Thursday, May 28, 2009

Defining the Struggle for Holiness

In my quiet time lately, I've been reading in the book of Joshua, and I've been spending time slowly reading through Jerry Bridges' classic on the pursuit of holiness. Bridges' clarity and style are so friendly, yet so challenging. You feel like Bridges is sitting with you across a cup of coffee at Starbucks, speaking to you as a caring mentor, yet pegging you right between the eyes with biblical observations that cut to the heart.

One of Bridges' greatest insights is how the contemporary church (and therefore most contemporary pastors) speaks about sin. Bridges correctly analyzes our approach to sin as those decisions, thoughts, etc. that hinder us from being the person God wants us to be - in other words, sin and holiness become caught up in victory and defeat language. Am I being all that I can be (victorious living) or am I allowing sin to leave me in defeat?

The problem with this view of sin is that it redefines sin around me instead of God. The reason sin is so devastating and deadly is not that it keeps from realizing my potential, but because it offends a Holy God. Sin should be important to us not because we care about self-realization and self-maximization, but because we care about offending the holiness of God, about disobeying the law of God.

The question needs to change from "Am I living victoriously?" to "Am I living obediently?" God should be the object of our devotion, not ourselves.

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