“Hyphenated sins” by A.W. Tozer

“We have but to look in our own hearts and we shall see a veil there, sewn and patched and repaired it may be, but there nevertheless, an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress.

It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the ‘hyphenated’ sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do; they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.

To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention until the light of God is focused upon them.

The grosser manifestations of these sins – egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion – are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel.

I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the church visible. Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.

One should suppose that proper instruction in the doctrines of man’s depravity and the necessity for justification through the righteousness of Christ alone would deliver us from the power of the self-sins; but it does not work out that way.

Self can live unrebuked at the very altar. It can watch the bleeding victim die and not be in the least affected by what it sees. It can fight for the faith of the Reformers and preach eloquently the creed of salvation by grace, and gain strength by its efforts.

To tell all the truth, it seems actually to feed upon orthodoxy and is more at home in a Bible conference than in a tavern.”

–A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, in Three Spiritual Classics in One Volume (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1948), 253-254.

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