Our Position and Practice of Holiness

“Thus, true believer, you are holy before God in Christ, and yet you must cultivate holiness in the strength of Christ. Your status in holiness is conferred; your condition in holiness must be pursued. Through Christ you are made holy in your standing before God, and through Him you are called to reflect that standing by being holy in daily life. Your context of holiness is justification through Christ; your route of holiness is to be crucified and resurrected with Him, which involves the continual ‘mortification of the old, and the quickening of the new man’ (Heidelberg Catechism, Question 88). You are called to be in life what you already are in principle by grace.” — Joel Beeke, Puritan Reformed Spirituality (HT: Joe Thorn)

Union With Christ as Assurance of Life

“I grew up in a common form of American Christianity that basically treated anxiety like a fruit of the Spirit. If you were not worried about your own holiness, something was wrong. In relation to this, Reformed teaching on the double grace and the will’s bondage is very good news: rather than being ‘tossed back and forth without any certainty,’ with ‘our poor consciences . . . tormented constantly,’ as the Belgic Confession says, we come to rest in Jesus Christ, knowing that new life is a gift received in union with him. In this way, we are freed to actually love and delight in God and neighbor. Otherwise, our praying, our acts of mercy, our evangelism, all are done to build up our own holiness — which blocks God and neighbor from being our focus. When both our justification and our new life are found in Jesus Christ, then this burdensome, disingenuous Christianity is replaced by Spirit-empowered gratitude.” – J.

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“You cannot have half a Christ!”

“What a strange salvation it is, if people who are saved do not care about holiness! In this case, people want to be saved, but they want to stay dead in sin, alien from the life of God, without the image of God, deformed by the image of satan, and in slavery to satan and to their own filthy lusts. They seem to prefer to stay totally unfit to enjoy God in glory. Christ never purchased such a salvation as this by His own blood. Those who think they have received a salvation such as this abuse the grace of God in Christ, and turn it into license for sin. They want to be saved by Christ, but apart from Christ, so to speak. They want to be saved, but they also want to remain in a fleshly state, with a fleshly lifestyle. This is simply not how salvation works! The only people Christ frees from condemnation are those who

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The Litmus Test of Genuine Christianity

Cap Stewart: In our pluralistic culture, churches have become so varied that they spread confusion about what it really means to be a follower of Christ. When it comes to hot-button issues like gun rights, abortion, and homosexuality, professing Christians line up on opposite ends. Can Christianity legitimately be so divided? Or, to put it another way, can anyone discern the “real deal”? Is it possible to know what functional, practical Christianity truly looks like? James, the brother of Jesus, says yes—and he gives us a simple litmus test: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (Jas. 1:27). James provides a short, two-item checklist: (1) love—helping those in need, and (2) holiness—separating from worldly influence. These two traits summarize the practical outworking of a life changed by the gospel. Much of the current division within the church comes from

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Holy vs. Holier Than Thou

Jared Wilson: How do we become holy without becoming ‘holier than thou’? By actually becoming actually holy. Holiness and holier-than-thou-ness aren’t parallel phenomena. They run on different tracks. If someone is growing in arrogance, pride, and self-righteousness, by definition they are not growing in holiness. The problem arises in equating holiness with religious behavior. Holy people do obey God, of course. But the character of holiness, in which the Spirit does his progressive sanctifying work in our hearts (and therefore in our thoughts, speech, and actions), produces qualities of humility, gentleness, kindness, and self-control. Any arrogant fool can abstain from certain sins or give to charity and what-not. The Pharisees certainly did that, and all our legalistic contemporaries do too. But that is not real holiness. That is moralistic separatism or some such thing. Therefore, it is impossible to become both holy and holier-than-thou. To grow in one, is to atrophy in the other. But I am grateful that while

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My Sanctification In Redemptive History

Tony Reinke: Even if we take personal holiness seriously as believers (and we should), we often lose sight of how our personal sanctification fits into a much larger redemptive storyline that stretches all the way back to creation and stretches forward into eternity. One of the strengths of Kevin’s new book The Hole In Our Holiness is a focus on this storyline (see pages 38–47). I asked him to summarize it, and explain why it matters, in the following clip (6 minutes):   Here’s a full list of clips from our 7-part interview series with Kevin DeYoung on The Hole In Our Holiness — What’s the Hole in Our Holiness? My Sanctification in Redemptive History The Imitation of Christ The Most Neglected Theme in Sanctification The Many Motivators For Personal Holiness Extraordinary Holiness Through Four Ordinary Means How Far Is Too Far Before Marriage?

Extraordinary Holiness Through Four Ordinary Means

Tony Reinke: In his new book, Kevin DeYoung writes, “It may sound boring or out-of-date, but it just happens to be true: the way to grow in your relationship with Jesus is to pray, read your Bible, and go to a church where you’ll get good preaching, good fellowship, and receive the sacraments” (134). It sounds ordinary, and it is, as Kevin explains in the following clip (4 minutes):  

The Imitation of Christ

From Desiring God: What would Jesus do? The pop phrase has worn out, but there’s enduring truth in it. “We see in Jesus the best, most practical, most human example of what it means to be holy,” writes Kevin DeYoung in his new book The Hole In Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Crossway, 2012). We asked Kevin to speak about Jesus as our moral example in the following clip, and we started with a clear definition of sanctification and justification (7 minutes):  

