Pursuing Holiness For Joy

Hebrews 12:1-4

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

In our life groups we have begun studying the importance of pursuing holiness in our daily lives. God has called all of His children to pursue holiness (1 Peter 1:16) so this study is a very necessary one. As I have thought about pursuing holiness I came across Hebrews 12:1-4 and it provided a very refreshing reminder about what should motivate us on this pursuit. As the author of Hebrews urges believers to rid themselves of the sin in their lives he reminds them to find their strength and example in Jesus. Verse 2 tells us that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. This mean that Jesus defined what true faith is. His faith and life wrote the manuel on what living for God's glory is all about. This makes Jesus the perfect example for believers as we pursue holiness.

So what do we see from our perfect example as He pursued holiness? Verse 2 shares what motivated Jesus to pursue holiness even when facing extreme hardship; even the cross. As we read verse 2 we don’t see Jesus pursuing holiness to fulfill a duty He had. He didn’t pursue holiness b/c “that is what a good Savior does.” He didn’t pursue holiness to try and earn God’s favor. Why did He continue to pursue holiness, even in the face of a brutal day on the cross for a  sinful, undeserving people? Verse 2 says, “who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross.” Jesus pursued holiness, even in the midst of the greatest suffering, FOR JOY! It delighted His soul to bring God glory. He also looked ahead to the eternal joy that was stored up for Him in Heaven with God. He found more joy in pursuing holiness than following after anything this life could offer. When Jesus chose the cross He chose joy. That seems to be a contradiction doesn’t? The cross did not seem like an option full of joy, but rather pain and shame. Jesus saw it differently though. He saw the cross as a way to honor and glorify God and thus it was full of joy.

If Jesus is to be our example, and He is, we ought to pursue holiness for the Joy that is set before us just as He did. Many believers lose sight of this. We often pursue holiness out of duty. We can see obeying God’s Word as a big checklist our lives are governed by. God never intended holiness to be this. God calls us to be holy as He is holy to lead us to deep, satisfying joy. Jesus saw it this way. We should not pursue holiness in our lives out of duty, but rather delight. Our hearts should soar at the thought of bringing God glory and making Him look good. Our soul should swell with happiness at the thought of pleasing God with our lives.

Even our memory verses this week point to this truth when the psalmist says,

Psalms 119:1-2

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart. 

The word “blessed” literally means “happy.” You could read these verses as teaching that those who live out the Word of God are happy. We should find joy and happiness by pursuing God and holiness in our lives as it can offer satisfaction like nothing else can.

As you pursue holiness in your life don’t pursue it out of duty, but pursue it out of delight. Take pleasure in honoring God with your life. Know that joy lies ahead of you as you live your life for God. Sometimes following God can be difficult. The world will entice us and tell us that it can satisfy. Follow Jesus’ example by seeing through these lies and pursuing the joy that can only be found in Him. Choose joy in your life by choosing to follow Jesus and pursue holiness.

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