You shall be holy, for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:16)
If holiness is so basic to the Christian life, why do we not experience it more in daily living? Why do so many Christians feel constantly defeated in their struggle with sin? Why does the church of Jesus Christ so often seem to be more conformed to the world around it than to God?
Our first problem is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We’re more concerned about our own “victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve God’s heart. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it’s offensive to God.
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 said, ‘I have sinned against heaven and before thee’; and David said, ‘Against You, You only have I sinned.'” God wants us to walk in obedience—not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self. This may seem to be merely splitting hairs over semantics, but there’s a subtle, self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin. Until we deal with this attitude, we won’t consistently walk in holiness.
Victory is a by-product of obedience. As we concentrate on living an obedient, holy life, we’ll certainly experience the joy of victory over sin. Will you begin to look at sin as an offense against a holy God, instead of as a personal defeat only?