Would You Be Holy?

J. C. Ryle

Excerpted from Holiness

Would you be holy? Would you become a new creature? Then you must begin with Christ. You will do just nothing at all, and make no progress till you feel your sin and weakness, and flee to Him. He is the root and beginning of all holiness, and the way to be holy is to come to Him by faith and be joined to Him.

Christ is not wisdom and righteousness only to His people, but sanctification also. Men sometimes try to make themselves holy first of all, and sad work they make of it. They toil and labour and turn over many new leaves and make many changes, and yet, like the woman with the issue of blood, before she came to Christ, they feel ‘nothing bettered, but rather worse’ (Mark 5:26). They run in vain and labour in vain, and little wonder, for they are beginning at the wrong end. They are building up a wall of sand; their work runs down as fast as they throw it up. They are baling water out of a leaky vessel; the leak gains on them, not they on the leak.

Other foundation(s) of holiness can no man lay than that which Paul laid, even Christ Jesus. Without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). It is a strong but true saying of Traill’s: ‘Wisdom out of Christ is damning folly; righteousness out of Christ is guilt and condemnation; sanctification out of Christ is filth and sin; redemption out of Christ is bondage and slavery.’ Do you want to attain holiness? Do you feel this day a real hearty desire to be holy? Would you be a partaker of the divine nature? Then go to Christ. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Linger not. Think not to make yourself ready. Go and say to Him, in the words of that beautiful hymn,

‘Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, flee to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace.’

There is not a brick nor a stone laid in the work of our sanctification till we go to Christ. Holiness is His special gift to His believing people. Holiness is the work He carries on in their hearts by the Spirit whom He puts within them. He is appointed a ‘Prince and a Saviour . . . to give repentance’ as well as remission of sins. To as many as receive Him, He gives power to become sons of God (Acts 5:31; John 9:12, 13). Holiness comes not of blood: parents cannot give it to their children; nor yet of the will of the flesh: man cannot produce it in himself; nor yet of the will of man: ministers cannot give it you by baptism. Holiness comes from Christ. It is the result of vital union with Him. It is the fruit of being a living branch of the true Vine. Go then to Christ and say, ‘Lord, not only save me from the guilt of sin, but send the Spirit, whom Thou didst promise, and save me from its power. Make me holy. Teach me to do Thy will.’

Ryle, J. C.. Holiness (pp. 51-52). Heritage Bible Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

Our Necessary Trials

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Evening Thought

Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: That which I see not teach you me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. Job 34:31-32

OH, what a detector of the secret state of our souls does the season of trial often prove! We are not aware of our impaired strength, of our weak faith, of our powerless grace—how feeble our hold on Christ is—how legal our views of the gospel are—how beclouded our minds may be—how partial our acquaintance with God is—until we are led into the path of trouble. The season of prosperity veils the real state of our souls from our view. No Christian can form an accurate estimate of his spiritual condition, who has not been brought into a state of trial. We faint in the day of adversity, because we then find—what, perhaps, was not even suspected in the day of prosperity—that our strength is small.

But seasons of trial are emphatically what the word expresses—they try the work in the souls of the righteous. The inner life derives immense advantage from them. The deeper discovery that is then made of the evil of the heart is not the least important result: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

What folly still dwells in the hearts of the wise—bound up and half concealed—who can tell? Who would have suspected such developments in the life of Abraham, of David, of Solomon, of Peter? And so is it with all who yet are the possessors of that wisdom which will guide their souls to eternal glory. Folly is bound up in their hearts; but the sanctified rod of correction reveals it, and the discovery proves one of the costliest blessings in the experience of the disciplined child.

Listen to the language of Moses, addressed to the children of Israel: “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or no.” And oh, what a discovery that forty years’ marching and counter-marching in the wilderness was to them of the pride, and impatience, and unbelief, and ingratitude, and distrust that were bound up in their heart! And yet, though all this evil was deep-seated in their nature, they knew it not, and suspected it not, until trial brought it to the surface. Thus, beloved, is it with us. The latent evil is brought to light. God leaves us to try what is in our heart, and this may be the first step in the reviving of His gracious work in our souls. Oh, let us not, then, shrink from the probing, nor startle at its discovery, if it but lead us nearer to holiness, nearer to Christ, nearer to God, nearer to heaven!

