It hit me between the eyes as I drove down Highway 30 on my way home from Grand Island.
I was listening to ChristianAudio’s recording of Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness (Available for free this month!).
“Our first problem [with walking in holiness] 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.”
~Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness
The moment I heard it, I knew its truth.
Up until that moment, I had been fighting a self-centered battle with sin and hadn’t even realized it!
My fight for holiness wasn’t about glorifying God or abhorring the things that break His heart. It was about making myself look good, proving that I could do it, gaining victory over sin.
But Bridges’ reminds us:
“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.”
Say I had managed to gain victory over all those external sins I so want to conquer.
I could boast in my flesh–like the rich young ruler who tells Jesus that he has kept the commandments from his youth–but my boasting would quickly be brought to naught as Jesus reveals my secret idol.
I am my own greatest idol.
Every morning I wake up and bow at the altar of self. Every evening I return to offer self homage.
I offer a sacrifice on the altar. I bring the grain offerings. I keep the feasts.
My ablutions are not effective, my oblations not accepted.
I have offered my sacrifice to the wrong god.
Self instead of Christ.
Lord, have mercy upon my idolatrous soul–and teach me to treasure You above me.
Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words” is where bloggers collect quotes they’ve read throughout the week. Crying foul over my audiobook quoting? After a couple days of contemplating what I’d heard, I remembered that I’d picked up The Pursuit of Holiness at a used store a couple of months back. I started reading at the beginning–and was hit anew with the realization of my idolatrous fight with sin.