But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy."
~1 Peter 1:15-16
Each concept of the Christian life is inextricably linked with all the others. We cannot have grace without faith. We cannot have faith without Christ. And we cannot be like Christ unless we have holiness.
What is holiness? Is it a far-off, unreachable goal that Christians are excused from achieving since we will never be fully free from sin on this earth? Or is it a vital command that the Lord gives us and expects us to obey?
Jerry Bridges, in The Pursuit of Holiness teaches that holiness is vital, and expected of us. Explaining that growing in holiness is a great deal our responsibility, he lays out from Scripture what exactly falls under the Lord's jurisdiction, and what work we must do ourselves to grow more like Christ. A definitive work on the meaning of holiness, this book convicts greatly, and sets the bar high for our understanding of what throwing off sin and conforming to God's image really means.
I won't deny that many chapters were challenging to read through simply because they hit the mark so well; but Bridges spoke truth, and spoke it in love and humility, something that this subject very much needs. I especially appreciated Bridges' careful handling of the Word of God. Whenever he gave a principle, tip, or directive it was almost always followed by references to several Scripture passages, and I found that most, if not all of them, were used in their correct biblical context. Many passages he includes right in the book text, but this is a book you'll want to read with a Bible handy to get the full teaching Bridges intends. It's a powerful book as it is, but I think it's vital to look up the Scripture an author references in parentheses, to see in the Bible itself that the principle is true, rather than taking their word for it.
I underlined several passages, something uncommon for me, as I don't often make marks in books. One section especially caused me to pause: Our first problem is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered....We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it is offensive to God. Another convicting chapter discussed "The Holiness of God", explaining the difference between our grace and God's grace, and how God does not ever take sin lightly, though he has pardoned Christians from their iniquities. Bridges also talks about holiness and the will--how our desires often overcome our will and reason when we are tempted to sin, and how vital it is that we learn to endure the discomfort of denying our desires so that we can obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Personally, I like being comfortable, and I like gratifying my desires, so it was a good reminder that in a moment of temptation, we must shut out the voice of desire clamoring for our attention and cling to the principles of God's Word to act rightly.
Just for comparison's sake, Jerry Bridges was more serious in his touch than Kevin DeYoung in The Hole in Our Holiness. He didn't use as much humor--which was all right; it was interesting to get a different style--and he was very earnest. I think both approaches are very necessary, for some people need a serious approach to wake them up out of their lethargy, and others need a lighter approach to reassure consciences too tender and keep them from legalism. I think both books together make a balanced approach towards the subject, and I'm looking forward to re-reading Kevin's book again sometime to compare his approach to Bridges'.
The Pursuit of Holiness is a Christian classic that everyone would benefit by reading. Concise, convicting, and clearly outlined, it's a short book well worth the time it takes to peruse. If you've never read this work by Jerry Bridges, I would highly recommend it! And thanks to Kaleigh for sending it, and giving me the opportunity to read it. ; )
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.