9.14.2006

The Practice of Godliness

I'm reading a great book right now called "The Practice of Godliness,"
by Jerry Bridges. A follow-up to his best-seller, "The Pursuit of
Holiness," it highlights aspects of godliness we Christians ought to
uphold and offers insights on how to uphold them.

This morning, I came across a passage I wanted to excerpt here:

"To paraphrase a writer from a previous century, so often when we sin
we are more vexed at the lowering of our self-esteem than we are
grieved at God's dishonor. We are irrirated at our lack of
self-control in subjecting ourselves to some unworthy habit. We are
unable to stand the disappointment of seeing ourselves fail. God does
not honor these self-centered desires. This is one reason we do not
experience more of his enabling power in our day-to-day struggles with
so-called besetting sins. God does not give us his power so that we
might feel good about ourselves; he gives us his power so that we can
obey him for his sake, for his glory."

This notion of subjecting our behavior to another for the purpose of
pleasing them is one that we don't particularly like in modern times.
We are uncomfortable with anything that seems too close to slavery.
Few of us have bosses in our workplaces who we truly desire to please.
None of us want to be in a romantic relationship where satisfying the
other person is our sole purpose in life.

On the other hand, conquering our flesh, gaining victory over a
nagging sin, demonstrating our ability to attain righteousness through
sheer devotion and perseverance; these are approaches we can get
excited about. And so we pursue the right ends with the wrong means.

Whether or not we are comfortable with the notion of God as our
master, boss, or lover, it is true that our lives as Christians should
be about living in ways that bring pleasure and honor to Him. When
our desire is for Him, and sin is seen as a displeasing offense to His
righteousness rather than a frustrating chink in our self-made armor
of righteousness, that is when, according to Bridges, we can truly
begin to practice godliness.

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