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Sanctification is that inward spiritual work which the Lord Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Ghost, when He calls him to be a true believer.

He not only washes him from his sins in His own blood, but He also separates him from his natural love of sin and the world, puts a new principle in his heart and makes him practically godly in life.

The instrument by which the Spirit effects this work is generally the Word of God, though He sometimes uses afflictions and providential visitations ‘without the Word’ (1 Peter 3:1).

Sanctification … is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith gives to a Christian. ‘He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit’ (John 15:5).

Sanctification … is the outcome and inseparable consequence of regeneration. He that is born again and made a new creature receives a new nature and a new principle and always lives a new life.

Sanctification … is the only certain evidence of that indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is essential to salvation.

Sanctification … is the only sure mark of God’s election. … It is expressly written that they are ‘elect through sanctification’; ‘chosen to salvation through sanctification’; ‘predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son’, and ‘chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world that they should be holy’. Hence, when St Paul saw the working ‘faith’ and labouring ‘love’ and patient ‘hope’ of the Thessalonian believers, he says, ‘I know your election of God’ (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:3,4).

Sanctification … is a thing which depends greatly on a diligent use of scriptural means. When I speak of ‘means’, I have in view Bible reading, private prayer, regular attendance on public worship, regular hearing of God’s Word and regular reception of the Lord’s Supper. I lay it down as a simple matter of fact, that no one who is careless about such things must ever expect to make much progress in sanctification. I can find no record of any eminent saint who ever neglected them. They are appointed channels through which the Holy Spirit conveys fresh supplies of grace to the soul, and strengthens the work which He has begun in the inward man.

Sanctification … pleases God. This may seem wonderful, and yet it is true. The holiest actions of the holiest saint that ever lived are all more or less full of defects and imperfections. They are either wrong in their motive or defective in their performance, and in themselves are nothing better than ‘splendid sins’, deserving God’s wrath and condemnation. … however, the Bible distinctly teaches that the holy actions of a sanctified man, although imperfect, are pleasing in the sight of God. … Let this never be forgotten, for it is a very comfortable doctrine. … our Father in heaven pleased with the poor performances of His believing children. He looks at the motive, principle and intention of their actions, and not merely at their quantity and quality.

Sanctification … is absolutely necessary, in order to train and prepare us for heaven. … To be really happy in heaven, it is clear and plain that we must be somewhat trained and made ready for heaven while we are on earth. … The favourite idea of many, that dying men need nothing except absolution and forgiveness of sins to fit them for their great change, is a profound delusion.

source: J.C. Ryle “Holiness’” (Chapter 2: Sanctification)

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I have just started each night when I go to bed to read from J.C. Ryle’s classic work ‘Holiness’. Ryle argues that the first step to holiness is to rightly understand sin. I’m going to try to blog what I read.

Sin’s Definition

I say, furthermore, that ‘a sin’ … consists in doing, saying, thinking or imagining anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind and law of God.

Sin’s Extent

I am convinced that the greatest proof of the extent and power of sin is the pertinacity with which it cleaves to man, even after he is converted and has become the subject of the Holy Ghost’s operations. To use the language of the ninth Article: ‘This infection of nature doth remain – yea, even in them that are regenerate.’ So deeply planted are the roots of human corruption, that even after we are born again, renewed, washed, sanctified, justified and made living members of Christ, these roots remain alive in the bottom of our hearts and, like the leprosy in the walls of the house, we never get rid of them until the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved.

Sin, no doubt, in the believer’s heart, has no longer dominion. It is checked, controlled, mortified and crucified by the expulsive power of the new principle of grace. The life of a believer is a life of victory and not of failure.

But the very struggles which go on within his bosom, the fight that he finds it needful to fight daily, the watchful jealousy which he is obliged to exercise over his inner man, the contest between the flesh and the spirit, the inward ‘groanings’ which no one knows but he who has experienced them – all, all testify to the same great truth, all show the enormous power and vitality of sin. … Happy is that believer who understands it and, while he rejoices in Christ Jesus, has no confidence in the flesh and, while he says, ‘Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory,’ never forgets to watch and pray lest he fall into temptation!

J.C Ryle mentions a prayer from the Prayer Book that is put in the mouth of every churchman before he goes up to the communion table:

The remembrance of our misdoings is grievous unto us; the burden is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past.

source: J.C. Ryle “Holiness’” (Chapter 1: Sin)

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I do not say for a moment that holiness shuts out the presence of indwelling sin… But it is the excellence of a holy man that he is not a peace with indwelling sin, as others are. He hates it, mourns over it, and longs to be free from its company.

source: J.C. Ryle

In December of 1662, as he lay dying, Scottish Puritan David Dickson said: “

I have taken all my good deeds and all my bad deeds, and cast them through each other in a heap before the Lord, and fled from both, and betaken myself to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in him I have sweet peace!”

source: unknown

To cut off the sinner from all reliance upon himself, his merits and his powers; and throw him, naked and helpless, into the hands of the Holy Spirit to lead him to Christ in faith; should be the one great aim of the ministry.”

source: Ichabod S. Spencer

Providence has a voice, if we had an ear. Mercies should draw, afflictions drive. Now when neither fair means nor foul do us good, but we are impenitent under both; this is to wrestle against God with both hands.

source: William Gurnall

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