J.C. Ryle on “Holiness”

“I fear it is sometimes forgotten that God has married together justification and sanctification.  They are distinct and different things, beyond question, but no one is ever found without the other.  All justified people are sanctified, and all sanctified people are justified.  What God has joined together let no man dare to put asunder. Tell me not of your justification, unless you have also some marks of sanctification.  Boast not of your Christ’s work for you, unless you can show us the Spirit’s work in you.  Think not Christ and the Spirit can ever be divided.” (Holiness, Ryle, pp.59)

Ryle’s point should be very clear here.  It is simply an explanation of two basic, but extremely controversial, implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Those that have been chosen by the Father in eternity past (Eph. 1:4) were redeemed by Christ’s blood, upon faith in the gospel.  Christ bore the wrath of God, becoming a curse for the sins of man. Those that receive Christ as their Righteous Substitute by faith have their sins atoned for and receive the righteousness of Christ. They are declared righteous and this is what is meant by justification.  Choosing or election is done by the Father and justification is accomplished through the Son. Sanctification is the process by which the believer progressively grows in Christlikeness, repenting of sin, for the rest of his/her life.  This process is accomplished by the work of the Spirit in the heart of believers, because the flesh is wholly incapable of rendering holiness. The giving of the Spirit was an Old Testament promise of the New Covenant (Ezek. 36:26-27), effected and accomplished by Christ (Lk. 22:20, Heb 9:15).  To miss the harmony of the Godhead in salvation is to miss its incomparable beauty and strength.

In fact, this harmony is what Ryle is speaking of.  If one has truly been justified because of Christ, then he will be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  There will be no disruption in the harmony of the Trinity.  The Father did not send the Son to remove the penalty by dying for a people (church) who would remain unchanged and passionately pursuing sin.  That is illogical.  Scripture clearly tells us there will be a people, holy to the Lord, in the new heavens and new earth from every tribe, tongue and nation who love Jesus, which some have endured fiercest of persecutions, even death, for His namesake.  Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murders and idolaters, and everyone WHO LOVES AND PRACTICES FALSEHOOD. (Rev 22:15)

It is abundantly clear that those who love and practice falsehood are outside the presence of Christ reflecting they were never justified or born again.  But those who have truly been justified, their lives will be a demonstration of faith and good works because what God begins, He completes. (Phil. 1:6)

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to examine themselves, to see whether or not they were in the faith. (2 Cor. 13:15)  This living Word is for us today.

Do our lives bear the marks of holiness?  Let us examine ourselves at the heart level and see whether or not we’re in the faith.

If you’re truly born again, praise God for His grace and persevere by faith which comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ – the Scriptures (Rom. 10:17) and continually give yourselves over to prayer.

Without holiness, no one shall see the Lord. (Heb:12:14)

Holiness: It’s Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots

Grace & Peace,


6 thoughts on “J.C. Ryle on “Holiness”

  1. Good evening, Mr. Robinson 🙂

    You have touched on some key points in your sharing of Ryle’s book on holiness, the most key being that sanctification and justification cannot be divorced. The life of a believer should bear fruit. Our profession should be followed by a life that demonstrates that what we say about ourselves is indeed true.

    I like how you point out the harmony of the Trinity in one’s salvation. This is a beautiful thing. The Father chooses wicked sinners who have no merit of their own, the Son dies for those that apart from the Spirit, reject Him, and the promised Spirit works out this salvation in our hearts. It is so mindblowing and humbling to think about these things! Before the foundation of the world, we were chosen by God to be justified in Christ and sanctified by His Spirit!

    The Godhead will not be at war within. As you pointed out, they are in perfect harmony and agreement. This is key to understanding the doctrine of salvation. There are those that will say we can lose our salvation. If this is true, this shows the Persons of the Trinity at war against Themselves, which will never be.

    The pursuit of holiness is not an easy one, but the Spirit wroughts new hearts that desire this and the Word instructs us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, which comes through giving ourselves over to the reading of God’s Holy Scripture. Pursuing holiness does not happen apart from the reading of the Word and prayer. And as we have discussed (:-)), the Word is what rightly informs our prayers.

    Your blog entry is so encouraging and so helpful! Thank you for sharing what you have been reading in the Ryle book. It is vitally important to understand what our salvation means, how it is worked out, and how it began.

    Jenn 🙂

  2. Good interaction with this quote from Holiness. We are translating this book in Hindi for the free distribution in India. Just done with Chapt 5

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