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Summary: We can be defiled by the common things around us but God has a remedy for us in the picture of the OT sacrifice of a red heifer.

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Hebrews 9:13-14 KJV For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: [14] How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

I. INTRODUCTION—THE NECESSITY OF HOLINESS

-My exposure to a writer named Jerry Bridges came about 25 years ago. Shortly after Teresa and I got married, we were unpacking some of her books from JCM and there was a tattered little paperback book among them. It was by Jerry Bridges and was entitled “The Pursuit of Holiness.” I can remember flipping through it and then putting it on the shelf where it stayed for a long period of time.

-Then in the early ‘90’s, I heard a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony Mangun from Alexandria, Louisiana that he called, “Holiness and Righteousness.” At some point later, I managed to have a conversation with him and mentioned that sermon to him and he directed me to a book called “The Common Made Holy” by Neil Anderson and Robert Saucy.

-I lived in that book for several years, trying to get a grasp and understanding of the responsibilities and conditions of holiness in my own personal life. I spent long hours meditating on Scripture, poring over the Bible, grappling with God in prayer, and then trying to live out my life in such a way that it would honor God through this hunger for holiness.

-Anything that was remotely related to holiness, I would try to purchase it. There were sermons on cassettes, CDs, and then on MP3. I gathered books and notes that would fill bookshelves in an effort to understand what my responsibility to God was all about. I have had hours upon hours of conversations with preachers on the phone, at church functions, and then at tables in restaurants.

-All of those men helped me to make a little more forward progress in my walk with God. However, I am coming to understand that there will always be angst in the soul when it comes to the pursuit of the absolute, pure and perfect holiness of God. In fact, I don’t believe that any man can attain to the highest level of holiness that God has for us as long as we are chained to the human body!

-On the other hand, I do know that when we are filled with the Spirit that we have an ability to walk in the Spirit as deemed in Romans 8 (the whole chapter) and we are able to walk as “super-conquerors” (Romans 8:37). Furthermore walking in the Spirit is very closely tied to our own desire to live a godly, disciplined, and holy life (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

-So just recently I again came into contact with some of the words of Jerry Bridges. He was just interviewed for an article that came out in a magazine called TableTalk. The title of the article was called, “The Pursuit of Holiness” and appeared in the January 2012 edition.

-Several quotes stood out to me as I read that article:

There are so many needs in the church today that it is difficult to single out one as the greatest. However, if I had to pick one, I would say the most fundamental need is an ever-growing awareness of the holiness of God.

From my earliest contact with The Navigators, I sensed the need to apply the Scriptures specifically and intentionally to my life. But I struggled with the question, “What is my part and what is God’s part?” Finally, the Lord enabled me to see from the Scriptures the principle I call “dependent responsibility.” We are responsible to respond to the moral commands of Scripture, but we are absolutely dependent on the Holy Spirit to enable us.

But I soon realized that a pursuit of holiness that is not founded on grace and the gospel can lead to a performance mentality and even to discouragement. That’s when I began to emphasize grace and the gospel as foundational to the pursuit of holiness. . . It is my desire that as a result of reading my books, people will seek to pursue holiness out of gratitude for what God has done for us.

He was asked about a more recent book he had written called “Respectable Sins” and had this to say about that title: I observed for some years a growing tendency among conservative evangelicals to focus on the more flagrant sins of society but to overlook our own sins of pride, selfishness, gossip, and the like. Again, it goes back to this: “He who is forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47). Because of our self-righteousness, due to focusing on the major sins of society, we do not see our own desperate need of living by the gospel every day.

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