One of the points I made in the sermon last week was that the grace that saves us is the grace that sanctifies us (Titus 2:11-12). The gospel through which we are made right with God is the same gospel through which we are progressively transformed into the image of God. Thus, personal holiness matters not simply because it confirms the presence of saving faith, but because it is the explicit goal of saving faith.
I’ve been working through the book of Leviticus recently as part of my daily Bible reading plan. Time after time, the Lord exhorts his people Israel with words like this, “You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (Leviticus 20:26). Paul picks up the same idea in the book of Ephesians when he declares, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
Fighting for personal holiness isn’t easy. There’s a reason Paul tells us to to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). Fortunately, help is available. The Holy Spirit is at work within every believer, helping us apply the truth of God’s Word to every area of life. One of the ways he gets that done is through studying good, Christian books. Let me recommend a couple of title that I’ve found helpful in pursuing personal holiness – all of which are available in our Book Shoppe. I’ve included a choice quote from each to whet your appetite.
1) The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges
“What does it mean that God administers His discipline in the realm of grace? It means that all His teaching, training, and discipline are administered in love and for our spiritual welfare. It means that God is never angry with us, though He is often grieved at our sins. It means He does not condemn us or count our sins against us. All that He does in us and to us is done on the basis of unmerited favor.” (p. 90)
2) The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
“Why do we imagine God to be so unmoved by our heart-felt attempts at obedience? He is, after all, our heavenly Father. What sort of father looks at his daughter’s homemade birthday card and complains that the color scheme is all wrong? What kind of mother says to her son, after he gladly cleaned the garage but put the paint cans on the wrong shelf, ‘This is worthless in my sight’? What sort of parent rolls his eyes when his child falls of the bike on the first try? There is no righteousness that makes us right with God except for the righteousness of Christ. But for those who have been made right with God by grace alone through faith alone and therefore have been adopted into God’s family, many of our righteous deeds are not only not filthy in God’s eyes, they are exceedingly sweet, precious, and pleasing to him.” (p. 70)
3) Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle by J.I. Packer
“The saddest symptom about many so-called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week. But the great spiritual warfare – its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests – of all this they appear to know nothing at all. Let us take care that this case is not our own.” (p. 162)
The Book Shoppe is open every Sunday morning from 9:15 am – 10:00 am and after the meeting until 12:30 pm.