So we have a question to answer before us: what does a pursuit of holiness look like? J.C. Ryle in his book ‘Holiness’ (1877) gives us 10 markers of true holiness. I’ll walk through them one at a time:
1) Holiness is being of one mind with God – this means we agree with God in His Word, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.
2) Holiness is to fear God – not a slavish fear but a reverent fear, understanding that fearing God is the beginning of wisdom, and that through the fear of God men depart from sin.
3) Holiness is an endeavor to shun every sin and keep every commandment – meaning in all things we aim to obey God, which of course implies the opposite – in all things we aim to never disobey God.
4) Holiness is to be humble – slow to speak, quick to listen, not rash or hasty but gentle and confidently calm, counting others as more important than ourselves.
5) Holiness is to watch our life closely – Luke 21:34, “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life…” A Christian is a person who doesn’t act on every impulse, but who weighs them carefully – rejecting some while embracing others.
6) Holiness is to be charitable – in all that we do in life Christians are to be merciful and gracious people who remember the golden rule, doing as we would have others do to us.
7) Holiness is to be pure – hating all things corrupt and impure, setting no vile thing before our eyes, the Christian seeks to flee immorality of all kinds recognizing it for what it is, sin.
8) Holiness is to be faithful – this is an awareness that in all things: work or play, public or private, at home or abroad, all of life is to be lived as to the Lord, seeking to do the best we can do in all we do.
9) Holiness is to be spiritually minded – endeavoring to place our minds entirely on things above not on things below. Really believing our treasure is in heaven and not on earth, and thus making it a pattern in life to be much in the Word and much in prayer.
10) Holiness is striving to be like Jesus – meaning not only seeking to live life as He did and draw all of our strength from Him, but pressing forward to be conformed into His image. J.C. Ryle says here, “Much time would be saved, and much sin prevented if men would more often ask themselves the question ‘What would Christ do or say if He were in my place now?’
So after hearing these ten things describing what a pursuit of holiness looks like let me ask you – are you holy?
Do you know the holiness I’ve been speaking of?
I am not asking if you attend church regularly, or if you’ve been baptized or have taken the Lord’s Supper. I am not asking you if you wear the name ‘Christian.’ I am not asking if you approve of holiness in others, or like to read books about the lives of holy people, or like to talk about holy things, or own many holy books. I am not asking you want to be holy or hope to be holy some day in the future. I am asking something more – are you holy?
Others will see the character of God in your life if your pursue holiness. You will see the character of God more clearly if you pursue holiness. More so, the world will see the character of God in our local churches if we all are individually pursuing holiness.
Think of a lighthouse here. They blow no horns and demand no applause, they just shine, and in their light others can see things for what they really are. Do you shine? By your light can others see God for who He really is?
The honest answers to these questions will tell us much about ourselves and our churches.