By Lyndel Erin Hobbs
“That’s not very practical!” Have you ever heard that after a doctrinal sermon? I contend that our doctrine determines our behavior. Those I know who practice personal holiness are very strong in their doctrinal understanding.
Does the doctrine of election result in personal holiness? One cannot hold to the doctrine of election, that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4) without considering the ramifications on our personal behavior. God did not just “choose us to be saved,” as we might say. He chose us to be holy!
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10
In addition to the following, note Titus 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:10; Isa. 43:41; Acts 9:15.
“As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Pet. 1:15-16
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, . . .forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Col 3:12-13
“Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Rom. 8:29
If we could simply get a glimpse of the awesome majesty and sovereignty of our God, and of how gracious is His choosing us out of the horror of our sin and rebellion against Him, and His forgiving us, how could we do anything other than desire to live our lives pure before Him? “Love, so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Who could articulate this better than C. H. Spurgeon? I commend to you his motivational sermon, Election and Holiness,1which was the original motivation for this article and from which I obtained the following excerpts. You will enjoy reading it.
“Election is a separation. God has set apart him that is godly for himself, has separated a people out of the mass of mankind. Does that separation allow us to draw the inference thus:—‘God has separated me, therefore, I will live as other men live.’ No! If I believe that God has distinguished me by his discriminating love, and separated me, then I hear the cry, ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate.’”
“Christian men keep from sin because their nature abhors sin. Do not imagine we are kept back from sin because we are terrified with threats of damnation, we have no fear, except the fear of offending our loving Father.”
“The men that have believed this doctrine have been the wide world over. . . have been the most zealous, most earnest, most holy men.. . . Never were men more heavenly-minded than the Puritans; and what Puritan can you find that holds any other doctrine than that which I preach today? You may find some modern doctor who teaches the reverse, but march through centuries, and with few exceptions, where are the saints who denied the Election of God?. . .Martyrs died for it! They sealed the truth with their blood.”
“To man that is renewed by grace, there is no doctrine that could make him love sin.”
1Charles Spurgeon, Sermon 303, “Election and Holiness,” in The Spurgeon Archive, ed. Phillip R. Johnson, accessed March 2, 2012, www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0303.htm.