God has made provision for our holiness and He has also given us a responsibility for it. As we saw in chapters 5 and 7, God’s provision for us consists in delivering us from the reign of sin, uniting us with Christ, and giving us the indwelling Holy Spirit to reveal sin, to create a desire for holiness, and to strengthen us in our pursuit of holiness. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and according to the new nature He gives, we are to put to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:13).
Though it is the Spirit who enables us to put to death our corruptions, yet Paul says this is our action as well. The very same work is from one point of view the work of the Spirit, and from another the work of man.
In the previous chapter we emphasized the “by the Spirit” part of this verse. In this chapter we want to look at our responsibility—“you put to death the misdeeds of the body.”
It is clear from this passage that God puts responsibility for living a holy life squarely on us. We are to do something. We are not to “stop trying and start trusting”; we are to put to death the misdeeds of the body. Over and over again in the epistles—not only Paul’s, but the other apostles’ as well—we are commanded to assume our responsibility for a holy walk. Paul exhorted, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Colossians 3:5). This is something we are told to do.
The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). He says let us throw off the sin and let us run with perseverance. Clearly he expects us to assume responsibility for running the Christian race. James said, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It is we who are to submit to God and resist the devil. This is our responsibility. Peter said, “Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14). The clause make every effort addresses itself to our wills. It is something we must decide to do.
Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1978), 78–79.
I have recently written a 5 week study of Pursuit of Holiness.
This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.