Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Pursuit of Holiness

Christian sanctification can be defined as the pursuit of holiness. Strong's Concordance lists holiness as a synonym of godliness. W. E. Vine defines godliness as "that piety which is characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is pleasing to Him."

False religions may have piety, ethics, and altruism, but no godliness and holiness (blamelessness before God). The ethics or altruism of the common or natural man may cause him to do the right thing, but not do it unto God (not to the glory of God).

Sanctification is both positional (Hebrews 10:14) and practical (Colossians 1:21).

In our ignorance we underestimate our sinful nature, as well as the greatness and glory of God. The poet Robert Browning, once said that ignorance is not innocence, but sin.

Richard Baxter, the great Puritan pastor and writer showed that we fight sin both offensively and defensively:
1) Offensively - we fight sin in ourselves, others, and the world.
2) Defensively - we fight against ignorance, doubts, hardness of heart, and worldliness.

"Implements" needed to put to death the sin in our lives:
1) The Word of God
2) Prayer
3) The Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit)

Two things we must have in our fight against sin and for holiness:
1) Conviction
2) Commitment

How can we know right from wrong. We should ask 4 questions, based on the book of 1 Corinthians in the Bible:
1) Is it helpful? 1 Corinthians 6:12
2) Does it bring me under its power? 1 Corinthians 6:12
3) Does it hurt others? 1 Corinthians 8:13
4) Does it glorify God? 1 Corinthians 10:31

A disciplined intake of the Word of God involves a planned time and a planned method. The method involves:
1) hearing the Word of God from pastors and teachers (Jeremiah 3:15)
2) reading the Bible (Deuteronomy 17:19)
3) studying the Scripture (Proverbs 2:1-5)
4) memorizing key Scriptures (Psalm 119:11)
5) meditating on Scripture (Joshua 1:8)
6) application -obedience to the Scripture ( James 1:22)
7) perseverance (Proverbs 24:16)

Primary Reference:

Bridges, Jerry, The Pursuit of Holiness, Colorado Springs: Navipress, 1978 ff.

Other References:
Adams, Jay E., Godliness through Discipline, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973
Baxter, Richard, The Reformed Pastor, Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983 (reprint of 1656 Puritan classic)
Bridges, Jerry, The Practice of Godliness, Colorado Springs: Navipress (sequel to Pursuit of Holiness)
Bridges, Jerry, Respectable Sins
Owen, John, Temptation and Sin, Evansville, Indiana: Sovereign Grace Books, 1958 (reprint of 1656 Puritan classic, Indwelling Sin)
Pink, A.W., The Doctrine of Sanctification, Swengel, Pennsylvania: Bible Truth Depot, 1955
Ryle, J. C., Holiness, London: James Clarke & Co., 1952 (reprint of 19th century classic)
Vine, W. E., Merrill F Unger, and William White, Jr., Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985

Acknowledgement: Some of this material was also from teaching notes of Ed Zetterberg.

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