There have been times throughout my life, right up until the present, when I feel as if I’ve utterly failed to lead a holy life. That’s sobering, since Hebrews 12:14 clearly admonishes us to “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” In light of passages like that, falling into sin can be disheartening, to say the least.
In his last post, Isaac gave a brief overview of some of the different ways Christians have interpreted (and attempted to obey) the biblical commands to be holy. Isaac will resume his biblical counseling series soon, but in the mean time I want to follow up on a comment I made on that last post.
I referred to an illustration in Jerry Bridges’ book “The Pursuit of Holiness.” It wasn’t a major feature of the book, but for some reason I’ve never forgotten it, even though I read the book over 20 years ago. It’s encouraged me on those occasions when I’ve been deeply discouraged by my own apparent lack of progress. I couldn’t find it online anywhere, so my son duplicated it for me in a Word document. (This may be the only place on the internet where you can find it!)
Here’s the illustration, followed by Bridges’ explanation of it from the book.
Some feel that such statements of Paul’s as “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15) are too strong for a Christian walking in the Spirit. But what Christian can deny that this is often his own experience? The truth is, the more we see of the holiness of God and His law revealed to us in the Scripture, the more we recognize how far short we fall…
As we grow in the knowledge of God’s holiness, even though we are also growing in the practice of holiness it seems the gap between our knowledge and our practice always gets wider. This is the Holy Spirit’s way of drawing us to more and more holiness…
I hope you find that little illustration encouraging when you fall, and a great incentive to get right back up and resume the pursuit of holiness.
If you’d like to read another endorsement of the book, Union University professor Ray Van Neste (an elder in my pastor’s former church) shared a few thoughts about it on his blog a few years ago. You can read that here.
Sin clings closely to us. We’ve got to set it aside and fix our eyes on Jesus.
let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Strive…for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)