God’s Blueprint and Ours: Our Pursuit Of God is Patterned After God’s Pursuit of Himself

In the last post, we looked at God’s own passion for His Holiness.1 And we said one of the reasons that this is so important is that God’s pursuit of his holiness is foundational for our pursuit of God’s holiness. To say it another way, our pursuit of God’s holiness is meant to mirror God’s pursuit of his holiness. Christians imitate God and join Him in pursuing His holiness in three ways. First, if God’s holiness is his separateness from all sin and evil; then likewise Christians’ pursuit of holiness is a separateness from all sin and evil. This beautiful truth is connected with the core of the gospel. All people are, by nature, sinful human beings and God, by nature, must be separate Himself from all sin and evil. Indeed, the beautiful pure, infinitely valuable gold of God’s holiness cannot be mixed with the dross of our sin and evil. Nevertheless, through Jesus Christ, God gave that which he required. Through faith in the perfect and holy God, sinners are purified from their sin and given, as Martin Luther says, an alien righteousness, that is not their own. Through the gospel, God sets us apart a people for himself and makes them “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9). And, on the basis of that new identity, he calls them to imitate Him, to be like him.2 They are called to be separate from the world—to “be holy as [He is] holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). In his Body of Practical Divinity, Thomas Watson, illustrates this beautiful reality when he says “We must endeavor to be like God in sanctity. It is a clear glass in which we can see a face; it is a holy heart in which something of God can be seen.”3 As God is set apart from all sin and evil, so his people are called to be set apart and pure. As God’s nature is like a pure gold that is not mixed with the dross of sin and evil, so His people are called, to be vessels of pure gold unmixed with the dross of sin and this world.

Second, just as God’s holiness is his intense commitment to the perfection of his will; so Christians are called to devote themselves to God Himself and the things he love. As mentioned earlier, God’s intense commitment to the perfection of His was not only His commitment to passionate pursue the things God loves, but was, first and foremost, God’s passionate, intense love for and devotion to Himself. Ferguson explains how this has important implications for Christians’ pursuit of sanctification, arguing that the believers’ sanctification “is not something mechanical, or formal, or legal, or even performance-based. It is personal. In a sense holiness is a way of describing love.”4 Indeed, in sanctification Christians are called to pursue a deep, intense, and personal love for God that is more intense than even the most intimate, deep, and intense marital love. In short, God desires that we would fall passionately and ever-increasingly in love with Him.

Finally, just as God’s glory is displaying of His holiness, so we are called to glorify God by displaying that devotion to God Himself and to His will is most supremely valuable treasure in the universe. Have you ever asked “what does it mean to glory God?” Piper explains that to glorify God is to magnify God. However, even this answer requires further explanation, for there are two ways to magnify something. One can either magnify an object the way a microscope does or a telescope does. While “a microscope makes tiny things look bigger than they are.” “telescopes make huge things, which already look tiny, appear more like what they really are.” We are called to magnify (or glorify) God like a telescope, rather than a microscope. That is, as Christians, we glorify God by testifying to the reality of who God is. Although the world portrays God as tiny, irrelevant, and insignificant, Christians are called to testifying that God Himself is the single most important Being in all the universe. In fact, He is infinitely more important than the rest of the universe combined.5

If this is what Christians are called to, then, the next question is how do Christians testify to the reality of who God is? Scripture clearly says that we testify to the reality of who God is (i.e. what the Bible calls glorifying God) by living our lives in such a way that displays that God Himself is the most supremely valuable entity in all the universe. The way that you know what someone treasures is by looking at what they value in their life. And they way you know what someone values is by examining what they give their time, energy, attention, and affections to. Therefore, Christians glorify God by giving their time, energy, attention, and affections to God Himself and those things that he loves. As Piper says, “there is a correlation between the measure of our intensity in worship and the degree to which we exhibit the value of the glory of God. Lukewarm affection for God gives the impression that he is moderately pleasing.”6 Indeed, we greatly delight ourselves in Him and the things He loves because He is the most delightful Being in all the universe.

[1] This article is an expand and updated version of one section of Greg Salazar, “Growing in Christ-likeness,” in Joel R. Beeke, ed., Growing in Grace (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020).

[2] Sinclair B. Ferguson, Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), p.18.

[3] Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity (London: Thomas Parkhurst, 1692), p.143.

[4] Ferguson, Devoted to God, p.2.

[5] John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), p.51.

[6] Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p.60.

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