How Can My Desire for Holiness be Rooted in Arrogant Pride?

A friend challenged me yesterday to probe the possibility that my heart has been poisoned with a deadly spiritual toxin called self-pity.  I expressed frustration to my friend that I continued to experience setbacks in my life with sin and that I wanted so badly to change. I want to be holy! Sounds spiritual, doesn’t it?

His response was shocking, and went something like this: “McKay, I think your desire for change/holiness may not be for God’s glory, but for your own. It may be that your anger and self-loathing has its source not in a desire to bless others, but in self-pity, self-righteousness and arrogant pride.” In other words, I wanted to “be holy” so that I would not need Jesus—no need for His propitiatory blood. No need for imputed righteousness. No need for grace. My self-loathing was the fruit of a heart that desperately wants to avoid a personal need for the cross. Whoa

So last night I began a study into the darkness of my heart. I came across a helpful article by William Farley, The Poison of Self-Pity, which I have posted below, including my highlights (in case you only have time to skim).  His treatment does not explore in depth the self-pity involved in self-righteous self-loathing, but does provide insight into the symptoms, and the ultimate remedy, which he says, is a “fresh, penetrating view of the cross of Christ and all that it says about [my] sin and God’s love.”  For it is true, I am worse than I think I am. But praise God, I am more forgiven, loved and accepted than I can dare to dream. If I really believe that everything I have is of grace (and all that I don’t have is covered by grace, too), then there is no room for self-pity, self-loathing or arrogant pride. There is only room to boast in the cross and worship Jesus with thanksgiving and praise. 

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