Book Review – Diehard Sins: How to Fight Wisely against Destructive Daily Habits

I’ve got this song stuck in my head, and it’s Rush Witt’s fault. It has been on repeat in my head for days now. “O be careful little eyes what you see / O be careful little eyes what you see…”If you end up reading this book—and I think you should—you’ll end up with the same melody. But it’ll be worth it. More on all that in a moment…

Not long ago, a friend in ministry asked me if I would be interested in reading a book and sharing my review of it. Turns out that book was Diehard Sins: How to Fight Wisely against Destructive Daily HabitsI was delighted when the book was sent to me because I had the feeling right away that this book would not only be helpful to me in ministry, it would also minister to my own soul. And I was right.

Diehard Sins is a book written for believers engaged in a fight for their lives. Thankfully, we believers are not in a fight for our justification. Justification is an amazing gift from God and one that we receive by faith alone. We are, however, in a fight against sin, and in a fight for holiness, and that fight is for something we might simply call the Christian life. In Diehard Sins, Rush, like any faithful pastor or good counselor, resources the reader and readies them for their fight against daily sin.

In part 1, we’re called to enter joyfully into our struggle against daily sin patterns. In these chapters, Rush covers the reason for the battle (i.e., sin!), how we can rest in the gospel yet should never be content with the presence of remaining sin in our lives, and what entering into the fight with joy should look like, practically.

In part 2, Rush endeavors to help the reader get to know the inner workings of his own heart, and it’s here in these chapters that Rush explains the need for bringing the Word of God to bear on our beliefs and our desires. Because our “diehard sins” are so enmeshed into our hearts, and because they have such a great impact on who or what rules our hearts, it is important that we regularly “practice sin detection” in order to engage well in our fight against remaining sin in our lives.

Then, in part 3, which is my favorite part of the book, Rush helps the reader understand how they can bring Christ and his many provisions into the fight against diehard sins.

In my time in local church ministry, I have occasionally wondered whether I’m equipped well enough—gifted sufficiently enough—to help someone who is in the midst of a significant sin struggle, whether it is an acute occasion or a pattern of stubborn sin. I have often sat down with struggling, sometimes broken, believers and have had to very closely watch them struggle. I have often been thankful that they are willing to enter into the struggle, rather than throw their hands up, giving up and embracing their sin. But, I have wondered, at times, why the struggle seems to soldier on. Why do so many sins seem to die hard? And, part of my wonder about all of this probably has something to do with how well I am acquainted with my own diehard sins.

But a few years ago, I began reading books on biblical counseling and attended a few related conferences. One of the very best things I learned in that process was the importance of grounding everything I did in counseling on Scripture, trusting the sufficiency of the Word, for the Word is what is useful in bringing Christlike change to life, and for giving real and lasting hope. And, in helping people enter into the struggle against sin, they need to understand what’s at stake and why the battle is so difficult. They need to understand that putting sin to death and nurturing Christlikeness isn’t simply about behavioral change, it’s about addressing the heart. The fight against our sin is in partnership with the Lord Jesus Christ’s fight for our hearts. And our Savior has graciously given us immense and glorious gospel treasures to supply our every need for our lifelong fight against sin.

This is a very practical battle plan:
1.) What is the problem? Why is it so destructive and dangerous? Why must we fight against it?
2.) This sin is rearing its ugly head in various ways. What is the root of the problem? What’s going on in our hearts?
3.) Let’s list out the gospel treasures God has resourced us with, thank God for them, and deploy them as we joyfully enter into the struggle.

That’s what this book is about. But it brings the “how to” into our personal, daily lives, resourcing every reader with what they need to joyfully engage in the fight against their diehard sins. Rush has even included three very helpful and practical appendices for putting these three steps into action. They alone are worth the price of the book if you ask me! I consider this book to be a personal treasure—one that has helped me to see afresh that I have some diehard sins that I have been putting up with because they just won’t die.  Furthermore, this work has reminded me that God intends for my struggle to result in greater amazement of the gospel, greater love for Christ and discontentedness with my own sin.  And finally, that others around me need to read this book, and I need to offer it to them because there are precious truths in it that will be a great comfort and teacher to fellow pilgrims along the way.

With that song still stuck in my head, I’ll end my review this way: Rush writes, “Be careful little heart what you believe,” is something we must often remind ourselves, if we’re going to fight remaining sin with any victory, because our “beliefs shape our everything” (122). Diehard Sins feeds the heart with rich, biblically faithful doctrinal truth, and if our right “beliefs lead us closer to God,” then this book will do well to lead us faithfully into the fight against remaining sin as well.

Reviewed by Kevin Schaub