It's funny reading Christian books which are a hundred plus years old for the type of problems they mention which the church faced are often the very same problem we see today. The type of problems that faced Christians are usually the exact same problems facing Christians today. The outward form may change but the heart of the problem does not. This is really no surprise, "there is nothing new under the sun" the Teacher says in Ecclesiastes and he was right - human nature doesn't change and God doesn't change. The world, the flesh and the Devil still fight the same battles with Christians.
I was reading J.C Ryle's Practical Religion, it's brilliant, as Ryle always is, and in it Ryle talks about how the biggest problem with the church is that too many Christians are Little Christians and it struck me that while over a hundred years have passed since he wrote his book then his analysis is still spot on.
Many, if not most, Christians today are Little Christians. If I am being honest then I must include myself in this category too. We are Little Christians because we have a little faith, a little hope, a little peace, a little love, a little courage, a little knowledge and a little holiness. That is not the problem though - we all start of our Christian life with little of everything. The problem, and as problems go this is huge, is that we are content with being Little Christians.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a Christian is assuming that holiness is an automatic process. It is an easy mistake to make; we know that Jesus has saved us and "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion." (Philippians 1v5) And it fits our natural laziness, our want of the Christian life to be easy, we want holiness to just happen.
Holiness never just happens. The natural route we follow, even as Christians, is decline. If holiness is not our main priority then we will swiftly find that we begin to slip back into old ways and old habits. We have to strive for holiness; we cannot sit and wait for it to find us. I speak from personal experience when I say that holiness is not a progressive linear function - it is entirely possible to become less holy in your Christian walk.
Yet, because of the work of the Lord Jesus and because we have the Holy Spirit within us then it is possible to become more holy. And it should be the aim of every Christian to become increasing holy as the years go by for as Jesus said: "Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5v48). This deals with the latter part of the title: increasing holiness.
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