Holy Help

May 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)


One comment

  1. While it is my observation that Rick Warren has
    weakened the Gospel, your comments, in my opinion,
    are good on one point, but strained at times.

    1. Jesus did say “come and see.” John 1 Read it.

    2. The illustration of the dull axe can be fairly
    applied to the need for skill in methodology
    in the Lord’s work. For instance, we don’t have
    a Sunday evening service. Rather we meet from
    9:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m (sometime longer).
    Jesus used many different methods in dealing
    personall with the lost. Meeting in homes may
    be better than in buildings at times.

    You are right on the need for prayer and preaching,
    and there is an attempt to diminish that in these
    settings. Yet again, discipleship in the sense Jesus
    taught has been greatly lacking for hundreds of years
    in America. It is my opinion that our form of preaching and service is more Roman Catholic than
    New Testament. And note that teaching is the
    command and need prmiarily in the church,not
    preaching. You quote the only time it is used,
    and when explained, it is referred to teaching (II Tim. 4:1-5).
    Preaching is primarily (kerusso) directed towards
    the lost (excluding prophecy) and teaching the
    believers (Matt. 28:19,20).

    So while I know you are drving at, it detracts
    when you strain and even accuse of not quoting the
    Lord Jesus correctly when he did. Don’ make yourself
    appear to be an idiot by loose information. I don’t
    mind sarcasm, but maybe you have been listening to
    Bill O’Reilly to much?! And by the way, did
    Jesus use sarcasm an satire as His method for
    refuting error?

    Dan Stanley, pastor
    Eau Claire , Wi.

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