The time of trouble is often, too, a, time of remembrance. and so becomes a time of reviving. Past backslidings—unthought of, unsuspected, and unconfessed—are recalled to memory in the season that God is dealing with us. David had forgotten his transgression, and the brethren of Joseph their sin, until trouble summoned it back to memory. Times of trial are searching times, remembering times. Then with David we exclaim, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Your testimonies: I made haste, and delayed not to keep Your commandments.”

Rejoicing in Our Afflictions

C. H. Spurgeon

This Evening’s Meditation

“Doth Job fear God for nought?”
Job 1:9

This was the wicked question of Satan concerning that upright man of old, but there are many in the present day concerning whom it might be asked with justice, for they love God after a fashion because he prospers them; but if things went ill with them, they would give up all their boasted faith in God.

If they can clearly see that since the time of their supposed conversion the world has gone prosperously with them, then they will love God in their poor carnal way; but if they endure adversity, they rebel against the Lord. Their love is the love of the table, not of the host; a love to the cupboard, not to the master of the house.

As for the true Christian, he expects to have his reward in the next life, and to endure hardness in this. The promise of the old covenant was prosperity, but the promise of the new covenant is adversity. Remember Christ’s words–“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit”–What? “He purgeth it, that it may bring forth fruit.”

If you bring forth fruit, you will have to endure affliction. “Alas!” you say, “that is a terrible prospect.” But this affliction works out such precious results, that the Christian who is the subject of it must learn to rejoice in tribulations, because as his tribulations abound, so his consolations abound by Christ Jesus.

Rest assured, if you are a child of God, you will be no stranger to the rod. Sooner or later every bar of gold must pass through the fire. Fear not, but rather rejoice that such fruitful times are in store for you, for in them you will be weaned from earth and made meet for heaven; you will be delivered from clinging to the present, and made to long for those eternal things which are so soon to be revealed to you. When you feel that as regards the present you do serve God for nought, you will then rejoice in the infinite reward of the future.

On Our Continuing Sin

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Evening Thought

For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. Psalm 38:18

The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

SEEK, cherish, and cultivate constantly and habitually a broken heart for sin. Do not think that it is a work which, once done, is to be done no more. Deem it not a primary stage in your spiritual journey, which, once reached, never again occurs in your celestial progress.

Oh no! As in the natural life we enter the world weeping, and leave it weeping, so in the spiritual life—we begin it in tears of godly sorrow for sin, and we terminate it in tears of godly sorrow for sin—passing away to that blessed state of sinlessness, where God will wipe away all tears from our eyes.

The indwelling of all evil—the polluting nature of the world along which we journey—our constant exposure to temptations of every kind—the many occasions on which we yield to those temptations, the perpetual developments of sin unseen, unknown, even unsuspected by others—the defilement which attaches itself to all that we put our hands to, even the most spiritual and holy and heavenly, the consciousness of what a holy God must every moment see in us—all, all these considerations should lead us to cherish that spirit of lowliness and contrition, self-abhorrence and self-renunciation, inward mortification and outward humility of deportment, which belong to and which truly prove the existence of the life of God in our souls.

And what, too, prompts a constant traveling to the atoning blood?—what endears the Savior who shed that blood?—what is it that makes His flesh food indeed, and His blood drink indeed?—what is it that keeps the conscience tender and clean?—what enables the believer to walk with God as a dear child? Oh, it is the sacred contrition of the lowly spirit, springing from a view of the cross of Jesus, and through the cross leading to the heart of God.

Backsliding Christian! do you feel within your heart the kindlings of godly sorrow? Are you mourning over your wandering, loathing the sin that drew you from Christ, that grieved the Spirit, and wounded your own peace? Are you longing to feed again in the green pastures of the flock, and by the side of the Shepherd of the flock, assured once more that you are a true sheep, belonging to the one fold, known by, and precious to, the heart of Him who laid down His life for the sheep?

