Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots
By: J.C. Ryle
Felt by many to be J. C Ryle’s masterwork, Holiness has been challenging and encouraging Christians toward holiness for over a century. First exploring the nature of sin, sanctification, and holiness, Ryle then draws examples from the Scriptures to argue that professing one’s faith isn’t merely enough to live the true Christian life.
The Book that changed my Life—Holiness
A Testimony: by Charity Mwenya, a member of Kabwata Baptist Church – Posted by Conrad Mbewe.
When I became a Christian in the late 1980s, the subject of Holiness brought a lot of expectations in my mind. I perceived holiness as a state of completeness and perfection. I was expecting that my life would change in such a way that I will be a perfect being, free from sin or any struggles with sin. It was not long before reality dawned on me that I was far from perfect. I was sad and confused. “Can anyone ever live a holy Life?” When I visited a couple and saw a book entitled Holiness by Bishop J C Ryle on their bookshelf, I didn’t hesitate to borrow it.
Reading the book changed my view of holiness completely. Firstly it made me realise that I had a wrong view of holiness. Whilst it is true that Christians will finally be made perfect, it is not true that they attain that state immediately they become Christians. That is not to say that they live a life in perpetual sin, because doing so is a sure indicator of not being Christians. Rather, the book explains that holiness is living a life that makes every effort to shun every known sin, striving to be more like our Lord Jesus Christ, and being of one mind with God.
Further, I learnt that holiness is not stagnant but progressive. A person who lives a holy life will know growth in their love for God and hatred for sin. This will be evidenced by increased humility, as they learn more of God’s character; and increased zeal and diligence in doing good in service to God. This, I learnt, will not come automatically but requires a deliberate, consistent, and diligent effort in spending time in prayer, in studying and meditating on God’s word, and in self examination.
I also learnt that the journey of holiness is not always smooth. There are many sorrows, troubles, temptations, and trials. I have weaknesses; but I have a Saviour who is both God and Man, the ‘Ruler of the waves’, who sympathises with me and intercedes for me. This brought courage and comfort, and it helped me to look forward to living each day as it comes; with its own challenges and blessings.
The simplicity and practicality of the book made reading easy and yet gave me rich instructions and inspiration for living the Christian life. It helped me appreciate that life here on earth is a preparation for life in heaven. So if I am going to dwell with a holy God eternally then I need to live a holy life now.
Whilst I was looking for a book that will tell me how to attain perfection, what I got was a book that challenged to a lifelong journey of progressively seeking God, living a life of self denial, loving God and hating what He hates, and being dependent on Him to lead me to final perfection.