“Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14
The text which heads this page opens up a subject of deep importance. That
subject is practical holiness. It suggests a question which demands the
attention of all professing Christians: Are we holy? Shall we see the Lord?
That question can never be out of season. The wise man tells us, “There is . . .
a time to weep â and a time to laugh; a time to keep silence â and a time to
speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:4, 7); but there is no time, no, not a day, in which a
man ought not to be holy. Are we holy?
That question concerns all ranks and conditions of men. Some are rich â and
some are poor, some learned â and some unlearned, some masters â and some
servants; but there is no rank or condition in life in which a man ought not
to be holy. Are we holy?
I ask to be heard today about this question. How does the account stand
between our souls and God? In this hurrying, bustling world, let us stand
still for a few minutes and consider the matter of holiness. I believe I might
have chosen a subject more popular and pleasant. I am sure I might have found
one more easy to handle. But I feel deeply I could not have chosen one more
seasonable and more profitable to our souls. It is a solemn thing to hear the
Word of God saying, “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews
I will endeavor, by God’s help, to examine what true holiness is and the
reason why it is so needful. In conclusion, I will try to point out the only
way in which holiness can be attained. Having considered the doctrinal side,
let us now turn to the plain and practical application.
1. The NATURE of true practical holiness.
First then, let me try to show what true practical holiness is â what sort of
people are those whom God calls holy?
A man may go great lengths in religion â and yet never reach true holiness.
It is not knowledge â Balaam had that.
It is not great profession â Judas Iscariot had that.
It is not doing many things â Herod had that.
It is not zeal for certain matters in religion â Jehu had that.
It is not morality and outward respectability of conduct â the rich young
ruler had that.
It is not taking pleasure in hearing preachers â the Jews in Ezekiel’s time
It is not keeping company with godly people â Joab and Gehazi and Demas had
Yet none of these were holy people! These things alone, are not holiness. A
man may have any one of them â and yet never see the Lord.
What then is true practical holiness? It is a hard question to answer. I do
not mean that there is any lack of Scriptural matter on the subject. But I
fear lest I should give a defective view of holiness, and not say all that
ought to be said â or lest I should say things about it that ought not to be
said, and so do harm. Let me, however, try to draw a picture of Biblical
holiness, that we may see it clearly before the eyes of our minds. Only let
it never be forgotten, when I have said all, that my account is but a poor
imperfect outline at the best.
– J.C. Ryle, Holiness