The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 1

 

HolinessBookClub

Whew, it’s been a whirlwind few days…although I did spring for a nap on Sunday afternoon. I chose to rest instead of trying to get this blog post out. Sometimes you have to chose grace. So I apologize for not getting this posted on Friday.

The kids had a delayed start on Friday and my whole day was thrown off. Not to mention that I’m the homeroom mom for my oldest daughter’s class and had to run the Valentine’s party later that day. Then we traveled to see family for part of the weekend. I rested a lot on Sunday, not even going to church because of the Arctic Tundra coldness. We had a “RealFeel” of -37 degrees F! Monday, school was cancelled due to the cold. I hadn’t planned on going anywhere today, but my day unfolded by needing to do a few errands, which ended up including lunch with my hubs. I love lunch with my hubs, but again, the day didn’t go as planned. Now finally at supper time I’m sitting down to write!

I promise I’ll try my best to get the rest of the book club posts out on Fridays, but I ask for grace if it doesn’t always happen. Just know that if it’s not on Friday, I’ll get it up asap after that.


Welcome! I’m so happy to have you along with me to take a deeper look at what holiness means and how to live a holy life. You can read the introduction I wrote HERE. I hope you have a copy of the book…because it’s awesome. But if not, you won’t be lost.

The first lesson in the study guide, “Holiness Is For You,” recommends reading the first two chapters for the discussion.

Jerry Bridges points out that the word “holy” (and it’s various forms) is found over 600 times in the Bible. In fact, God commands us to live holy lives.

The dangers or wrong ways of looking at holiness include:

  • Becoming legalistic (living by strict rules) and having a self-righteous attitude when we do something right and someone else does not.
  • Thinking that a particular way of dressing or certain mannerisms (outward appearances) are superior.
  •  Having a notion that holiness is unattainable perfection that leads to delusion or discouragement about the sins you struggle with.

Do you identify with any of those ideas about holiness? I particularly do about the first point, always striving to live like a “goody-goody” and sometimes having a hard time accepting and loving people who are clearly “unholy.” I’m working on loving everyone I encounter and not judging or thinking I’m “better than.” I know no one is perfect and I’m only commanded to love and leave judging to God. I have also felt discouragement about certain sins before, wondering whether I’ll ever have victory on earth over them. Like many Christians today, I tend to fall fast into the arms of Grace. But why would I dare think there would be any more grace for me than for anyone else? Furthermore, why wouldn’t I be trying harder to separate myself from sin, instead of relying so much on grace, which should function more as a backup parachute than the main parachute?

So here’s how Jerry defines holiness:

“To be holy is to be morally blameless. It is to be separated from sin and, therefore, consecrated to God. To live a holy life, then, is to live a life in conformity to the moral precepts of the Bible and in contrast to the sinful ways of the world. ‘It is to live a life characterized by the “[putting] off of your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…and [putting] on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.’ (Eph. 4:22, 24)”

Jerry says there are three problems we have with holiness:

  1. Our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. “We are more concerned about our own ‘victory’ over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God.” {Ouch!} “God wants us to walk in obedience – not victory…victory is a byproduct of obedience. Will you decide to obey God in all areas of life, however insignificant the issue may be?”
  2. We have misunderstood “living by faith” (Gal. 2:20) to mean that no effort at holiness is required on our part. “In fact, sometimes we have even suggested that any effort on our part is ‘of the flesh.’ We must face the fact that we have a personal responsibility for our walk of holiness. Will you begin to take personal responsibility for your sin, realizing that as you do, you must depend on the grace of God?”
  3. We do not take some sin seriously. “Are we willing to call sin ‘sin’ not because it is big or little, but because God’s law forbids it? We cannot categorize sin if we are to live a life of holiness. God will not let us get away with that kind of attitude. Will you begin to look at sin as an offense against a holy God, instead of as a personal defect only?”

Reflect on which of these problems is most evident in your life.


God’s Holiness

To be gripped by the vileness and offensiveness of sin against our pure, holy God is the first step in our pursuit of holiness.

God is holy ~ it’s one of His attributes and part of His character. “Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God. As used in Scripture, holiness describes both the majesty of God and the purity and moral perfection of His nature.” God not only knows the right thing to do, but can only do the right thing. God is absent of all evil, always just and right.

This opens the can of worms about doubting God’s perfect character and His justice when bad things happen to us or to others. This is where our faith comes in to play. Jerry incudes a quote from Stephen Charnock who said, “he that saith God is not holy speaks much worse than he that saith there is no God at all.” That’s quite a statement, but holiness is the essence of Who God Is. Holiness is the perfection of all His other qualities…holy power, holy mercy, holy wisdom, etc. His holiness is what makes Him worthy of our praise.

God cannot overlook or excuse any sin, no matter how small. No, “well, that’s just the way I am,” or, “well, I’m still growing in that area of my life.” God hates sin, and the more we grow in holiness the more we hate sin. Jerry says, “He hates our lustful thoughts, our pride and jealousy, our outbursts of temper, and our rationalization that the end justifies the means. We need to be gripped by the fact that God hates all these things. We become so accustomed to our sins we sometimes lapse into a state of peaceful coexistence with them, but God never ceases to hate them.” We’re on “autopilot” too much, not actively taking every thought, emotion, motive, and attitude captive.

Jerry points out that God hates sin, both in sinners and saints alike. He doesn’t hate it in one person and overlook it in another. He doesn’t rank sins on a scale…they’re all equally detestable. We also shouldn’t entertain notions of going ahead with sin because we can always ask forgiveness later.

Love, (both God’s love for us and our love for God), should be our primary motivation to live a holy life. However, Jerry says, “But a motivation prompted by God’s hatred of sin and His consequent judgment on it is no less biblical.”

He continues, “The holiness of God is an exceedingly high standard, a perfect standard. But it is nevertheless one that He holds us to. He cannot do less. While it is true that He accepts us solely through the merit of Christ, God’s standard for our character, attitudes, affections, and actions is, ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ We must take this seriously if we are to grow in holiness.”

Here are some Bible verses about God’s holiness:

  • Exodus 15:11
  • Leviticus 19:1-2
  • Psalm 89:35
  • Isaiah 57:15
  • 1 Peter 1:14-16
  • Habakkuk 1:13
  • Zechariah 8:17
  • James 1:13

You can look them up if you want to study God’s holiness further.

Write down scriptural truths you want to apply, including a practical, specific statement and plan for making the application.

Ephesians Chapters 1 & 2

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4 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 1

  1. Pingback: The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 3 | Kristen Hamilton

  2. Pingback: The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 4 | Kristen Hamilton

  3. Pingback: The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 9 | Kristen Hamilton

  4. Pingback: The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 11 | Kristen Hamilton

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