Virtue versus Holiness

Dear Reader,

In my previous post on God’s law, I talked about how God’s law is a whole. We can boil it down into specific directives (“do not steal”, “do not murder”, etc), but it is a whole and if you break one part, you are a law-breaker. Our ultimate goal is not to be able to check off a list of do’s and don’ts but to be holy.

I would like to relate this idea to a story that came out recently. I am sorry I don’t have the source handy but I know I read it a couple of places. It said that when people do something good for the environment–buy a hybrid car, for instance, or recycle–then they feel free to be less virtuous in other areas. They may for instance be rude to others because they feel good about themselves for living green. Now my point is not to beat up on environmentalists. I do think we should be good stewards of God’s creation. What intrigued me is how we are able to dull our consciences. If we are “good” in one area, then our consciences are assuaged and do not prick us as they should when we sin in other areas.

The study I read about was specifically about people who try to live green. But I wonder if sometimes we do this as Christians too. If we meet some standard in one area, do we feel less bound to be obedient in other areas? If, for instance, we bake our own bread and homeschool our kids and dress modestly, do we use this as an excuse to be less holy in other areas? I am not accusing particular people here. But it is easy to see how we might fool ourselves by thinking that if we keep certain standards that are held up to us as particularly Christian and right, then we might let ourselves go in other areas.  We can become so bogged down in lists if what is and isn’t acceptable in our Christina circles that we forget that our ultimate goal is holiness.   Certainly, it is not s standard we can ever achieve in this life, but we must nonetheless strive for it.  It is about a state of our heart and character, not about how we educate our children or dress or whether we make all our meals from scratch.


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