Why You Don’t Need to Choose Between Happiness and Holiness

Randy Alcorn | December 8, 2015


As a young pastor I preached, as others still do, “God calls us to holiness, not happiness.” There’s a half-truth in this. I saw Christians pursue what they thought would make them happy, falling headlong into sexual immorality, alcoholism, materialism, and obsession with success.

I was attempting to oppose our human tendency to put preferences and convenience before obedience to Christ. It all sounded so spiritual, and I could quote countless authors and preachers who agreed with me.

I’m now convinced we were all dead wrong.

There were several flaws in my thinking, including inconsistency with my own experience. I’d found profound happiness in Christ; wasn’t that from God? Further, calling people to reject happiness in favor of holiness was ineffective. It might work for a while but not in the long run.

Tony Reinke gets it right: “Sin is joy poisoned. Holiness is joy postponed and pursued.”

Happiness Versus Holiness?

Consider Leviticus 9:24: “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” The radically holy God sent down fire, and they did what? They fell facedown . . . and “shouted…


To read the rest of this article, visit http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-you-dont-need-to-choose-between-happiness-and-holiness.