The disciple of Christ has a new attitude toward their personal sin. Others’ sins might bother him and society’s ills might be personally discouraging and inflaming, but suddenly he sees that the biggest problem in the entire world is his own sin. Like David, he cries out,
“For I know my transgressions,and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Psalm 51:3-4).
Usually, after the first light of the Holy Spirit shines in the believers heart, the sensitivity to personal sin becomes enormous. As a matter of fact, on a number of occasions, I have heard young believers bemoan the fact that they didn’t realize that they had so much sin in their lives. Others have stated that they were happier as non-Christians because they could sin and not feel so badly or be convicted by it. The growing disciple hates his sin. He begins to acknowledge his sin more readily. He begins to think, “I have more sin than I thought I did. I didn’t know that I could sin so much.”
The disciple of Christ, ultimately, wanting to please the Savior so much, does not desire to be stained or ruined by personal sins, sins that he knows Christ died for. Holiness involves dying to sin and living for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). Growth in holiness means “putting sin to death” (mortification, see Colossians 3:5-9) and seeking all the means necessary to live for Christ (vivification, see Colossians 3:1-4, 10-14).
The Christian disciple who pursues holy living recognizes that his greatest enemies are the lust of the flesh (sensualism), the lust of the eyes (materialism) and the boastful pride of life (egoism) as well as the world (i.e., the unbelieving world and its principles that are antagonistic to God), the flesh and the devil (see 1 John 2:16). As the believer recognizes that he is secure “in Christ,” he is able to pursue the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). He knows that Christ is his victory and failure is not the end. He loves the law as a means to guide him in a life that is pleasing to God. He wants to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:14-15).
Rod Culbertson is presently Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Dean of Student Development at the Charlotte, North Carolina campus of Reformed Theological Seminary. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and received the Master of Divinity degree from Columbia International University. He married his wife, Cathy, in 1979 and they have 4 grown children. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America, Rod served at the University of Florida as a campus minister with Reformed University Fellowship for almost 10 years, having begun that work in 1980. In 1990, Rod and Cathy moved their family to Clearwater, Florida where the Lord used them to start a new PCA church, Christ Community Presbyterian. Rod and his family came to Reformed Theological Seminary/Charlotte in 1994. Rod has earned a Doctor of Ministry degree at RTS and teaches courses in Leadership, Pastoral Ministry, Evangelism and Discipleship, among others.