In my quiet time this morning I picked up the classic work by Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness. I am one chapter in, but am already deeply impacted and excited for this read.
As a young man, holiness is a constant pursuit. It is a pursuit because it is attainable, but not easily. It can be elusive (even the definition of the word is somewhat elusive to me, let alone the expectations) and will certainly take a great deal of work to grab hold of and hold onto for the long run. Furthermore, holiness is not the only thing that we are urged to pursue. Paul twice gave the maturing leader, Timothy, lists of what he should set his sights on:
- “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:11-12
- “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22
So, how is the pursuit going for you? Are you committed to opening the Word each day and seeing yourself as God sees you, being challenged, changed, and transformed? Do you maintain habits of openness and confession with other brothers and sisters, or are you hiding secret sin? Are you in touch with your sin, it’s affects on God, and the power of the Cross to overcome it? I believe all of these would help us to attain the holiness God wants of us.
Bridges gives three reasons why we miss holiness, all of which were challenging to me:
- Our attitude towards sin is more self-centered than God-centered (see explaination below).
- We have misunderstood “living by faith.” Meaning that we expect God to change our attitudes and behavior, but don’t recognize or do our part to change.
- We do not take some sin seriously. By treating some sins seriously and others loosely, in essence we create a sliding-scale of morality where God has simply said, “Be holy.”
Most convicting to me was a self-centered attitude towards sin. Of our attitude he wrote, “God wants us to walk in obedience – not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self… This is not to say God doesn’t want us to experience victory, but rather to emphasize that victory is a by-product of obedience.”
May each of us be victorious in the pursuit of holiness and obedience!