The words ‘piety’, ‘holiness’, ‘righteousness’ amongst others are words few hear today from church pulpits without thinking of the evils of legalism. Even the word ‘religion’ has been lambasted to the point of being equal to that of the ideology of the Pharisees.
What has occurred though to a great degree is that the idea of piety itself, properly defined, in Biblical terms has been left by the way side, in the wake of moving from one extreme to the other. Personal holiness is something that is lightly if ever talked about. We talk about our mistakes or external sins here and there, for sure, but how often are we admonished to pursue virtuous piety, in the terms the Bible describes? It is a shame personal holiness is not advocated the way the Scripture advocate it. The problem is that you risk offending people, which is exactly what Scripture does to sinners (like myself) who are in violation of God’s law. It brings rebuke and correction, something our “enlightened” American society has a hard time with.
A champion of the Biblical concept of piety from historic evangelicalism is John Calvin. Calvin wrote extensively about holiness and personal piety in light of the work of Christ, particularly in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. This is something teachers and preachers need to recover. Watch below as Ligon Duncan discusses John Calvin’s life and his emphasis on personal piety in the life of the Christian and why it was so important to him.
“John Calvin is sometimes perceived as a dry and dusty academic whose writings deal only with abstract theological topics. To read Calvin, however, is to read one who was devoted to seeing God’s Word impact the lives of Christian people everywhere. In this message, Ligon Duncan explores some of Calvin’s most practical wisdom for those who seek to follow Christ.” – Calvin and the Christian Life, Ligon Duncan