The Pursuit of Holiness
The following is a fine summary of chaptr 10 of Jeff Bridges’ book: Growing Your Faith. The summary was written by Scott Moulton.
A good chapter. Short, concise, not too wordy. Bridges sets up his first identifying point of the “growing Christian” as “the pursuit of holiness”. He underlines the fact that we are all as Christians called to be holy. Not just the pastors and missionaries and small group leaders, all…’that includes you in the back, sitting by the door.’ This is not a suggestion but a grave imperative that Bridges is casting light on. And he does this through his discussion on the mortification – or putting to death – of sin. Weighty stuff and there’s good supporting verse in Romans 8:13: “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if you live by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
A huge part of our sanctification is putting to death the deeds of the flesh and, instead, living according to the Spirit. But let’s not be too legalistic here and dethrone God and his Grace. His love, mercy and Grace should always be paramount to our descriptions of God, but we should not over-emphasize these qualities at the expense of His holiness. The act of “putting to death” the deeds of the flesh is part-and-parcel to the process by which we “transform ourselves into His image from one degree of glory to the next.” Indeed, as Bridges reminds us, the basic meaning of the Biblical word holy is separate. Does this mean we are to build bunkers, fill them with canned and dried goods and wait around in isolation until the day? Of course not. Bridges says, ” this does not mean we are to separate ourselves socially from the world but from the sinful influences of the world.” To live in it but not of it.
But how? How do we pursue holiness? His answer: Habit, habit, habit. It takes time, it’s contrary to our natural inclinations, it will never be complete here, but God still requires “…a vigorous effort [on our part] to separate ourselves from sin within and without.” Bridges employs the word habit intentionally and repeatedly throughout all of his chapters that address sanctification. He writes, “it is through…choices we develop Christlike habits of living. Habits are developed by repetition, and it is in the arena of moral choices that we develop spiritual habit patterns.” Since we can never completely rid our lives of sin, the goal must be to sin less. As we grow spiritually and pursue holiness, we discipline ourselves to see sin for what it really is: a rebellion against God. As Bridges says, God is “grieved by our sin.” He detests it, but yet he sent his son to die for it. For ours. Are we to continue in good conscience, in correct frame of heart, in our complacency? No. We must be proactive. That is what he wants from us. We need to wage war on the sin within, from the inside out, to examine ourselves daily, persistently, in light of God’s perfect holiness, to see where and when and how repeatedly we take His grace for granted…We must motivate ourselves out of gratitude and strengthen our resolve to pursue holiness because that’s what God is. And we must pursue with our two book-ends always in mind: the righteousness of God, the power of God.