(The next few posts will be some gleanings from John Calvin’s Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life.)
“A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it…” (Isaiah 35:8-10).
The first chapter of this short, insightful book, is about obedience (always a great place to start). Calvin observes that man is by nature “sluggish,” and we have to be urged, prodded, and stimulated to press on to holiness. He identifies holiness as the key principle, the one rule of the Bible, so we must be instructed to love holiness. Loving and obeying Christ is the only way to holiness.
Calvin defines holiness as full obedience to Christ. Not half-hearted. Not on Sunday only. Not a little here and a little there. Holiness requires us to be sold out completely. If we love Jesus, we obey His commands. If we obey His commands, we grow in Christian character, because we become more like Him. As a result, our faith prospers and grows, our hearts are enlarged, we make real spiritual progress.
Obedience means looking for the biblical principle in all the little things. But in order to know the principle, you have to know your Bible. Women often struggle with finding the time to read their Bibles and pray. Busy moms of little children in particular feel sometimes like they are stalled out in their Christian life, just trying to keep all the home fires burning. But women in all walks of life can have the same trouble. Start by praying about it. Ask God to help you find the time to read your Bible. We often think we must have a forty-five minute quiet time if we want to be godly. God doesn’t set the timer. We do find the time for the things we really want or really must do every day. Don’t be sluggish when it comes to your spiritual life.
Holiness is not something we can attain to on our own, even if we read our Bibles for hours a day. Holiness is a blessing God bestows on us. At the same time, it requires that we “leave the city of man to live in the city of God.” Christ is our pattern of holiness, and we are to imitate Him, be conformed to Him, and exhibit His character. Holiness is a sign of our adoption, and we must behave as though we are His children,
Spiritual progress is not optional. Though we cannot and should not set a standard of perfection for others, we should set our sights on our own obedience and have zero tolerance of any form of disobedience in ourselves. We should desire to make progress each day, and be encouraged even if it is just a little. This means always moving forward, pressing on, never despairing or giving up.
One of the essential conditions for spiritual progress is humility. Your progress may not look like much, but be encouraged. If you thought you were super-spiritual, you would actually be in the perfect spot for a fall. Pride will always be a hindrance to holiness.