Me-Centered Holiness

by Jason Cunningham

If holiness is such an important part of Christianity why aren’t we experiencing it more in our daily life? Why is it that so many Christians feel defeated by sin and the church seems to conform more to the world than it does to God?

Let's first look at our attitude towards sin. Do we think of sin as a self-centered issue or a God-centered issue? Are we more concerned about our personal victory over sin or that our sin is offensive to God? In order to grow in holiness, we must see that sin is destructive and offensive. Sin destroys our relationship with God and with others.

W.S. Plumer said: “We never see sin aright until we see it as against God…All sin is against God in this sense: that it is His law that is broken, His authority that is despised, His government that is set at naught...Pharaoh and Balaam, Saul, and Judas each said, 'I have sinned', but the returning prodigal son said, 'I have sinned against heaven and before thee'; and David said, 'Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned.'"

The prodigal son and David hit it right on the head. They understand not just the consequences of their sin, but also the sinfulness of their sin. They have sinned against and offended a holy God. The Lord calls us to walk in obedience to him, not to focus on personal victory. 

Obedience is oriented towards the Holy One who deserves obedience. “Personal victory over sin” can often be focused on the self. To be sure, when we grow in holiness we will have victory over sin and we will grow in joy. The difference in attitude is subtle yet profound.

Peter writes, the children of God are called to be holy in everything we do and what needs to preface that calling is a reverent fear of Him while we exist as temporary residents on this earth. What would motivate us to fear him? The fact that God paid the ransom for our sinful debt by the precious blood of his son, aka the Lamb, long before the world began – and God is worthy of that fear. Ask yourself, do I repent of sin because I hate it’s destructiveness within my relationship with my Father or do I repent because I’m concerned about how my sin is affecting me?