Mark Kleberg on Christian sin and the public reputation of the Christian faith:
I internalize and cover up my sin and weakness because I fear that any failure on my part implies a failure of Christianity. I must be perfect; otherwise Christianity is just a big flop, exposed as an elaborate hoax. The pressure is on and I must perform so that Christianity looks like a good buy.
This assumption is the exact opposite of the gospel. It is anti-gospel. To say that my failures somehow discredit Christianity completely disregards the cross! What pride and hypocrisy! Out of death we are made alive in Christ and our new identities are not bound up in our own righteousness, but rather the righteousness of Christ. It is by His perfection that we are presented as spotless before the Father. And while the Spirit does begin its healing work on our hearts, it is forever the work of Jesus that makes us children of God. I no longer have to disguise my sin for fear of nullifying the gospel. The gospel, rather, nullifies my sin, and frees me up to live as though transparent. The world can see through me- can see that I am needy and that there is a savior who triumphs over my brokenness.
I get what he's saying here, but Kleberg's train of thought could potentially devalue the importance of holiness. It is true that we should not be disguising our sin, rather we should not be doing it. Sanctification is a long process, but it is reasonable to conclude that Christianity is invalid if there is no discernible moral difference between Christians and non-Christians.
I found this post via David Wayne, who emphasizes redemption to the detriment of sanctification:
A good deal of the pressure we put on ourselves to perform is because of what he said - any failure on my part will taint the Christian faith as a whole. I think that is only true to the extent that I portray myself as perfect and portray Christianity as a religion whose goal is sinless perfection. This doesn't authorize carelessness about sin but it does reaffirm that Christianity is fundamentally a project of redemption, not a project of self-improvement.
But isn't Christianity "a religion whose goal is sinless perfection". If our goal is not sinlessness, then we are necessarily making compromises with sin.
Is Christianity, as David Wayne describes it, about redemption or improvement? I would answer "yes". This is a false dichotomy; there's no need to choose between the two. 1 Peter 1:13-19:
Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
We are redeemed, therefore let us be sinless.