Book Club,  Soul

How to Press On to Holiness

Paul has already taught us to make Jesus the true passion of our hearts and to humble ourselves before the gift of grace in Christ. We continue our study of Philippians 3 with a call by Matt Chandler to a holy discontentment that drives us to strive for holiness – not to attain God’s approval, but because we already have his approval.

Reading for the Week

Philippians 3:12-21

Titus 2:1-8

Chapter 7 – Never Satisfied

Chapter 8 – Centering on the Gospel

Memory Verse

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14
Philippians 3 verse 14

The closer you grow to Jesus, the more the Spirit exposes your life for what it truly is. In chapter 7 of To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain we are encouraged to allow this dissection to show us our flaws, sins and shortcomings. As we get to know our doubts and weaknesses we develop a holy discontentment as we compare ourselves to the perfect holiness of Christ. Matt Chandler encourages us never to be satisfied with our spiritual growth so that we constantly seek more and more of Christ.

Even apostle Paul (“at the varsity level of Christian maturity”) expresses this holy discontentment in Philippians 3:12. This holy discontentment is not dissatisfaction with his salvation but rather with ourselves as compared to Christ. Thus this dissatisfaction does not fill us with fear, anxiety or frustration but rather encourages us to get to know God better, worship him more and pray more sincerely.

The Fuel of Grace

All this talk of striving brings up the question of grace. “Isn’t the idea of grace contrary to this talk about striving, toiling, training and disciplining?” (Matt Chandler)

Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning.

Dallas Willard

Godliness doesn’t happen by itself. You don’t become a Christian and suddenly find yourself holy. There are no examples in scripture of becoming instantly holy after encountering God. In fact, the opposite is true. The Israelites start worshipping the golden calf while Moses is still on the mountain right after God led them out of Egypt through ten crazy plagues and a Passover miracle.

If we truly believed we were saved apart from our works, we would work harder purely out of gratitude and worship. This is not the same thing as – and should be continually distinguished from – working hard for God’s approval. It is the difference between obeying to be accepted and obeying because we are accepted.

Matt Chandler, To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain

The fact that we have received grace inspires us to set spiritual goals and grow in our knowledge of scripture. Grace is not contrary to work but is the fuel for growth. We have faith because of God’s grace so we substantiate this faith by filling up with works. Our works prove our faithfulness as James describes in James 2:26 “faith apart from works is dead.”

We are saved through faith alone, but not by faith alone.

John Calvin

Grace and striving are not mutually exclusive. We are saved by grace, not by our striving, but we are saved from our striving so that we can strive after Christ.

Reflection Questions

Download the discussion questions for Chapter 7 below.

Video Session

In this video session of Chapter 7, Matt Chandler shares how we can pursue Jesus more.

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