As a supplement to my devotions, I picked up a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. It’s a “3-in-1” book by Jerry Bridges – The Pursuit of Holiness, its Bible Study, and The Practice of Holiness. The first chapter of The Pursuit of Holiness dealt with holiness and its relation to sin. There were three points made, which I have written below.
-Our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered.
There are many times (too many) when I am tempted with sin and I look to myself as the one responsible for getting out of that mess. While there is responsibility that we have in our decisions on sin, we cannot view ourselves as the one conquering the sin or temptation. When I do so, I fail every time. The taste is bitter – I knew the sin was there, I saw it clearly, yet I still succumbed to it. I viewed it as a failure on my end to be a “good Christian” and conquer sin and its temptations.
Throughout the New Testament we are called to servants and slaves of Christ. What do servants and slaves do? They obey their master. They do not conquer, but obey. Likewise, we as servants and slaves to God are called to obey, not conquer. We cannot conquer sin – if we could do so, there would be no need for Jesus’ sacrifice. But by obeying God’s will and allowing Him to shape our life, and by doing so He conquers sin through us. This is something I must constantly remind myself as I am faced with challenges day by day….
-We have misunderstood “living by faith” (Galatians 2:20) to mean that no effort at holiness is required on our part.
After discussing point 1, it is easy to say “well I’ll just sit back and let God take care of all my troubles, then.” That is not a good place to be. We cannot change ourselves into a better image of Christ; however we have a responsibility to strive for the holy walk. Our attitude can either be one of “okay God, I showed up” or one of “here am I, send me.” In our heart, do we really want to be better servants of Christ? If so, we will be active in our walk. We will commune with God through prayer. We’ll learn about Him through His Word. We’ll reflect Him in our actions throughout life. This is what God calls us to, and we must submit ourselves to that – we cannot do so unless we are making an effort daily to put off the old man and put on the new.
-We do not take some sin seriously.
This is another big one for me. Each society has a different culprit in this, but the principle is the same. Speeding happens to be one for me that I do, mostly without even paying attention. When I exceed the speed limit, I am breaking the law, and defying the authority God has placed over me. What do I do when I speed? I shrug, and slow down to an acceptable speed. No harm done – I didn’t hit anyone, no one saw me, it’s all good. Or is it? Sin is sin – this is pointed out throughout the Bible. Why do we create a list of “lesser” sins, then? In my experiences with this topic, it’s so I can “get away” with sin, and not surrender my full heart to God. Because when I do that, I’m going to see a lot of things I don’t want to see. God judges all sin – actions that do not bring glory and honor to Him. As a reflection of God’s glory, why should my standard be any different?
Because I wrote an article on these issues does not mean I’ve “mastered” them. I am working through these, and wanted to share my thoughts with you guys. As I continue to work through the book I will post articles like these if you guys find them edifying. They certainly help me to solidify the concepts of the book in my mind, and help me to meditate upon them.
Comments/questions/criticisms/complaints are welcome. :)