How is Gospel Grace the Best Motive to Holiness?
2 Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. And…



III. HOLINESS IS INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY UNTO ALL JUSTIFIED PERSONS. As it was necessary that Christ should take upon Him our flesh, so it is as necessary that we should receive from Him His Spirit. As it is storied of one who was very debauched and wicked, and, taking up a Bible, which by his religion he had not been acquainted with (being a Papist), he confessed that whatsoever book that was, it made against him; so unless thou dost sincerely labour after holiness, there is never a word in all the book of God that speaks any comfort unto thee, none of the fruit that grows upon the Tree of Life can be tasted by thee. This might be more evinced if we fix our mind on these following reasons: —

1. From the nature of God. I mean the essential holiness of His nature, by which He cannot have communion with any one that is unholy, no more than light can have "fellowship with darkness"; but He indispensably hates and opposes all wickedness, and hath declared His enmity against it. Neither can the gospel change God's nature, or make Him less to abhor sin. It is indeed a declaration of the way and means which God hath ordained to exalt his grace and mercy to the sinner by; but it is in saving of him from his sin, and not with it.

2. From the requisites in the gospel itself. All the privileges of the gospel do include or pre-suppose departing from iniquity. How did the Jews search every hole and corner of their houses to find out leaven, and how earnestly did they cast it away I or else the paschal lamb would not have availed them, and the destroying angel would not have passed from them. And "these things are our examples" (1 Corinthians 10:7), and tell us, that unless we industriously search out and cast away the leaven of sin and Wickedness, the very death of Christ, the Lamb of God, will profit us nothing. Let us take a view of the privileges of those that are saved by the gospel, and see how they are obliged to holiness by them.

(1) Election is the first. And if we are "chosen in Christ Jesus," the apostle tells us, that we are "chosen in Him, that we should be holy and without blame before Him" (Ephesians 1:4).

(2) Our vocation is unto holiness.

(3) Our regeneration, or being born again, which the gospel insists so much upon, is in being made like unto God. "Partakers of the Divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).

(4) And what is glory, which we seek for, and endeavour after, but only holiness in perfection? (Romans 2:7.) Grace is glory in the bud, glory is grace in the flower. Christian is not an empty name; and being called so makes us not to be so. Every one is not a scholar, or an artist in any faculty, who is called so. Besides, Christianity is a practical science; and thou hast no more of it than thou dost practise. What should an unholy heart do in heaven? There are no carnal delights.

3. It is written in our very natures, did we but understand them. Every man that receives a reasoning soul is, by his receiving of it, obliged to give God a reasonable service.


1. If it be to expiate for by-past offences, or to merit undeserved favours, it must needs be abominable in the sight of God, being the highest act of pride or presumption that can be imagined. Let our works be what they will, though the best "are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6), if they be offered unto God by way of barter or exchange, they become most abominable: as if God stood in need of something that we have, or that we were so sufficient as to be able to benefit God too.

2. To depart from iniquity, or to labour in holiness, in order to express our thankfulness unto God for His mercies in Jesus Christ, is most grateful and most forcible.

3. Love unto God for all His glorious excellencies, especially for His mercy in Christ Jesus, is the best principle of holiness and of our departing from iniquity. God requires His children to give Him their heart (Proverbs 23:26). Now love is as a fire which "many waters cannot quench." Difficulties will be overcome, and obedience will be permanent, where true love to God is. And this love in the soul to God is begun by and flows from God's love first unto the soul, as fire kindles fire: "He loved us first" (1 John 4:19).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

WEB: However God's firm foundation stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness."

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