Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots by J. C. Ryle. It's $.99 and the best buck I've spent in a while.
I have a loosely structured reading plan that includes very recent "Christian living" books and (at the same time) less recent, or even very old writings. I have benefitted a lot from going back in time, to a less "cluttered" written landscape.
A book on holiness, written more than a century ago, brings a clarity to the purpose of holiness. We've forgotten what holiness means, much less the role that holiness should play in our lives.
In the introduction, D. M. Lloyd-Jones (Westminster Chapel) wrote
The characteristics of Bishop Ryle's method and style are obvious. He is pre-eminently and always scriptural and expository. He never starts with a theory into which he tries to fit various scriptures. He always starts with the Word and expounds it. It is exposition at its very best and highest. It is always clear and logical and invariably leads to a clear enunciation of doctrine. It is strong and virile and entirely free from the sentimentality that is often described as "devotional."
The Bishop had drunk deeply from the wells of the great classical Puritan writers of the seventeenth century. Indeed, it would be but accurate to say that his books are a distillation of true Puritan theology presented in a highly readable and modern form.
The Puritans had so much to say! If Ryle boiled it down, that's great.
And in a Christian reading landscape that is full of "fluff," the "anti-devotional" writing is a welcome dive into the deep. I read devotionals and have found depth and peace and instruction - but rarely. You cannot find depth in a five minute swim.
Ryle says that a wrong view of holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption; in order to have a correct view of holiness, you have to have a correct view of sin.
This quote is one that I need to keep around and blog about later:
Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us, and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.
Also...Don't EVER be ashamed of holiness. Not in front of the world, not in front of other Christians.
and, on spiritual warfare:
Let us remember that if we would fight successfully we must put on the whole armour of God, and never lay it aside till we die. Not a single piece of the armour can be dispensed with.
We can never forget that we need the WHOLE of the armor...
anyway...I'm going through the kindle book, looking at the highlights and they remind me of thoughts I had about the book...
If you are so inclined, click through the link and buy the book...