B. Christ is not only all in the justification of a true Christian, but He is also all in his sanctification.
I would not have anyone misunderstand me. I do not mean for a moment to undervalue the work of the Spirit. But this I say, that no man is ever holy till he comes to Christ and is united to Him. Till then his works are dead works, and he has no holiness at all. First you must be joined to Christ, and then you shall be holy. “Without Him–separate from Him–you can do nothing” (John 15:5). And no man can grow in holiness except he abides in Christ. Christ is the great root from which every believer must draw his strength to go forward. The Spirit is His special gift, His purchased gift for His people. A believer must not only “receive Christ Jesus the Lord,” but “walk in Him, and be rooted and built up in Him” (Col. 2:6,7.)
Would you be holy? Then Christ is the manna you must daily eat, like Israel in the wilderness of old. Would you be holy? Then Christ must be the rock from which you must daily drink the living water. Would you be holy? Then you must be ever looking unto Jesus–looking at His cross, and learning fresh motives for a closer walk with God–looking at His example, and taking Him for your pattern. Looking at Him, you would become like Him. Looking at Him, your face would shine without your knowing it. Look less at yourself and more at Christ, and you will find besetting sins dropping off and leaving you, and your eyes enlightened more and more every day (Heb. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18.)
The true secret of coming up out of the wilderness is to come up “leaning on the Beloved” (Song 8:5.) The true way to be strong is to realize our weakness and to feel that Christ must be all. The true way to grow in grace is to make use of Christ as a fountain for every minute’s necessities. We ought to employ Him as the prophet’s wife employed the oil, not only to pay our debts, but to live on also. We should strive to be able to say, “The life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (2 Kings 4:7; Gal. 2:20.)
I pity those who try to be holy without Christ! Your labour is all in vain. You are putting money in a bag with holes. You are pouring water into a sieve. You are rolling a huge round stone uphill. You are building up a wall with untempered mortar. Believe me, you are beginning at the wrong end. You must come to Christ first, and He shall give you His sanctifying Spirit. You must learn to say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13.)
Part 1 of 2
J. C. Ryle, Holiness, ch 20: p 317 (online at www.CCEL.org. Published in the U.S. by Fleming H. Revell)
John Charles Ryle [1816-1900] was an Anglican minister and bishop of Liverpool, England. His method and style of writing was scriptural and expository.
Additional biblical allusions listed by paragraph:
1 Cor. 1:30; Heb 9:14; Acts 11:17 / John 6:31,32; 1 Cor. 10:4 / 2 Cor. 12:9
Justification is the act of God whereby He graciously forgives and credits as righteous the one who places saving faith in Christ (Rom. 5:1).
Sanctification is the gracious work of God whereby a) the believer in Christ is set apart from sin and unto God at conversion (positional – Heb. 10:10; 1 Cor. 1:30); b) the believer increasingly puts off wrong thoughts, values, and actions and puts on good thoughts, values, and actions (progressive in the soul – Heb. 10:14; 1 Pet. 1:14-16).
For further detail see GNs: “Made Right to Live Right” and “The Perfected and Progressive Aspects of Sanctification” GraceNotebook.com / other goodies / clarifications