I recently had the opportunity to review The Pursuit of Holiness by Dr. Jerry Bridges. If you’ve read my reviews of several of his other books, you know that I really appreciate his writing. Dr. Bridges is able to communicate and practically apply biblical truth very effectively, with a humility and grace rarely seen. The Pursuit of Holiness is no exception. The book is definitely deserving of it’s reputation as a “modern classic”!
While his book Transforming Grace emphasized God’s grace in our Christian walk, The Pursuit of Holiness emphasizes our personal responsibility. When it comes to living a holy life, what is our responsibility, and for what do we rely on God? He explains:
The title for this book comes from the biblical command, “Pursue holiness, for without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, author’s paraphrase). The word pursue suggests two thoughts: first, that diligence and effort are required; and second that it is a lifelong task. These two thoughts form a dual theme throughout this book. While seeking to set forth clearly and accurately God’s provision for our holiness, I have deliberately stressed our responsibility, feeling that this is an emphasis sorely needed among Christians today. At the same time I have sought to emphasize that holiness is a process, something we never completely attain in this life. Rather, as we begin to conform to the will of God in one area of life, He reveals to us our need in another area. That is why we will always be pursuing-as opposed to attaining-holiness in this life.
A holy life is defined as “a life [lived] in conformity to the moral precepts of the Bible and in contrast to the sinful ways of the world.” Why is it that holiness is such a struggle for most Christians? Dr. Bridges identifies three basic problems:
- Our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We’re more concerned about the personal effects of sin and being “successful” over it than we are about the fact that sin is offensive to God…that it grieves him.
- We have misunderstood “living by faith” to mean that no effort at holiness is required on our part. Instead, we need to recognize that we do have a personal responsibility for our walk of holiness.
- We do not take some sin seriously. We mentally categorize sins into those that are unacceptable and those which we can tolerate, rather than calling sin “sin”.