Ryle’s Holiness Chapter 3: Holiness (Part 1)

Post by Landon Preston

Ryle’s third chapter of Holiness takes the name of the title of his book. This chapter, like others in the book, is broken up into three segments which asses the tremendous topic of holiness. For purposes of length and my own ability to process, I will cover each segment in a different post. Today I wanted to begin with Ryle’s definition of holiness.

Holiness: the habit of being of one mind with God.

I find this definition so simple yet clear and practical. It is insightful he chose the word habit, indicating that its a work or discipline to be pursued by the believer, emphasizing responsibility. While sanctification is the work of God as Scripture indicates (Rom. 8:28-29; Phil. 1:6), it is our responsibility to pursue it (1 Cor. 9:27; 1 Tim 6:11). It is also not a mere action, but a series of repetitive actions that leads to way of living. Holiness is not an act; but a daily pursuit of living by the Christian.

Being of one mind with God: I found this extremely practical and tangible because any believer can know what the mind of God is by reading the Bible, by which God reveals his nature and character. I also like how he uses the phrase “one mind with God’ as Paul encourages the believers in Philippi to have the same mind of Christ (2:5-11). God has revealed his mind and what he desires, and believers are capable of becoming more and more familiar with God’s desires. We also know the Holy Spirit is the One Spirit of God himself, and so to try to be “of one mind with God” also indicates supreme obedience to the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to the heart of every believer. The Spirit of God who inspired the authors of the Bible to reveal God’s nature is the same Spirit who dwells within each believer today. The two will never be in conflict.

Therefore, desiring holiness according to Ryle’s definition is to habitually discipline one’s self to pursue and embody the character of God as revealed in the Scriptures and as the Holy Spirit reminds and prompts the believer. In my mind, this is a wonderful and simple definition to encourage God’s people in a broad way of their responsibilities to pursue holiness. I do believe that with a greater and more sensitive knowledge of the Scriptures and of the leading of the Holy Spirit, that a deeper love for God and holiness can be cultivated as well as a corresponding hated of sin and the world. May God lead us all into a deeper desire to have one mind with himself.


About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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