Holy HelpMay 23, 2008
Why do I keep on sinning as a Christian? How practically can I resist sin and temptation? What should I do when I fail? These – and similar lines of enquiry – are natural for any Christian to pursue. Thankfully there many excellent books available in relation to battling sin and pursuing holiness.
It would be wrong to look past J.C Ryle’s benchmark work “Holiness.” This work is a biblically based and practical applied explanation of what it means to live a holy life. Notwithstanding the fact that Ryle manages to dish up some ‘meaty’ theological content, the book is still eminently readable. For those unfamiliar with Bishop Ryle, JI Packer’s edition “Faithfulness and Holiness” may be helpful. This larger book combines Ryle’s Holiness (the second half) with Packer’s biography of the pastor’s life (the first half).
Two excellent modern books are also worthy of mention. First, Jerry Bridges’ “The Pursuit of Holiness” -already a contemporary classic (over a million copies sold) – is a good place to start for someone wanting to grasp basic bible teaching about sin and sanctification. It is short in length but not shallow in content.
Perhaps my favourite contemporary book on battling sin is Kris Lundgaard’s “The Enemy Within.” Lundgaard draws upon the Puritan John Owen’s masterful (but heavy) volumes “The Mortification of Sin” and “Indwelling Sin.” The content isn’t novel, but rather brings Owen’s thought alive to a new audience. You’ll find this book to be a treasure chest of practical ideas for resisting sin.
More specifically, there are some good books which deal with sexual temptation. On this topic I’d recommend Joshua Harris’ “Not Even a Hint.” For men specifically “Every Man’s Battle – Winning the War Against Sexual Temptation” by Steven Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey has helped many people.
Finally, as a general encouragement toward holiness I’d recommend “The Life of Robert Murray McCheyne” by Andrew Bonar. This is a short biographical account of the 19th century Scottish pastor from Dundee who died aged 29. The extracts from McCheyne’s diary reveal his struggles with sin as well as his intense desire for personal holiness. McCheyne famously said that “a holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” Read about this young man who was a case in point.
(I first gave these recommendations were first given in our church magazine, The Record)