Thursday, March 5, 2009

How is your relationship with Sin? Preliminary

To fully grasp this series it is recommended that you read the post directly preceding this one entitled, "How is your relationship with Sin? Introduction"

I apologize for the delay. I wanted to make sure this next post was adequate and thorough. Due to the attention from the last post I thought it would be beneficial to discuss a few preliminary issues before diving into the first principle. I do apologize for its length, but I was unable to shorten it further without omitting information I find helpful in my own quest for holiness. I would love to dialogue with you.


In some circles, holiness is equated with a series of specific prohibitions—usually in such areas as smoking, drinking, and dancing. The list of prohibitions varies depending on the group. When we follow this approach to holiness we are in danger of becoming like the Pharisees with their endless list of do’s and don’ts, and their self-righteous attitude. For others, holiness means a particular style of dress and mannerisms. And for still others, it means an unattainable perfection, an idea that fosters either delusion or discouragement about one’s sins. All of these ideas, while accurate to some degree, miss the true concept. To be holy is to be morally blameless. It is to be separated from sin and, therefore, consecrated to God. The word signifies separation to God, and the conduct appropriate for those so separated.

Jerry Bridges writes, "This call to a holy life is based on the fact that God Himself is holy. Because God is holy, He requires that we be holy. Many Christians have what we might call a "cultural holiness." They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them. As the Christian culture is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy. But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like Himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God."

Thus, to begin with, I want to make sure that we are all on the same page concerning the definition and nature of sin. Sin is not based on prohibitions, but is that which is contrary to the person, character, and nature of God. For instance, Why is lying wrong? Some would say that lying is wrong because of the consequences—it hurts others, destroys relationships, the Bible says so, etc. None of these are correct. Including the reasoning that lying is wrong because the Bible says, “Thou shalt not lie.” Lying is not wrong because the Bible says so. The Bible says so because it is. Lying is against the person, character and nature of God—who is truth (John 14:6). Another example would be murder. Murder is wrong because it is against God’s nature as the Creator of life. Thus, to see sin correctly, we must see as against who God is. Sin is what God is not.

Second, I want to make sure we are all on the same page concerning works of righteousness. There is nothing we could do to obtain right standing before God. Again, Jerry Bridges wrote that many Christians often confuse the potential for resisting (which God provided through Christ) with the responsibility for resisting (which is ours).

Concerning the potential to resist: All humans fall short of God’s standard of holiness (Romans 3:23). We were dead in our sin and did not have the potential to resist. (Romans 5:12-14). Sin entered the world through Adam and death came through sin. Sin caused the souls of mankind to die and to be separated from God. The penalty of Adam’s sin in the Garden was death (Romans 6:23). Even if someone wanted to pay the price of their sin, they could not because dead men cannot pay the price of sin (death) for they are already dead. Since the price to be offered is death, then the price has to be paid by Someone who is alive.

That is why He is called Savior. Jesus was the only one who could possibly die because He was the only one to ever be born alive for He was without sin (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15). “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Just as Adam’s one act of sin brought death and condemnation, Christ’s one act of righteousness brought life and reconciliation for mankind (Romans 5:18). Christ redeemed us and set us free from the dominion of sin (Romans 6:22). When one repents and turns from their sin confessing Christ as Lord, they obtain right standing before God (Romans 10:9-10). His righteousness is credited to them.

Third, as a result of what Christ did on the cross, believers now have the potential and responsibility to resist sin. We have been adopted into God’s family (Romans 8). Knowing that sin is against who God is and knowing that it was what separated us from Him to begin with, we have a responsibility to resist and strive for holiness. God did not redeem us from the consequences of sin but sin itself (One does not choose heaven or hell. Those are the consequences. One chooses to follow Christ and is thus, redeemed from sin). He redeemed us to bring us into His family and to make us like Himself. That is why God is persistent in the process of sanctification.

Peter Kreeft writes, “The surgeon who does not cut out the cancer is not kind but cruel. The God of mere kindness whom we long for, the Grandfather God who leaves us alone to enjoy ourselves rather than the Father God who constantly interrupts us and interferes with our lives is really not kind but cruel. The "cruel" God of the Bible is a God of battles. He fights a spiritual war for us against the demons of sin in us...The sword he comes to us with (Matthew 10:34) is a surgeon's scalpel, and THIS SURGEON'S HANDS ARE COVERED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD."

...Shaina Duncan, College Student
Editor of Revive and Awaken

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