The Worst Chains

Over the past few months I’ve been slowly reading through a book called Holiness by J.C. Ryle.  It’s a fantastic book, and there’s a great quote on almost every page, but I find myself taking it in small pieces and coming back to it every few days.

The “chains” mentioned above are probably not what you would think.  Let me give you part of the preceding paragraph so you’ll see what he’s referring to:

The saddest symptom about many so-called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight [against spiritual apathy] in their Christianity.  They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week.  But of the great spiritual warfare – it’s watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests – of all thing they appear to know nothing at all.  Let us take care that this case is not our own.

Not to say that there’s anything we can do to earn God’s love, or anything close to that.  Scripture is clear that it’s only through faith in Jesus that people can be right with God.  It’s not about what you do, say, or think that makes you close to God – it’s all about the price Jesus paid to ransom our lives.

But once a person has been redeemed – once their life has been changed by the life-giving power of Christ – there should be something within us that fights back against the world’s temptation to become spiritually numb and go with the flow.

I’m asking God to give me grace and strength to face the ever-present temptation to be chained with lukewarmness and spiritual laziness.

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I recently started reading a book called Holiness by J. C. Ryle. As soon as I heard of the book (I saw it mentioned in another blog’s comments), I knew that it was something I needed to read.

There were a couple of reasons in particular that it interested me:

  1. With the nationwide push for churches to be cool and relevant, holiness seems to be often overlooked.
  2. I really desire holiness in my life, but honestly, I fall so short of it even with my best intentions.

I’m only a few chapters into the book, but nearly every paragraph contains a powerful nugget of truth. I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes just in case you’re interested.

Here’s one of my favorite lines: “A true Christian is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within. He may be known by his warfare as well as by his peace.”

Contrasting justification and sanctification: “Justification is a finished and complete work, and a man is perfectly justified the moment he believes. Sanctification is an imperfect work, comparatively, and will never be perfected until we reach heaven.”

“Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God… agreeing in [His] judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.”

“I do not say for a moment that holiness shuts out the presence of indwelling sin. No, far from it. It is the greatest misery… that the old man is clogging all his movements and, as it were, trying to draw him back at every step he takes (Rom. 7:21).”

“In short, to talk of men being saved from the guilt of sin, without being at the same time saved from its dominion in their hearts, is to contradict the witness of all Scripture.”

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