I was sitting in church on Sunday and had a great idea! Our memory verses this year are centered on the attributes of God, starting with holiness. So why not encourage my peeps with a little series coinciding with the memory topic of the month? This month is on holiness. Click out right now if you are not in the mood to be convicted. If you’re still with me, get ready for some serious spiritual whip lash!
Pastor Jim suggested several books (see bottom of post) and as a pastoral family, we OF COURSE have all of those stashed somewhere. So yesterday evening I dove into the storage closet, and I was able to find one of the books he mentioned under piles of baby and toddler clothes. I ended up reading a book that wasn’t on the list because it was on the top of my bookshelf with a flashing red spine that read Holiness inclosed with a chapter titled “Holiness” by J.C. Ryle.
Why oh why did I crack open that book? You know, before I got married and certainly before three sweet little babes entered my world, I thought I was doing
pretty good in the personal holiness category. (See my problem already?) I read it when I was pregnant with our first born man-child six years ago. Loved it. Named him after it (–the author, Ryle, preacher of righteousness, not Holiness.) Just after re-reading half a chapter I got rocked!!
Our memory verse, “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” Ex. 15:11 is on the holiness of God Himself, but I want to chat about personal holiness. I think we all know and agree that God is holy. I certainly do. My problem is the gap between knowing and living. J.C. Ryle bridged that gap for me, and I discovered the ways I’ve fallen short were pretty obvious. Here’s how I got schooled by his descriptions of personal holiness -“the sort of person God calls holy.”
1. Holiness is the habit of being one mind with God. It’s agreeing with His judgment of things-loving what He loves and hating what He hates. It’s measuring and valuing everything in life by His Word, His standard, not what the greatest Christian minds of today think, not what my friends at church think, not even what my pastor thinks -it’s what God in His Word has said. Sometimes it’s just easier to read a blog by a theologian we trust or listen to a podcast by a reputable author or pastor instead of sitting down and reading and meditating on how to apply Scripture for myself. Uhhh guilty!
Ryle said, “He who mostly agrees with God is the most holy.” In today’s society, holiness points don’t get you popularity points that’s for sure! Not only that, but I find there are times, maybe lots of times, that I know what God thinks and wants, but that’s not what I want. Being one with God means chucking what you want, when it doesn’t measure up, and gaining so much more by joining Him.
2. A holy person “endeavors to shun every known sin and keep every known commandant.” Ouch…every known sin? Every single one of them- really? Every single commandment-just trying to keep the original 10 does me in. Again, guilty!
3. Holiness is striving to be like the Lord Jesus. Thank you for that word striving, Ryle. I don’t know why, but I always forget that holiness is a struggle. If it’s getting hard, you are probably getting holy. Sin makes life difficult-my sin mostly, but occasionally other people’s too. But if it’s not bothering you, then maybe you aren’t a believer. My MO tends to be, “That’s uncomfortable, let’s get outta here!” Hence, lack of personal holiness in certain areas of life. Frankly, there are times when I don’t
long, yearn, desire, want to be like Jesus and forgive, or give up -thus the word striving.
4. The holy man pursues meekness, long-suffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, and government of his tongue. “He will bear much, forbear much, overlook much, and be slow to talk of standing on his rights.” Meekness is “
5. Holiness involves following after temperance and self-denial. “He will labor to mortify (kill) the desires of his body, to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts, to curb his passions, to restrain his carnal inclinations, lest at anytime they break loose.” Funny, today we are encouraged to pursue what makes us happy. Do what’s best for you! If you don’t love yourself, nobody will. Ironically, the Scripture tells us we already do that. In fact we need to stop doing it! How many times have my passions, affections, desires busted loose? So many. Sometimes they are good, right, godly desires-but elevated over their rightful place.
6. Holy people strive after spiritual-mindedness. “He will endeavor to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand.” Ryle has a LOT more to say on this topic, but I’m going to stop with this one lest you are overcome and never visit me again.
Doesn’t Ryle know you aren’t to use absolute language in communication? Words like, “always,” and “entirely,” are untruthful and really, really bad for your “self-esteem”. But if you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s the point! If after reading just these 6 you don’t feel it yet, feel it now: I am a failure, I NEED a savior-every moment, every day. THANK YOU JESUS! How much sweeter is saving grace when you’ve ingested the bitterness of sin? How much brighter is the light of Christ when you’ve delved into the darkness of your own heart? May His sweet grace and bright light keep you moving forward, moving upward!
Resources on the attributes of God:
“Knowing God” by J.I. Packard
“Attributes of God” by A.W. Pink
“Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer
“The Existence and Attributes” of God by Stephen Charnock
Please Share: What books on God are your favorite? What spurs you on to holiness?