learn to hate your sin. And then leave it behind.

Sometimes I think that, as a Christian, I can go looking for cures for sin that are long and involved and a little bit mysterious. I can go to friends or pastors or books for counsel and, like the woman in this video, I’m looking for a cure that I can jot down in a notebook and follow step-by-step. I want something I can do twice a day for ten days and watch the sin magically fall away. I want a five or ten step program. Sometimes such strategies work. Often they do not.

In Mark Driscoll’s book Confessions of a Reformission Rev he shares a late-night conversation with a member of his church. This video reminded me of Driscoll’s tale. The man called him in the middle of the night crying and begging for help because he had committed a certain sexual sin yet again. Though Driscoll’s answer was a tad vulgar I think he essentially gave the guy the right one: Just stop it! His counsel to the man was probably exactly what he needed to hear: shut up, grow up, man up and stop sinning. The guy called his pastor looking for a shoulder to cry on but what he got was a lesson in growing up. I hope it wasn’t lost on him.

Some time ago I spoke to a friend about an ongoing sin in his life and tried to show him that the essence of his problem was this: he hates his sin just a little bit less than he loves it. Sure he wants to stop sinning, but even more he wants to keep sinning. And I think he came to agree. My advice was pretty well what Newhart offered the woman in this video: “Stop it!” Are you fighting sin? I’ll pray for you—really, I will. And I’ll recommend that you memorize some Scriptures, some fighter verses, that will help you battle that sin by bringing to mind the promises of God. But I’ll also challenge you to just stop it and to stop it now. You stop sinning by turning your back on it. You do not sit back and wait for God to change you while you remain in your sin. Rather, you join him in the fight, joining your will with His strength. And together you go to war.

I can memorize Scripture from Genesis to Revelation and I can have the whole world pray for me. But there comes a time when forsaking sin, truly putting it to death, requires a decision of the mind and an act of the will. Sooner or later I need to just stop it. And God can give me the strength to do so.


  1. Great article, Maria! I recently talked with a friend about bulimia, and his response was a disgusted, 'How could you do that?' At that moment, I gave no outward answer, but inside, I was thinking of the 101+ reasons why I did what I did for as long as I've done it. Now, when I feel like binging or purging, I ask myself, 'How will I explain this to my friend?' (And I really have no good reason(s).) Taking that one step forward on to a spiritual level, I also ask, 'How will I explain this destructive behavior to God the Creator of my body and of the food He provides?'

    In addition, I've recently been challenged by the deceptive nature of bulimia; namely, cheating (or better translated ~ eating A LOT but looking normal.) I realized afresh that cheaters ultimately hurt themselves! So now, when tempted to binge or purge, I ask myself, 'If you decide to binge or purge, will I cheat or accept the consequences?' Generally, that is enough to prick my heart and bring me to my senses so that I immediately flee the scene or stop any overeating at that moment. And again, on to a spiritual level, what will I say to God about cheating? "Divine Master, I thought my idea of taking laxatives was a better idea than Yours?"

    The advice to 'Stop it!' is succinct and powerful and ushers addicts, like bulimics, down the road of freedom in Christ and away from the road to bondage. Those two words (Stop it!) are keys to opening the mind and heart to consider what's at stake and whether or not to work a little harder NOW and fight the urge to splurge and purge, or to switch to 'auto' and wait for tomorrow's food hangover to hit? There is a choice to make every time a bulimic temptation arises: 'Stop it!' or 'Go on.'

  2. Thank you! I debated whether or not to post this, as the skit is humorous and I didn't want to hurt any of my readers by making light of their struggle. Bulimia is a painful bondage, no one realizes that better than I myself. I do not want to hurt anyone who's already broken enough.

    But, on further thought, after seeing Challies' blog on the very same clip, I realized this was completely in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 14:20 and 15:34. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  3. There may be a Scriptural example of the idea to 'Stop it!' found in Titus 2:11-12. The NIV goes right along with this theme: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say, 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

  4. I just got back from a retreat that talked about the desires that hurt you. This was the perfect thing to read after it.


Thanks for visiting! Please leave me a message, share your testimony, or feel free to ask questions. Anonymous comments are welcome. Or e-mail me privately at marie4thtimemom@yahoo.com.