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The Pursuit of Holiness Paperback – January 31, 2006
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Believer's are no longer slaves to sin.Their will is no longer in bondage to sinful desires,though they still struggle with sinful thoughts and desires,depending on how diligently we guard our hearts(the thoughts we entertain,the things we take in with our eyes and ears-if we are not wise,disciplined and discerning in what we take in through our senses,our affections will be influenced with evil things).This will influence our wills and the result will be that holy living will be stunted.-"The seat of indwelling sin,then,is our deceitful,unsearchable heart.A second thing that we should realize is that indwelling sin works largely through our desires." We need to have our desires conform to what our Lord has revealed in his word to be godly and holy desires(to know Christ better,to desire God's will,to see God's purposes accomplished...)John Owen's work's on sin and temptation addressed in great detail the conflict with desire and reason and the objects of our affections.-"Hence,said Owen,denying sin must be chiefly directed on the affections.We must make sure our desires are directed toward glorifying God,he said,and not satisfying the lusts of our bodies." One of the most intense battles that believers continually face,in this life,is the struggle with sinful desires versus godly reasoning.-"if you give in to temptation,it will be because desire has overcome reason,in the struggle to influence your will."
It must also be kept in mind,that in our own strength,we are weak and helpless,but if we trust God to strengthen us,we will prevail,by His grace.This is where prayer is vital,both regular times and seasons of prayer and ejaculatory prayer(offering up prayer to God immediately and continually as needed).
The fact that the Holy Spirit indwells believers will enable them to not only desire to be holy but to actively pursue it.-"Only one who has a strong desire to be holy will ever persevere in the painfully slow and difficult task of pursuing holiness. ...even though we fail so often,in our inner being we delight in God's law." Romans 7:22 'For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.' It is one of the marks of God's children to have an ongoing desire to be holy.There will be stops and starts,discouragement because of frequent failures,nevertheless there will be a continual desire to pursue holy living.If this is not present(especially over a sustained period of time)there should be cause for concern as to the state of one's soul.The Pursuit of holiness is part of what it is to be on the narrow road which leads to life.
The longer one has been a Christian,the greater the danger of 'Spiritual Pride' gaining a foothold.-"As we grow in the Christian life we face increasing danger of spiritual pride.We know the correct doctrines ...but we may not see the poverty of our own spiritual character." Having a knowledge of the truth and walking in the truth are not the same thing.There must be a knowledge of truth to walk in 'God's Ways',but having knowledge without living by the truth can be a real danger.The blessing that God's Word pronounces from cover to cover is for those who '...walk not in the counsel of the ungodly...but...delight in the law of the Lord.' I think that it is a universal tendency to be more easily comfortable when things are good,and to focus on God when things are bad.I believe that this is one of the main reasons that trial and affliction are so necessary in the lives of the people of God,because it gets our attention,it shifts our emphasis Godward and it has a humbling effect.
I think Jerry Bridges has written more than a few very important and helpful books,often with even the most useful Christian writers,there is one that stands out among them and is their most influential work.For A.W.Pink it is 'The Sovereignty Of God',for John Bunyan 'The Pilgrim's Progress',John Macarthur 'The Gospel According To Jesus',J.C.Ryle 'Holiness',John Owen 'The Mortification Of Sin',Jeremiah Burroughs 'The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment',R.C.Sproul 'The Holiness Of God',Timothy Keller 'The Reason For God' and for Mr.Bridges I believe it is 'The Pursuit Of Holiness'.It is one off the best books ever written on this vital Christian teaching.
What I Liked
Bridges clearly points Christians toward a higher level of following Christ. Far too many believers fail to live a holy life because they have compromised their understanding of what it means to be holy. The command of God is not for us to be more holy than our neighbors, it is to be holy like God. As Bridges writes, "This is where holiness begins--not with ourselves, but with God. It is only as we see His holiness, His absolute purity and moral hatred of sin, that we will be gripped by the awfulness of sin against the Holy God" (20). One major help for any believer to grow in holiness will be to see God in his true, awesome, terrifying, holiness.
Bridges rightly calls believers to seek to be holy by submitting themselves to the word of God. He writes, "We express our dependence on the Holy Spirit for a holy life in two ways. The first is through a humble and consistent intake of the Scripture. If we truly desire to live in the realm of the Spirit we must continually feed our minds with His truth. It is hypocritical to pray for victory over our sins yet be careless in our intake of the Word of God" (75). Bridges also claims, "Obedience is the pathway to holiness, but it is only as we have His commands that we can obey them. God's Word must be so strongly fixed in our minds that it becomes the dominant influence in our thoughts, our attitudes, and our actions" (85). Again, Bridges says, "The Bible speaks to us primarily through our reason, and this is why it is so vitally important for our minds to be constantly brought under its influence. There is absolutely no shortcut to holiness that bypasses or gives little priority to a consistent intake of the Bible" (125). It is good, very good, for Christians to hear authors call them to sanctification through the Scriptures.
Though I could point out several other things, I'll only list one more for right now. Bridges does an excellent job of calling Christians to accept the fact their sin is their responsibility. He argues, "We are to do something. We are not to "stop trying and start trusting"; we are to put to death the misdeeds of the body" (78). Bridges also writes, "So we see that God has made provision for our holiness. Through Christ He has delivered us from sin's reign so that we now can resist sin. But the responsibility for resisting is ours. God does not do that for us" (57). Again, Bridges powerfully wraps up the book by asking, "Truly the choice is ours. What will we choose? Will we accept our responsibility and discipline ourselves to live in habitual obedience to the will of God? Will we persevere in the face of frequent failure, resolving never to give up? Will we decide that personal holiness is worth the price of saying no to our body's demands to indulge its appetites?" (152).
What I didn't Like
There are a few shortcomings in this book, though not very many. Bridges would have made an even stronger case for personal holiness had he done more to truly identify what it means that God is holy. Bridges aimed at this goal, and brushed up against it on occasion, but he never truly gave the reader a deep sense of awe of God's holiness. I write this fully aware that Bridges was not trying to write Sproul's The Holiness of God, but was instead writing a book aimed at calling us to be holy. However, I would have liked another chapter or two on the importance of what it means that God is holy.
At the end of the book, Bridges points out the other shortcoming that I will mention. He (or his publisher) points out that this book focuses mainly on how to put off sin, but does not focus as much on putting on the godly alternatives that will help a believer to live in righteousness. In the final pages, readers find an encouragement to read The Practice of Godliness for this kind of advice. However, if more of how to put on righteousness had been in this book, it would have been stronger.
The Pursuit of Holiness is a book that any believer could benefit from reading. The chapters are short, easy-to-read, and power-packed. This book would be ideal for small group studies between friends or for personal devotional reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone who desires to have more joy in his Christian life by living more of what God calls him to be.
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It is a must read for every believer!