The Idol of Holiness

It is possible for someone to take a valid and Biblical approach to a spiritual exercise, and carry it so far that it distorts and stretches into something altogether unbiblical, even idolatrous.  At ChurchSalt, we highly encourage those professing Christ to heed Paul’s warning when he tells us to “examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith”.  We also like to point people to the book of 1st John for practical direction on how to examine ourself, a book that was written “so that you will know if you know Him.”  But this practice can be stretched and distorted into something idolatrous.  If we are constantly focused on self-examination, our sanctification will become our hope.  How often we do “good” and how often we avoid doing “bad” will become the object of our focus, and it will become the hope of our salvation.  This is a position that belongs to Christ alone.  It is He that paid for our sins and offered us un-deserved grace, and it is He and His gospel message that should be our focus and our hope.  When we drive a car our attention should be forward, but we should make regular glances in the mirror.  Likewise the Christian’s life should be focused on Christ and His work, and we should glance in the mirror from time to time as Paul and John tell us in order to examine our faith.  As Christ brings about Holiness in us, we cannot begin to focus primarily upon it as though it were Holiness that brings about salvation.  Remember, the same person who told us to examine ourselves (Paul in  2 Corinthians 13:5) also tells us in Philippians 3:13 (when speaking of perfection in Christ) this, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”  I would like to encourage you to examine yourself (ironically) to see if your hope lies inward in the changes Christ is bringing about, or if your hope lies outward, in Christ, as you press forward closer to Him every day.

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