Jerry Bridges is a gospel doctor. I always exit his books feeling convicted of my sins and encouraged in the gospel. The Pursuit of Holiness is his classic work, it does this perhaps better than any. Early on Jerry identifies three basic problem areas in realtion to holiness. I give you these as a teaser.
Our first problem is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own “victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it is offensive to God.
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 is a subtle, self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin. Until we face this attitude and deal with it, we will not consistently walk in holiness.
This is not to say God doesn’t want us to experience victory, but rather to emphasize that victory is a byproduct of obedience. As we concentrate on living an obedient, holy life, we will certainly experience the joy of victory over sin.
Our second problem is that we have misunderstood “living by faith” (Galatians 2:20) to mean that no effort at holiness is required on our part. In fact, sometimes we have even suggested that any effort on our part is “of the flesh.”
Our third problem is that we do not take some sin seriously. We have mentally categorized sins into that which is unacceptable and that which may be tolerated a bit.
Are we willing to call sin “sin” not because it is big or little, but because God’s law forbids it? We cannot categorize sin if we are to live a life of holiness. God will not let us get away with that kind of attitude.