8 Rules for Growing in Godliness

By Joe Thorn: In my desire to be like Jesus I have to guard against the temptation to merely focus on the external. Addressing the outside of our lives is easy and has nothing to do with real sanctification. Superficial godliness is no godliness at all. It is nothing but a thin gloss over a man’s life. A kind of religious manliness that neither addresses or changes the heart. But the other danger is doing nothing, and simply hoping that God makes us grow without any cultivation. Our growth in godliness is a grace from God, derived from our union with Jesus, and is a work of the Holy Spirit, and yet we are active throughout in both killing sin and living unto righteousness. So all the effort, action, and work on our part in the process of sanctification must spring from faith in Jesus and be aimed at our hearts, not just our behavior. This means we need to grow

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The Anatomy of Holiness

Kevin DeYoung: What exactly does it mean to be holy? What does it look like? Here’s one way to think about it: consider growth in godliness as the sanctification of your body. The mind is filled with the knowledge of God and fixed on what is good. The eyes turn away from sensuality and shudder at the sight of evil. The mouth tells the truth and refuses to gossip, slander, or speak what is coarse or obscene. The spirit is earnest, steadfast, and gentle. The soul rests and rejoices in Jesus. The muscles toil and strive after Christlike virtue. The heart is full of joy instead of hopelessness, patience instead of irritability, kindness instead of anger, and humility instead of pride, thankfulness instead of envy. The sexual organs are pure, being reserved for the privacy of marriage between one man and one woman. The feet move toward the lowly and away from senseless conflict, divisions, and wild parties. The hands

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The best preparation for gospel ministry

“Dear Gentlemen, With unspeakable pleasure have I heard that there seems to be a general concern amongst you about the Things of God. . . . What great things may we now expect to see in New England, since it has pleased God to work so remarkably among the Sons of the Prophets?  Now we may expect a reformation indeed, since it is beginning at the house of God.  A dead Ministry will always make a dead People.  Whereas if ministers are warmed with the love of God themselves, they cannot but be instruments of diffusing that love amongst others.  This, this is the best preparation for the work whereunto you are to be called.  Learning without piety will only render you more capable of promoting the kingdom of the devil.  Henceforward therefore I hope you will enter into your studies, not to get a parish, not to be a polite preacher, but to be a great saint. . .

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My true happiness is to go and sin no more

John Piper: Why are we healed by God? And why do we do practical good for others? “Sin no more, that nothing worse would happen to you” is Jesus’ response in John 5:1-18: . Ray Ortlund quotes: “To gain entire likeness to Christ, I ought to get a high esteem of the happiness of it.  I am persuaded that God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with his holiness.  Holiness and happiness are like light and heat.  God never tasted one of the pleasures of sin. Christ has a body such as I have, yet he never tasted one of the pleasures of sin.  The redeemed, through all eternity, will never taste one of the pleasures of sin; yet their happiness is complete. . . . Every sin is something away from my greatest enjoyment. . . . The devil strives night and day to make me forget this or disbelieve it.  He says, Why should you not enjoy this pleasure as

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What’s the Key to Healthy Christian Growth in Godliness?

My thanks to Dane Ortlund for this thoughtful post: What’s the Key to Healthy Christian Growth in Godliness? That’s the question I asked a handful of thoughtful men of God last week. Responses below. Please understand: I explicitly asked our brothers to keep it to a single, short sentence. Of course, whole volumes could be (and have been!) written addressing this question (here’s my favorite). So we gladly receive these wise statements remembering that sanctification is not a math problem. There is no formula. Every answer below needs a hundred footnotes. Point taken. The purpose of this exercise is not to provide an opportunity to nit-pick but to re-center, refresh, encourage, spur on, help one another. Thabiti Anyabwile: ‘If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.’ (Col. 3:1) Mike Bullmore: I believe the key to healthy Christian growth in godliness is a deep life

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Only by a power from beyond ourselves

“If we stress the love of God without the holiness of God, it turns out only to be compromise.  But if we stress the holiness of God without the love of God, we practice something that is hard and lacks beauty.  And it is important to show forth beauty before a lost world and a lost generation.  All too often young people have not been wrong in saying that the church is ugly.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we are called upon to show to a watching world and to our own young people that the church is something beautiful. Several years ago I wrestled with the question of what was wrong with much of the church that stood for purity.  I came to the conclusion that in the flesh we can stress purity without love or we can stress the love of God without purity, but that in the flesh we cannot stress both simultaneously.  In

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Some thoughts on the mortification of sin: Dynamics

John Owen, 1616-1683, author of On the Mortification of Sin My thanks to Guy Davies for this: Colossians 3:5-7 Those who are still dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) have no hope of mortifying sin. False teaching cannot help us either Col 2:20-23. But those who have been united to Christ crucified and risen are empowered to put sin to death and bring holiness to life. In the concluding post in this series, we take a look  at some of the dynamics of mortification according to the New Testament: i. Remember who you are Paul makes this point in Romans 6:11-14. Never forget that sin is no longer your lord and master. Christ has set you free, John 8:32. Live as a free man or woman in Christ. ii. Expect a life-long struggle It is no easy thing to put sin to death. Sins that we once thought were mortified may return. New situations or stages in life may find new sins raising their ugly heads. Don’t believe anyone who

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The Essence of Holiness

“You will cleanse no sin from your life that you have not first recognized as being pardoned through the cross. This is because holiness starts in the heart. The essence of holiness is not new behaviour, activity, or disciplines. Holiness is new affections, new desires, and new motives that then lead to new behaviour. If you don’t see your sin as completely pardoned, then your affections, desires, and motives will be wrong. You will aim to prove yourself. Your focus will be the consequences of your sin rather than hating the sin and desiring God in its place.” – Tim Chester, You Can Change (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 28. (HT: Of First Importance)