Then approach the altar of Calvary, and upon it lay the sacrifice of a broken and a contrite heart, and your God will accept it. The door of your return stands open—the pierced heart of Jesus. The golden scepter that bids you approach is extended—the outstretched hand of a pacified Father. The banquet is ready, and the minstrels are tuning their harps to celebrate the return from your wanderings to your Father’s heart and home, with the gladness of feasting, and with the voice of thanksgiving and of melody.

Our Fiery Affliction

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Portion

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”–1 Peter 4:12

The “fiery trial,” then, is not a strange thing which happens only to a few of the Lord’s family, but is more or less the appointed lot of all. Do we not hear the Lord saying to his Zion, “I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction?” All then who are chosen, must pass through the furnace of affliction, and all know experimentally the fiery trial, for by it they are made partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

But this is indispensable in order to be partakers of his glory. “If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Thus they suffer with him, “that when his glory shall be revealed, they may be glad also with exceeding joy.” And this suffering with and for Christ in the furnace of affliction salts the soul, preserves it from corruption, communicates health, gives it savor and flavor, is a token of interest in the everlasting covenant, and is a seal of friendship and peace with God.

Two Powerful Paragraphs

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Devotional

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
Genesis 1:4

Light might well be good since it sprang from that fiat of goodness, “Let there be light.” We who enjoy it should be more grateful for it than we are, and see more of God in it and by it. Light physical is said by Solomon to be sweet, but gospel light is infinitely more precious, for it reveals eternal things, and ministers to our immortal natures. When the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual light, and opens our eyes to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we behold sin in its true colours, and ourselves in our real position; we see the Most Holy God as he reveals himself, the plan of mercy as he propounds it, and the world to come as the Word describes it. Spiritual light has many beams and prismatic colours, but whether they be knowledge, joy, holiness, or life, all are divinely good. If the light received be thus good, what must the essential light be, and how glorious must be the place where he reveals himself. O Lord, since light is so good, give us more of it, and more of thyself, the true light.

No sooner is there a good thing in the world, than a division is necessary. Light and darkness have no communion; God has divided them, let us not confound them. Sons of light must not have fellowship with deeds, doctrines, or deceits of darkness. The children of the day must be sober, honest, and bold in their Lord’s work, leaving the works of darkness to those who shall dwell in it forever. Our Churches should by discipline divide the light from the darkness, and we should by our distinct separation from the world do the same. In judgment, in action, in hearing, in teaching, in association, we must discern between the precious and the vile, and maintain the great distinction which the Lord made upon the world’s first day. O Lord Jesus, be thou our light throughout the whole of this day, for thy light is the light of men.

From J. C. Philpot’s Daily Portions

December 24

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes.”

Psalm 119:71

We may have everything naturally that the carnal heart desires, and only be hardened thereby into worldliness and ungodliness. But to be brought down in body and soul, to be weaned and separated from an ungodly world by affliction sanctified and made spiritually profitable–to be brought to feel our need of Christ, and that without a saving interest in his precious blood our soul must be forever lost–how much better it is really and truly, to be laid on a bed of affliction, with a hope in God’s mercy, than to be left to our own carnality and thoughtlessness.

Affliction of any kind is very hard to bear, and especially so when we begin to murmur and fret under the weight of the cross; but when the Lord afflicts it is in good earnest; he means to make us feel. Strong measures are required to bring us down; and affliction would not be affliction, unless it were full of grief and sorrow. But when affliction makes us seek the Lord with a deep feeling in the soul that none but himself can save or bless, and we are enabled to look up unto him, with sincerity and earnestness, that he would manifest his love and mercy to our heart, he will appear sooner or later.

The Lord, who searches the heart, knows all the real desire of the soul, and can and does listen to a sigh, a desire, a breath of supplication within. He knows our state, both of body and soul, and is not a hard taskmaster to require what we cannot give, or lay upon us more than we can bear. But very often he delays to appear, that he may teach us thereby we have no claim upon him, and that anything granted is of his pure compassion and grace.

