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.

What’s Your Reputation?

He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:7)

You have probably heard the definition of character as, “who you are when no one is looking.” You could also say that character is who you are when those who know you best are looking.

In the second chapter of The Measure of a Man, Gene Getz looks at what it takes to build a good reputation. This is rather a tricky area because some folks may enjoy a good reputation superficially because they’re able to reasonably fake it before people they don’t know well and with whom they associate only on an occasional basis. But living a life that builds a good reputation is hard to fake on a regular basis with those who know you best… such as the members of your family.

Let me hasten to add that the expectation here is not perfection. As one person I recently read put it, the idea here is direction, not perfection. The question is: Are you moving in a Christlike direction in your life? Is that your intention?

In our Scripture, Paul recommends to Timothy that the kind of person he should be looking for to exercise leadership in the church ought to have a good reputation. Christians are charged with hypocrisy enough as it is. And even if the charge isn’t always accurate, the mere perception can derail a life or a ministry. Worse still, we don’t want to misrepresent our Lord before a watching world.

Getz suggests that Timothy was such a person… a man with a good reputation. He highlights these three  indicators…

1. People were saying positive things about Timothy.
2. More than one person was saying these positive things about Timothy.
3. People in more than one location were saying these positive things about Timothy.

It seems wherever Timothy was and whomever he was with, Timothy was a godly man living above reproach. Thus, he enjoyed a good reputation.

Ask Someone

Getz suggests that if you really want to know your reputation (as it relates to your genuine character) ask someone who knows you best. This might sting a little, but it’s a good way to get an honest and accurate perception of who you are… and it will go a long way in helping you become the godly person you want to become.

Ask Yourself

Just as important, we occasionally need to conduct a personal assessment of who we are and what we’re about. Getz suggests asking yourself the following questions (these are great questions, by the way)

1. Do more and more people select me as a person to share their lives with?

2. Do people trust me with confidential information?

3. Do my relationships with people grow deeper and more significant the longer they know me and the closer they get to me? Or do my friendships grow strained and shallow as people learn what I am really like?

4. Does my circle of friends grow continually wider and larger? Do an increasing number of people trust me?

5. Do people recommend me for significant or difficult tasks without fear of my letting them down?

The point in all of this is not to build a reputation by duplicity and manipulation. To be sure, there are plenty of people doing that. Instead, our goal should be that as we grow in godliness, the authenticity of our increasingly Christlike character will be made evident to all. And that’s how we can represent our Lord well in this world.

Ultimately, those of us who are in Christ are seeking to advance the glory of our Lord’s reputation, and not our own. But we can’t avoid the connection that our reputation will be linked to his, so let us live lives above reproach and for his praise and glory.

Godly Manhood: The Real Counterculture

A Definition

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines counterculture as…

a culture with values and mores that run counter to those of established society

I was taught that you shouldn’t define a word by using the word you’re attempting to define in the definition… but what do I know? Yet there you have it: A counterculture is a culture with values and mores, (customs) that run counter to those of established society.

If that’s our working definition, then I have a question: Can you think of any group or culture more “countercultural” than men pursuing godliness? This is not a group or category of people that gets good press in today’s world.

Stepping Up

About ten years ago, our men’s ministry used a fantastic curriculum entitled, Stepping Up to Courageous Manhood. It’s a 10-week study that seeks to answer the question of what it means to be a godly man.

One of the things that seemed to connect with the men, continually throughout the ten weeks, was just how counter to our popular culture, godly or biblical manhood really is. From the basic values we hold dear, to how we seek to love and serve our families, to the ways in which we desire to care for our communities, it became clearer and clearer throughout the course of the study who the real counterculture actually was… and is.

Within the wider culture there are many subcultures, of which godly manhood is only one. I’m sure there must be a good number of these subcultures that are also countercultural. But certainly, men pursuing authentic godliness must be ranked among them. And the reason is, this godliness runs counter to the “established society.” It operates according to a different standard. And men who pursue this godliness, this view of manhood, are slandered from top to bottom. The hermeneutic of suspicion is through the roof. There must be some ulterior motive why men would champion such a worldview. It must be a power-play… and on and on it goes.

Its unpopular and unwelcomed status as a life worth pursuing makes the journey that much more difficult to travel. Who needs that headache? It will just be easier to live as an undercover Christian, with personal faith convictions hidden from the rest of the world. Yet that’s not an option for men (or women) who follow Christ. In fact, Jesus told his followers they should expect such a response from the world (John 15:18-20).

If you want to join a real counterculture, then give yourself to Christ, follow him, worship him with others, get connected with men who study his word and pray together, who watch over one another in love, and serve others in need and distress. These characteristics have distinguished God’s people for two thousand years and will continue to do so. And know in advance that such a way of living, which seems like such a blessing for the common good, will not always be received as such. And that’s ok.

Going along with the world, like drifting with the current, is easy. The problem is, you won’t like where you end up and you’ll have little say in the matter. Therefore, let me encourage you to get connected with a group of Christian men at a church near you, and join the real counterculture today. The world needs you… and so does your family, church, workplace, and community (Matthew 5:13-16).