Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots - J C Ryle (1816-1900)


John Ryle had his beginnings at Oxford, where he was an athlete and first class student of the Greats. He was headed for a career in politics, but then was called to the ministry. He became the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool and a well read Christian writer. Ryle's most famous book is Holiness which is considered an inspiration for good Christian living. This work is a study of holiness, or Christian perfection.

"The twenty papers contained in this volume are a humble contribution to a cause which is exciting much interest in the present day - I mean the cause of scriptural holiness. It is a cause which everyone who loves Christ, and desires to advance His kingdom in the world, should endeavor to help forward. Everyone can do something and I wish to add my mite. The reader will find little that is directly controversial in these papers. I have carefully abstained from naming modern teachers and modern books...If in anything I am still in error, I hope I shall be shown it before I leave the world. We all see in part, and have a treasure in earthen vessels. I trust I am willing to learn." - J.C Ryle (1816 - 1900)

These are the opening remarks of J.C Ryle, who lived between 1816-1900, in his introduction of his book 'Holiness'. The book is a volume considered to be one of, if not the best book, on the Christian life that has EVER been written.

John Charles Ryle (1816-1900)
John Charles Ryle (1816-1900)
It pierces one's heart today at the total and absolute lack of holiness which predominates our society and is blatantly seen all around us in everything today's modern man seeks to concern himself with: from music and movies to schools and business, right up to the churches.

Worse still are those who falsely call themselves Christians simply because they attend Sunday church service.

There just seem to be so much apostasy, uncleanness of thought, and unrepentant sinfulness which clearly demonstrates the level of godlessness and hardheartedness to which many hearts have sunk and been seared with.

No wonder, for Scripture clearly says in 1Timothy 4:1-2: "NOW the [Holy] Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared as with a hot iron." - (KJV).
It is clear that millions, possibly billions, of people have completely lost any awareness of the holiness of God. Nor of His command for us to be holy, because He is holy and can make us holy (1 Peter 1:16). Do we dare to assume that He will accept us when we have chosen our will and ways over His?

Many fool themselves, to think that this is not rebellion. Just consider what Scripture says in 1Samuel 15:23: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king" - (KJV). What makes a man think he can get away with all this?

John Charles Ryle by Carlo Pellegrini, 1881
John Charles Ryle
By Carlo Pellegrini, 1881.
The answer is simple. He has lost all fear of the LORD, that ability to stand in awe of who He is, out of pride and rebellion. There is no more humility, nor any earnest desire to truly know nor please Him.


Unless we humble ourselves, and turn from our wicked ways, and seek the face of GOD, we constantly stand the risk of losing our souls for all eternity.

Besides, we will have to answer for every soul that ends up in hell, whom we were meant to have ministered to with the gospel of salvation, but did not due to our rebellion, apathy, and pride.

It is time to step up to God’s standard of Holiness, and let His truth shine through us, to give Him the glory due Him. Indeed, the Scripture did not mince words when it declared that we all are the salt and light of this bitter and dark world (Matthew 5:13-16).

We should strive for only the very best, and have the heart to be concerned over others who live in spiritual darkness. If we strive for holiness, then other problems we see in the body of Christ will start to disappear.

Though I am in no way affiliated to the book 'Holiness', I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone who has the desire and the burden to know the LORD more, to please Him better and to grow in our wonderful Christian faith.

To read the FREE online version of 'Holiness', click here. To buy the book 'Holiness' from Amazon Bookstore, click here. To see Bishop John C Ryle's collection of books, click here.

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