The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 2

HolinessBookClub

Welcome to the second week/lesson of “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges. {Affiliate link.}

For this week, we’re looking at chapter 3, called, Holiness Is Not an Option. The main verse is from Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

This chapter begins by pointing out two truths from Scripture:

  1. No matter how “good” we are, we can never earn salvation by any personal holiness. Even our best efforts at living a good life fall infinitely short of good enough. (Isaiah 64:6)
  2. Jesus Christ, being perfectly obedient and righteous, took us – our sins and unrighteousness – upon Himself, and was obedient and righteous for us. (Romans 5:19 & 1 Peter 3:18)

Jerry points out that Jesus had what they call an active obedience and a passive obedience. Active obedience refers to Jesus’ sinless life here on earth. His perfect life is credited to us who trust in Him for our salvation. He lived it for us. Passive obedience is Jesus’ death on the cross where He paid the penalty for our sins. He took the death penalty for us.

“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10

So, in looking closer at Hebrews 12:14, Jerry asks whether that verse is referring to the holiness we have in Christ. He concludes that no, the writer is speaking of a holiness that we have to strive after, without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews1214

Friends, that’s huge. There is both a holiness that comes from faith, trust and belief in Jesus…and there’s a holiness which we are to strive after. Many times, we believe one extreme or the other. Some people think they can earn their way to salvation (heaven) by good works/deeds/lives. On the other end, some people think all we have to do is believe in Jesus for salvation. While there’s more truth in the second, since faith in Jesus would give us His holy covering, that’s only part of the picture.

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”
1 Thessalonians 4:7

“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…”
1 Corinthians 1:2

Jerry says, “So the writer in Hebrews is telling us to take seriously the necessity of personal, practical holiness. When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at our salvation, He comes to make us holy in practice. If there is not, then, at least a yearning in our hearts to live a holy life pleasing to God, we need to seriously question whether our faith in Christ is genuine. True salvation brings with it a desire to be made holy. He not only saves us from the penalty of sin, but also from its dominion.”

Ephesians 1:4 gives us the whole purpose of our salvation, which is to be “holy and blameless in his sight.” Living in sin is contrary to God’s purpose for our salvation.

Jerry hits five points about holiness:

  1. “Holiness, then, is not necessary as a condition of salvation – that would be salvation by works – but as a part of salvation that is received by faith in Christ.” “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:11-12 And James 2:14-26 says faith that does not result in works (a holy life) is dead.
  2. “Holiness then is required for fellowship with God. When we are holding on to some sin, we are not pursuing holiness and we cannot have fellowship with God. (Psalm 66:18) God does not require a perfect, sinless life to have fellowship with Him, but He does require that we be serious about holiness, that we grieve over sin in our lives instead of justifying it, and that we earnestly pursue holiness as a way of life.”
  3. “Holiness is also required for our own well-being. When God speaks to us about some sin, we need to heed and take action. To fail to deal with that sin is to risk incurring His hand of discipline.”
  4. “Holiness is also necessary for effective service to God. Holiness and usefulness are linked together. (2 Timothy 2:21) The One who makes our service effective and who empowers us for service is the Holy Spirit. When we indulge our sinful natures and dwell in unholiness, the Spirit of God is grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and will not prosper our service.”
  5. “Holiness also is necessary for our assurance of salvation – not at the moment of salvation, but over the course of our lives. True faith will always show itself by its fruits. The only safe evidence that we are in Christ is a holy life. If we know nothing of holiness, we may flatter ourselves that we are Christians but we do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.”

Here are some questions to ponder in your own life:

  • Is there evidence of practical holiness in my life?
  • Do I desire and strive after holiness?
  • Do I grieve over my lack of it and earnestly seek the help of God to be holy?

The chapter closes with a very sobering paragraph:

“It is not those who profess to know Christ who will enter heaven, but those whose lives are holy. Even those who do ‘great Christian works’ will not enter heaven unless they also do the will of God. (Matthew 7:21-23)”

Some verses to look up on your own:

What do these verses teach about our holy standing before God?

  • Romans 5:19
  • Hebrews 10:10
  • 1 Peter 3:18

What do these verses teach about holy living?

  • Ephesians 4:1 & 30
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:7
  • Titus 2:11-12

From these verses, why is holiness not optional?

  • Psalm 66:18
  • Romans 8:13-14
  • 2 Timothy 2:21
  • 1 John 1:6

Consider Hebrews 12:14. What further efforts do you need to make toward holiness in your life? What application of these truths do you want make in your life?