The Pursuit of Godliness

We enter a season of the year when many will turn their eyes for a moment to look at a baby in a manger, and as babies often do, the look will soften the heart and warm the emotions. This in turn will open the purse strings, there will be a flurry of good will, and those who run charitable organizations as well as the retailers of the country will bask in this outpouring, lining their pockets or the pockets of their organizations with the proceeds. Then they will try to get along until next year. You may call that outlook pessimistic, but maybe realistic is more accurate.

Precious few will stand in awe of the fact stated so simply in Luke 1:35. "And the angel answered and said unto her, That holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Or as Paul said so eloquently in 1 Timothy 3:16, "God manifest in flesh."

But what really staggers my imagination--for I really can't even begin to get my mind around this first statement--is that I, along with all my brothers and sisters in Christ, will one day be presented to God Himself as "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27). In Colossions 1:13, Paul reminded the Colossian believers that they had been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son. This great work, accomplished by His Preeminent Son and His death, is able to present them holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight (Col. 1:22).

But what is this thing called holiness? And why, if holiness is something that is bestowed upon us, does it say in Hebrews 12:10 that He (the Father of spirits) will chasten us so that we can be partaker of His holiness? Is holiness my responsibility or His?

These are questions that rumble around in many of our minds and we never really take the time to explore the answers to them. But there is one brother who has taken the time and then written not one but two books on the subject. His name is Jerry Bridges. The first book, written some years ago in 1978, is called The Pursuit of Holiness and it is just the above questions he was asking himself that caused him to begin his study. Is it possible for a believer to live a holy life? Many times we dispair at this idea as we look at our own lives. But he answers this with a loud and clear "Yes--but." It is a pursuit--it takes discipline and the forming of habits of obedience. In the forward to the book, Mr. Herbert Lockyer says, "In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson declared that one of the inherent and unalienable rights of men is 'the pursuit of happiness.' Professing Christians must be brought to realize that the preeminent desire and demand of God for us is that of the continual pursuit of holiness of life, and the reflection of His own holiness." While holiness is bestowed by God and is the work of God we are responsible to pursue that end. This is the great lesson taught very capably in this book.

A companion volume, The Practice of Godliness, was published in 1983. The foundation text of the book is 1 Timothy 4:8, "Godliness is profitable unto all things." In the books of Timothy and Titus the word godliness is prevalent, being used 9 of the 16 total times the English word godliness is found in our King James Bibles. Mr. Bridges defined godliness as "devotion to God which results in a life that is pleasing to Him." This has impressed me over the years as the proper perspective. First, we must be devoted to God. A person devoted to God will then seek to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

As we pause this season to look into the manger, may it cause us to renew our desire to live holy lives in 1996. Only as we bow our hearts in devotion to Him and live under the authority of His Word will we live lives that demonstrate the character of that Holy One--even Jesus The Christ our Lord. And this will bring lasting peace.

? Uplook Ministries, Used by permission.