Monday, June 15, 2009

Book Notes: The Pursuit of Holiness

The first book that I finished on study break was The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. What a great read! I had started it before study break, but finished reading while I was gone. I was so challenged by Bridges' compelling case for biblical holiness. I hope and pray that while we preach grace as a church, we do it in such a way that we do not give license for sin. God cares about our holiness, commands our holiness, and works in us to bring about holiness. Here are the notes I took from Bridges' book - hope these help in your own journey toward Christlikeness:

  • Modern evangelical Christians have fallen into the trap of believing that “walking by faith” means that we have no responsibility for personal holiness – that God is the only One who works out our holiness. We simply do not take some sins seriously, having created classes of sins, with some being acceptable and others not.
  • We can become so accustomed to some sins in our life that we lapse into a peaceful coexistence with our sin, but God never ceases to hate all sin because He is eternally, perfectly holy.
  • Holiness is not optional for the follower of Jesus Christ, but required for fellowship with God, our own personal well-being, effective service for God, and assurance of our own salvation.
  • God has given us the potential to resist sin by the work of Christ, but He has then given the responsibility to resist sin to the believer. When we sin as Christians, we do not sin because we are slaves to sin anymore, but as individuals with the freedom to choose in Christ. We sin because we choose to sin.
  • We must guard our hearts because they are so deceitful on their own, they can lead us astray toward sin. We are first drawn away from watchfulness, then away from obedience. Indwelling sin is always looking for an excuse to abuse grace from God.
  • To daily walk in holiness, we must be content with the circumstances that God has brought us in life, but discontent with the disobedience in our own lives toward the perfect standards of God. We must not fall into the trap of thinking that intellectual consent with Scripture is equal to obedience to Scripture.
  • To daily walk in holiness, we must first have personal convictions that are informed by God’s Word. Then, we must develop personal commitment to obey those convictions. For areas where Scripture is not clear, we must develop personal convictions by answering the following questions: (1) is it helpful to me physically, mentally, and spiritually? (2) does it bring me under its power? (3) does it hurt others? (4) does it glorify God?
  • Holiness only comes from a disciplined life, especially in the area of daily studying, reading, and memorizing God’s Word. This discipline must lead to application. Three key questions for application: (1) what does this passage teach about God’s will for holiness in my life? (2) how does my life measure up specifically to this standard? (3) what definite steps do I need to take to obey?
  • Personal holiness should include self-control with our physical bodies, purity in our inner-life (our emotions, motives, and attitudes), and the building of godly habits.
  • Living a holy life in a unholy world is ultimately an act of faith, because it says that I believe that God’s ways are better than the ways of the world, and I believe that He will reward me for making the right choices.
  • Finally, we must not forget that ultimate joy comes from living a holy life – the joy of daily walking with God and honoring Him as our Maker.

Thanks, Jerry, for these awesome, challenging thoughts about holiness. I recommend this one to everybody!

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