One of the Marks of God’s Image in Man is the Ability to Exercise Moral Choice

In this utter dependence of all things upon the creative will of God lies the possibility for both holiness and sin.  One of the marks of God’s image in man in his ability to exercise moral choice.  The teaching of Christianity is that man chose to be independent of God and confirmed his choice by deliberately disobeying a divine command.  This act violated the relationship that normally existed between God and His creature; it rejected God as the ground of existence and threw man back upon himself.  Thereafter he became not a planet revolving around the central Sun, but a sun in his own right, around which everything else must revolve.

– A.W.Tozer; Knowledge of the Holy; Kindle Version; Page 24

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What Truly Believing the Gospel Produces in Us

Truly believing the gospel produces in us a concern for the poor, a love of Scripture, a desire to be in authentic community, a love for holiness, and everything else that is part of the Christian life.  Those behaviors are the results of (or, fruits of) faith in the gospel.  Believing precedes right behaving.

– Greear, J.D.; Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary; B&H Publishing Group; Nashville, TN; Copyright 2011; Kindle Edition; page

Grace and Holiness – Its Not Either/Or but Both/And

It is not news to most Christians that the gospel of God’s grace is good news and that we also need to grow in our holiness.  The challenge is putting these two truths together in a biblical way.  Some have perhaps so emphasized God’s grace that people lose sight of striving toward the goal of holiness, while others put so much stress on the need for holiness that, for struggling sinners, Christianity seems hardly to be good news anymore.

– Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philippsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 13

We Need to Correct Our Natural Tendency to Dwell on “ME”

Therefore, the accountability we really need is the kind that corrects our natural tendency to dwell on me – my obedience (or lack thereof), my performance (good or bad), my holiness – instead of on Christ and His obedience, His performance and His holiness for me.

– Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 69

Sanctification, Not Just Justification, Requires the Gospel

Yet we are on the wrong track if we think that the gospel was only necessary for “getting saved” and not for staying saved – even for growing in holiness.  It is always “in view of God’s mercies” that we can offer ourselves as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2).  Our sanctification, no less than our justification depends on Christ’s absolution, so that we live out of gratitude rather than guilt and out of faith rather than self-trust.  No longer trying to make God indebted to us, we receive his gift and share it with others.  The gospel makes us extroverts: looking outside of ourselves to Christ in faith and to our neighbor in love.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 132

But God Sometimes Chooses a Different Way…

To be sure, our lives and the holiness, obedience, or fruitfulness we enjoyed are empowered and enabled by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. But God often chooses to work through people who desire to do his will, obey his commands, lean upon his grace, and are filled with the Spirit. Paul himself demonstrated this, saying, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which is with me.” (I Corinthians 15:10)

– Driscoll, Mark; Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in ChristThomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, copyright 2013; Page 56

There Is No Happiness Without Holiness

There is no happiness without holiness.  Created in God’s image “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever,” our fulfillment, meaning and pleasure are found in friendship with God.  As the church father Augustine expressed it in the form of a prayer, “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 40