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Portion

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

Grace lays us under the greatest of all obligations to its free and bountiful Giver, and especially to render a believing obedience to his revealed will and word. It is his free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace alone which makes and manifests us to be his children, and therefore it demands of us, as a feeble and most insufficient tribute of grateful praise, that we should walk worthy of the vocation with which we are called, and glorify him in our body and spirit which are his. He that has never known and felt this knows nothing of the riches of God’s grace in the manifestation of mercy and love to his soul.

Such a one knows, that do what he can, he can never do enough to show forth the praises of him who has called him out of darkness into his marvelous light, and his grief and burden ever are that, through the power of indwelling sin, he cannot do the things that he would, but is always falling short, always sinning against bleeding, dying love. To such a one, therefore, the precepts of the gospel are as dear as the promises, and he sees that they are set in the word of truth as “a lamp to his feet and a light to his path,” a guiding rule by which, if he could but direct his steps, he would glorify God, walk in peace and love with his people, preserve a good conscience, and adorn the doctrine which he professes in all things. Obedience, therefore, to him is a sweet word, and is viewed by him as a precious portion of that free and everlasting gospel which, in restoring fallen man to God’s favor, restores him also to an obedience acceptable in his sight.

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“So foolish was I, and ignorant; I was as a beast before thee.”
Psalm 73:22

Remember this is the confession of the man after God’s own heart; and in telling us his inner life, he writes, “So foolish was I, and ignorant.” The word “foolish,” here, means more than it signifies in ordinary language.

David, in a former verse of the Psalm, writes, “I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked,” which shows that the folly he intended had sin in it. He puts himself down as being thus “foolish,” and adds a word which is to give intensity to it; “so foolish was I.”

How foolish he could not tell. It was a sinful folly, a folly which was not to be excused by frailty, but to be condemned because of its perverseness and wilful ignorance, for he had been envious of the present prosperity of the ungodly, forgetful of the dreadful end awaiting all such.

And are we better than David that we should call ourselves wise! Do we profess that we have attained perfection, or to have been so chastened that the rod has taken all our wilfulness out of us?

Ah, this were pride indeed! If David was foolish, how foolish should we be in our own esteem if we could but see ourselves!

Look back, believer: think of your doubting God when he has been so faithful to you–think of your foolish outcry of “Not so, my Father,” when he crossed his hands in affliction to give you the larger blessing; think of the many times when you have read his providences in the dark, misinterpreted his dispensations, and groaned out, “All these things are against me,” when they are all working together for your good!

Think how often you have chosen sin because of its pleasure, when indeed, that pleasure was a root of bitterness to you! Surely if we know our own heart we must plead guilty to the indictment of a sinful folly; and conscious of this “foolishness,” we must make David’s consequent resolve our own–“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel.”

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge, etc.”
2 Peter 1:5-6

If thou wouldest enjoy the eminent grace of the full assurance of faith, under the blessed Spirit’s influence, and assistance, do what the Scripture tells thee, “Give diligence.” Take care that thy faith is of the right kind–that it is not a mere belief of doctrine, but a simple faith, depending on Christ, and on Christ alone.

Give diligent heed to thy courage. Plead with God that he would give thee the face of a lion, that thou mayest, with a consciousness of right, go on boldly. Study well the Scriptures, and get knowledge; for a knowledge of doctrine will tend very much to confirm faith. Try to understand God’s Word; let it dwell in thy heart richly.

When thou hast done this, “Add to thy knowledge temperance.” Take heed to thy body: be temperate without. Take heed to thy soul: be temperate within. Get temperance of lip, life, heart, and thought.

Add to this, by God’s Holy Spirit, patience; ask him to give thee that patience which endureth affliction, which, when it is tried, shall come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, that you may not murmur nor be depressed in your afflictions.

When that grace is won look to godliness. Godliness is something more than religion. Make God’s glory your object in life; live in his sight; dwell close to him; seek for fellowship with him; and thou hast “godliness”; and to that add brotherly love.

Have a love to all the saints: and add to that a charity, which openeth its arms to all men, and loves their souls.

When you are adorned with these jewels, and just in proportion as you practise these heavenly virtues, will you come to know by clearest evidence “your calling and election.” “Give diligence,” if you would get assurance, for lukewarmness and doubting very naturally go hand in hand.