Christians are painfully aware of the prevalence of sin in the world. Everywhere we look we see ample evidence of the sinful heart of man. Worse is the awareness of sin in our own hearts. The danger is that we become accustomed to sin and do not grieve over it as we should. Continuing our Spiritual Check-up we ask: 8. Do you grieve over sin?
1. The holiness of God
Fundamental to God’s self-revelation in Scripture is his holiness. The call of the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3 is ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty’ – the 3-fold repetition indicates the perfection of that holiness. ‘Holy’ in the Bible has the root meaning of ‘separation’. As Creator, God is separate from all created things. This involves his moral separation from all that is contrary to his holy nature (Habakkuk 1:13). That holiness has been made visible in Christ (1 Peter 1:19). As image-bearers of God we are to be holy people. The goal of salvation is the restoration of the image of God lost in Adam. Holiness is crucial for us.
2. The process of sanctification
Notice the goal of Christ’s redeeming work according to Titus 2:14. Thus holiness is central for Christians. We speak of ‘sanctification’, which in Scripture has 2 dimensions:
(i) Definitive sanctification. When we are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, the dominion of sin is broken for ever. That is the significance of ‘you were sanctified’ (1 Corinthians 6:11), and Romans 6:14 gives a great promise – ‘sin shall not be your master’.
(ii) Progressive sanctification. Building on the victory of definitive sanctification, the Spirit gradually remakes us in heart and life in the likeness of the Saviour (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are called to be active in this work – ‘be holy in all you do’ (1 Peter 1:15). As we use the means of grace, the Spirit blesses them to us and we grow in holiness. The secret is always ‘it is God who works in you’ (Philippians 2:13).
3. The seriousness of sin
We must not allow the attitudes of the world to blunt our perception of the seriousness of sin. We must see it as God sees it. A mark of grace is a holy hatred of sin, reflecting God’s attitude (Habakkuk 1:13). The psalmist’s words should be ours – Psalm 97:10, 119:104. We should grieve over the sin we see in the world (Psalm 119:136) and in fellow believers Chiefly we are to grieve over our own sin, but not in despair. We need the ‘godly sorrow’ of 2 Corinthians 7:10) which leads to repentance and forgiveness. The solution to our grief over sin is always ready to hand.
4. The prospect of perfection
We long for freedom from sin and that longing for perfection will be satisfied at the last day when sanctification will be complete (Philippians 1:6). We ‘shall be like him’ (1 John 3:2).