12 Point Profile of a Holy Person

J.I. Packer’s book, Rediscovering Holiness, is an extraordinary book. Holiness is a topic that is near and dear to Wesleyans (at least, it used to be… and still ought to be). It certainly was to John Wesley, and Packer “tips his hat” to both Wesley brothers throughout the 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 list 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 can think of no better list with which to measure yourself than the following excerpts from Ryle. 

I pray the following truths will bless, encourage, convict, and lead you to greater holiness in your daily life. Print this out or write these on an index card and prayerfully reflect upon each one. You don’t get extra credit for hurrying through this list. So, take your time and let the Spirit do his work as you meditate upon each one. Let the truth of it really sink in and move in and through you.

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…

Lofty standards indeed, but biblical ones all the same. How are you doing when you compare yourself to this list? I always feel the need to counsel people who read such lists that if you are squirming as you compare yourself to a list like this, let the conviction you feel do its work, but not condemnation. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). But that verse is not a “get out of jail free card” that relieves us of our pursuit of holiness.

Instead, like Pilgrim learned in Pilgrim’s Progress, the crushing experience he had as he climbed Mount Sinai was more than he could bear. He needed the Cross. He needed his enormous bag of sinful burden to roll off his back and into the empty tomb. So do we. Let Ryle’s list, and others like the Sermon on the Mount, some of the Apostle Paul’s lists, etc., encourage you to run to grace and the forgiveness and strength available to us there in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God.

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