Holiness in Spirit

Men’s Small Group // April 4, 2022

This is a lesson I prepared for a men’s small group and is based on the book “Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges (Chapter 12)

2 Corinthians 6:16 – 7:1 ESV
[6:16] What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, [18] and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
[7:1] Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Body & Spirit

  • How often do we read this verse, or verses like it, and pass over the word spirt? If you’re like me, then it is fairly regularly.  I readily agree with the cleansing of the body and have been known to work diligently to keep my appearance looking holy.
  • I have become quite adept at wearing my mask of holiness so that you all will think highly of me. I’ve also become adept at believing that this same mask makes me holy! I begin to believe and accept the deception as truth.
  • What I mean is that I can work hard at giving the right appearances and put measures in place to curb the outward appearance of sin. This is good and right. I need to bring my body under control and not let sin be kindled through my actions. It’s just that I want to stop there.
  • But God is calling us to holiness not just in our body, but in our spirit and mind.

Ephesians 4:20-24 ESV
[4:20] But that is not the way you learned Christ!— [21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, [22] to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Bridges, “Holiness begins in our minds and works out to our actions.” p.92

  • Our spirit and mind are of extreme importance. Those things that we allow into our mind, those things that we daydream about, those things that we fantasize about…They have a critical impact on our walk with Christ.
  • It’s these “acceptable” sins that we must also purify ourselves from. Sins that we think are so minuscule and unimportant that we relegate them to the dark corridors of our heart as we deal with the “real” sins of our body.
  • We misunderstand that the call to holiness begins with these “acceptable” sins. These sins, left unchecked, will ultimately determine our character.
  • Bridges quotes a well known saying, “Sow a thought, reap an act; Sow an act, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character.” Does this sound familiar?

Inner Life

Bridges outlines several areas where we can potentially neglect our inner life and let these “acceptable” sins take root.

  1. Envy, jealousy, coveting
    • 1 Samuel 18:8 ESV // And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?”
  2. Bitterness
    • Jonah 4:9 ESV // But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”
  3. Unforgiving Spirit
    • Matthew 18:21-22 ESV // Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” [22] Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
  4. Spirit of Retaliation (In mind and action)
    • 1 Peter 2:22-23 ESV // He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. [23] When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
  5. Critical Spirit
    • Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV // There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: [17] haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, [18] a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, [19] a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Reflection Questions

  • Bridges outlines several areas where we can potentially neglect our inner life and let these “acceptable” sins take root. How do you see each of these “taking root” in your heart?
    • Envy, jealousy, coveting
    • Bitterness
    • Unforgiving Spirit
    • Spirit of Retaliation (In mind and action)
    • Critical Spirit
  • Bridges quotes a well known saying, “Sow a thought, reap an act; Sow an act, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character.” How do you see this working out in your life?
  • How are you working to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind?” (Ephesians 4:23)

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