I’m embarrassed and ashamed to say that after staring at it on my bookshelf for over 15 years, I have finally picked up J.I. Packer’s book, Rediscovering Holiness, and started reading it. It is extraordinary and I am kicking myself for waiting so long. (I’m also groaning over the fact that there’s a revised and updated version available. However, I’m going to resist the temptation and stick with my older copy. Ugh.)
Holiness is a topic that is near and dear to United Methodists (at least, it used to be). It certainly was to John Wesley and Packer gives several tips of his hat to both Wesley brothers. I’m looking forward to reading the whole book.
Of particular interest in the first chapter was Packer’s distillation of J.C. Ryle’s “12 Point Profile” of what a holy person looks like. It’s fantastic! I thought I would share bits and pieces of his points with you below. The Apostle Paul encourages us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to see if we are “in the faith” (i.e., liberally administer spiritual assessments to yourself to see how you’re doing in your walk with Christ). I can think of no better list to measure yourself by then the following excerpts from Ryle. Before I do, however, let me quote Packer: “Being Victorian, [Ryle] said “man,” but he meant woman too.”
I pray the following truths will bless, encourage, convict, and lead you to greater holiness in your life.
Grace and Truth,
1.) Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find his mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what he hates, loving what he loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of his Word…
2.) A holy man will endeavor to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have… a hearty desire to do [God’s] will, a greater fear of displeasing him than of displeasing the world…
3.) A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live the life of faith in him, and draw from him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labor to have the mind that was in him, and to be conformed to his image (Romans 8:29).
4.) A holy man will follow after meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue.
5.) A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labour to mortify the desires of his body, to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts, to curb his passions, to restrain his carnal inclinations, lest at any time they break loose…
6.) A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness.
7.) A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence toward others…
8.) A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it.
9.) A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment… I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him…
10.) A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself. He will see more evil in his own heart than in any other in the world…
11.) A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life… Holy persons should aim at doing everything well, and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can they can help it… They should strive to be good husbands and good wives, good parents and good children, good masters and good servants, good neighbours, good friends, good subjects, good in private and good in public, good in the place of business and good by their firesides.
12.) Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness. He will endeavour to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand… He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of his people – these things will be the holy man’s chief enjoyments. He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God…