“Pursue holiness, for without holiness no one will see God” (Heb. 12:14.)
We all need modern-day heroes. Jerry Bridges (1929-2016), long time Navigator speaker and author, is one of my mine. The Pursuit of Holiness, is probably my favorite book of the dozen or more he’s written, not because it’s fun to read, but because it’s challenged me to be a godly man more than any other book besides the Bible.
Donna and I read this 20th century Christian classic many years ago on our own, but recently we decided to read it again together out loud so we could talk about it. What a great experience! We agree with Dr. Herbert Lockyer, Sr. who wrote a review of it years ago, “Incisive … conscience stirring … a volume that will have a far-reaching impact upon the lives of countless numbers who read it.”
Years ago I read a similar book Holiness (1877) by Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle, but it was much more difficult to understand and more polemic because it was written at a time when “evangelicals began embracing new views about the Christian life. Popular holiness teachers—such as William Edwin Boardman, Robert Pearsall Smith, and his wife, Hanna Whitall Smith—urged Christians to embrace a superior form of spiritual life that included a second conversion experience, full salvation, and deliverance from all known sin in this life. A series of popular holiness meetings were held in the mid-1870s, which ultimately gave birth to the Keswick Convention.” (Ben Rogers)
Bridges’ 158 page book consists of 17 chapters. Below is a brief synopsis of each chapter along with its title and theme verse. I hope that my simple statement about each chapter will create a desire within you to read this challenging book.
- Holiness is for you (Romans 6:14) God not only expects every Christian to be holy, but it is his/her promised birthright.
- The Holiness of God (1 Peter 1:15-16) In the Bible God’s holiness is His majesty, purity, and moral perfection. We are to be holy as He is holy.
- Holiness is not an option (Hebrews 12:14) Scripture speaks of our holiness in two ways – the holiness we have in Christ before God and the holiness which we must pursue in our lives.
- The Holiness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) Christ had to be holy in order to be our perfect sacrifice. His holiness consisted both in His absence of sin and His obedience to the Father.
- A Change of Kingdoms (Romans 6:6-7) When we were converted God delivered us from the dominion of sin, but we still must stand up to it and say “no.”
- The Battle for Holiness (Romans 7:21) To fight sin we must acknowledge it will be a life-long struggle. As Paul said in the above verse, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”
- Help in the Daily Battle (Romans 6:11 We are now dead to sin and alive to Christ, so we must daily “reckon” ourselves to that end, i.e. form the continuous habit to realize these facts.
- Obedience – Not Victory (Romans 8:13) We are united with the risen Christ, but we must accept our responsibility to obey Him, i.e. to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”
- Putting Sin to Death (Colossians 3:5) In the strength of the Spirit we must destroy the power of sin in our lives because it will try to reign over us.
- The Place of Personal Discipline (1 Timothy 4:7) We must discipline ourselves to pray, to study the Word of God, and to obey it. This takes time and practice.
- Holiness in Body (1 Corinthians 9:27) One of the most important areas of our sanctification is holiness in body. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
- Holiness in Spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1) Holiness begins in our minds and works its way out in our lives to fight sinful attitudes such as envy, jealousy, bitterness, gossip, unforgiving spirit, etc.
- Holiness and Our Wills (Philippians 2:13) It is our will which ultimately makes the decision to obey God or not, but His Spirit works in us to act according to His good purpose.”
- Habits of Holiness (Romans 6:19) Bridges believes that “every sin we commit reinforces the habit of sinning and makes it easier to sin.” With the Spirit’s help we must break those habits.
- Holiness and Faith (Hebrews 11:8) We are saved by faith, but faith also helps us to obey God just as it did for Abraham in the above verse.
- Holiness in an Unholy World (John 17:15) In the world in which we live we must be prepared for constant evil assaults on our mind and heart.
- The Joy of Holiness (Romans 14:17) Living a holy life before God brings us joy in this world and the anticipation of reward in heaven.