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The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges (Ch. 1-3)

In preparing for the 2023 WOC Fall Women's Retreat, I am reading the timeless Christian classic, The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. I thought I would capture my thoughts here, in lieu of my Old Testament posts. This is not meant as a coherent narrative or review of the book; but quotations, excerpts, and my thoughts as I read the text. A written highlight reel and my commentary on the highlights.



This is a NavPress book from the Navigators, and printed by Tyndale Books.

It looks like the original copyright is 1978. I have a version with a 1988 copyright that I bought in college. I also have his book, Practice of Godliness, from college. That book left a definite impression on me as it covers the fruit of the Spirit.

This version is copyrighted 2006 and includes a new study guide.


He opens with such a good metaphor. Farming is a joint venture between the farmer and the Lord. The framer cannot do what only God can do and God will not do what He has left the farmer responsible to do.

Similarly, God gives us works to do, but those works are utterly dependent on God to perform His will in them to prosper.

Each of our lives in a joint venture with God. Our pursuit of holiness is a joint venture with God.

  • We cannot be holy without Him.
  • He won't bring us to holiness without our portion of His plan. We have to do the walking.
  • We can't pray for victory and then fail to walk in obedience and expect His favor. (Just ask King Saul.)

Dual book theme on pursuing holiness:

  • It requires diligence and effort
  • It's a lifelong task-as we conform in one area, He reveal a deeper place for us to work.

Chapter 1

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Romans 6:14

"...holiness is not only expected, it is the birthright of every Christian."

holiness is being morally blameless- Strong's concordance

separated TO God

Putting off the old self; putting on the new self (Ephesians 4: 22; 24)

Three problem areas:

  1. Self-centered attitude toward sin vs. God-centered: I want victory, as opposed to I don't want to grieve God. Sin is against God. The focus should be on obedience, not victory.
  2. Our second problem is that we have misunderstood “living by faith”. Effort is required on our part, faith doesn't take away our call to train as disciples. Faith without works is dead.
  3. Our third problem is that we do not take some sin seriously. Fudging on a few rules is what got us all in trouble in the Garden of Eden.

Chapter 2

But just as He who called you is Holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

I Peter 1:15-16

"Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God."

It is impossible for Him to be anything but holy.

Absence of all evil. Light with no darkness.

If we find ourselves accusing God of being unfair...He has uncovered in us wrong thinking about Him. Eve was the one with the wrong thinking about God. We have to reconcile that in our hearts when we find ourselves unhappy with Him. Often, when we are angry in our lives, it is because we are dissatisfied with the way God has allowed things to unfold.

Holy is used more often as a prefix to His name than any other attribute.

"He cannot for one moment relax His perfect standard of holiness."

God hates sin and we must hate sin because it grieves Him. All sin. The sin of all people.

To ponder:

  • Romans 5:19
  • I Peter 3:18


Chapter 3

Holiness is Not an Option

Make every effort to love in peace with all men and be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

Jesus displayed perfect obedience and absolute holiness during His sinless time on earth. We are attributed this righteousness for our salvation.

Sinless, Jesus then sacrificed His body in death, then overcoming death as the firstborn for our resurrection.

Our holiness before God relies solely on the work of Jesus Christ. Any degree of holiness we try to accumulate on our own behalf is a dirty rag compared to the white robe of Jesus.

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

Isaiah 64:6 NKJV (Bible Gateway)

But Hebrews 12:14 above tells us to make every effort to be holy. That's our effort. Does this contradict our salvation in Christ? Of course not. God is not a God of confusion. He is very consistent that salvation comes through the holiness of Jesus; but we are clearly being told we DO have a part to play.

The word sanctified means make holy.

Here's the linchpin. The Holy Spirit.

Your salvation, your eternal fire insurance, is in Jesus Christ alone. That's the golden ticket to the party. However, along with that "golden ticket", we receive an indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the helper for us to walk worthy of the holiness we've been given.

If there is not change in your life, if there is no manifestation of the Spirit in your life, then it may be a sign to reflect on your relationship with Jesus.

A word of warning...I'm not telling which part of your life should be changed. The Lord works in the lives of everyone differently. Don't let anyone tell you that struggling with a certain sin over times is a question of your salvation; but if you examine the timeline of your life from the moment of surrender to the Lord and don't see the manifestation of the Spirit changing you toward's worth seeking trusted godly counsel on what that may mean.

There should be a clear desire to be holy.

A call toward purpose for His kingdom.

Decisions we make need to be in the line of sight of eternity. This is our chance to prepare for how we spend the rest of our existence.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

I Corinthians 3:6-17 NKJV (Bible Gateway)

So holiness is the manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit inside you.

"Holiness then is required for fellowship with God."

"Holiness is necessary for effective service to God."

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

II Timothy 2:20-21

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:14, NKJV (Bible gateway)

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