The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Week 5
Wow, Friends! It’s already Tuesday night and I’m just posting what should have been this past Friday’s book club! Our Friday was filled with our kindergartener’s musical at school and family coming in to town for part of the weekend. By the time we got to Sunday afternoon when I could rest, I did! Yesterday was an impromptu lunch date with my hubby and later running our oldest to band practice and getting groceries. Ah, but grace!
“In the same way count yourselves dead to sin
but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Last week’s book club post ended on what could be a discouraging tone. We looked at how we are dead to sin and no longer its slave, (praise Jesus ~ awesome news!), however, that sin still lives in us because of our human sin natures. We have evil desires and our hearts are deceived. There is a war going on inside of us, if we have the Holy Spirit living in us, of holiness vs. sin.
Chapter seven, then, is filled with great news and hope. First, as Romans 6:11 states, we are dead to sin AND alive to God. Romans 6:18 says that we have become slaves of righteousness. What’s more, we are united with Christ in all His power. We can’t win the war of living a holy life on our own. The secret is in the supernatural strengthening of our inner beings with God’s power by the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
“For I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”
Jerry Bridges says,
“We are united with the One who is at work in us to strengthen us with His mighty power.
Only as we reckon on these twin facts – that I am dead to sin and its reign over me and that I am alive to God, united to Him who strengthens me – can I keep sin from reigning in my mortal body.”
We need to actively, habitually and faithfully continue to reflect on the fact that we are dead to sin and alive to God and His power to resist sin.
That supernatural power and strength is given to us by God in the form of the Holy Spirit Who lives within us. There are several verses in the Bible that connect the giving of the Holy Spirit with our living a holy life.
“God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God,
who gives you His Holy Spirit.”
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8
Remember, holiness living isn’t abiding by a list of do’s and don’ts. Instead, holiness is conformity to the character of God and obedience to the will of God.
- The Holy Spirit first shows us our great need for holiness. He shows us how spiritually destitute and poverty-stricken we really are. We realize we are sinners and have done wrong against God.
- Then, He enables us to see God’s standard of holiness. Seeing God’s standards of holiness causes us to desire this holiness and repent of our sins. The Holy Spirit causes us to become aware of our specific areas of sin. This step of seeing God’s standards and desire to be holy comes by being actively in the Word.
- Finally, the Holy Spirit gives us the spiritual strength to live a holy life.
We can see by this description of the Holy Spirit’s work in us that there are parts that He does and there are parts that we must do.
Holy Spirit’s work:
- He shows us things
- Makes us realize things
- Gently convicts us of sins
- Creates desires
- Gives us strength
- Realizing that we are dead to sin’s reign, we’re united with Christ in His power, and we have the Holy Spirit to work in us
- Accepting our tendency toward sin – the inward battle of holiness vs. sin
- Repenting of our sins
- Resisting temptation
- Being actively in the Word and prayer
- Taking responsibility for thoughts, attitudes & actions
Jerry says it this way,
“To live by the Spirit is to live both in obedience to and dependence on the Holy Spirit. There is a balance then between our wills (expressed by obedience) and our faith (expressed by our dependence).”
There are two key ways we express our dependence on the Holy Spirit:
- Through a humble and consistent intake of Scripture.
- To pray for holiness.
Jerry shares that as a young Christian, he thought all he had to do to live a holy life was find out from the Bible what God wanted him to do and go do it. It’s much the same way I was in my early walk. I thought it was all about living out the do’s and don’ts of the Ten Commandments and I’d be good. But no. Holiness is conformity to the character of God and obedience to the will of God. We need to learn to depend on the Holy Spirit working in us while at the same time, we are doing our parts. This all leads to living in God’s will by obedience.
For your journal:
- Look up Isaiah 66:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. How should we express our dependence on the Holy Spirit for holiness? What do you want to do to improve in this area?
- Use the following verses to write out how the Holy Spirit helps us in our pursuit of holiness:
That leads into chapter 8, focusing on our responsibility.
“For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die;
but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
The above verse points out how putting to death the misdeeds of the body, it is a work of both the Holy Spirit and ourselves. We are to do something, not sit back and live solely by faith.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says,
“The Holy Spirit is in us; He is working in us, and empowering us, giving us the ability….This is the New Testament teaching – ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ We have to do so. But note the accompaniment – ‘Because it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure’! The Holy Spirit is working in us ‘both to will and to do.’ It is because I am not left to myself, it is because I am not ‘absolutely hopeless,’ since the Spirit is in me, that I am exhorted to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.”
I love this quote, because it is in reference to one of my favorite passages, Philippians 2:12-13. God via the Holy Spirit is continually working in us, transforming us (our hearts) to align with His will and giving us the desire and strength to do His will.
For your journal:
- Read the following verses, and write a statement describing your personal responsibility for holiness:
2 Peter 3:14
- How can we express at the same time both an attitude of dependence on the Holy Spirit and acceptance of our won responsibility for holiness?
Jerry closes with a powerful paragraph:
“If we sin, it is because we choose to sin, not because we lack the ability to say no to temptation. It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say we are “defeated” by this or that sin. No, we are not defeated; we are simply disobedient! It might be good if we stopped using the terms “victory” and “defeat” to describe our progress in holiness. Rather we should use the terms “obedience” and “disobedience.” When I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me. We may, in fact, be defeated, but the reason we are defeated is because we have chosen to disobey.”
Ouch, but true!
For Friday, we’ll be reading chapter 9.