The Necessity of Holiness (Part 5)

In last week’s posts, we considered together the “doctrine” or proposition of Jonathan Edwards’s sermon, “The Way of Holiness,” which was “Those only that are holy are in the way to heaven.” In three separate posts I gave three of the reasons Edwards gives for why the pursuit of holiness in the Christian life is not optional but essential to our salvation. Holy is not something we vaguely hope to be, but something we must be. Sanctification is something that God absolutely works and wills in his people as he moves us from justification to glorification (Rom. 8:30). This week we’ll look at how Edwards applies this doctrine. The first application he calls the “[Application] of Inference” (9):

“If it be so that none but those that are holy are in the way to heaven, how many poor creatures are there than think they are in the way to heaven who are not? There are many that think that they are undoubtedly in the way to heaven, and without question shall enter there at last, that have not the least grain of true holiness; that manifest none in their lives and conversation, of whom we may be certain that either they have no holiness at all, or that which they is a dormant, inactive sort–which is in effect to be certain that there is none. …What a pitiable, miserable condition they are in: to step out of this world into an uncertain eternity, with an expectation of finding themselves exceedingly happy and blessed in the highest heaven, and all at once find themselves deceived…finding themselves sinking in the bottomless pit” (10).

Friends, we need to talk like this and think like this more often. It is not unloving but loving to shake brothers and sisters out of their spiritual lassitude by warning them of the danger of becoming indifferent to holiness (see Heb 10:26-31).

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