Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Splendid Sins

As I blog through J. C. Ryle's book Holiness I am re-astounded at the quality of his writing; every page seems full of valuable content. Choosing quotes and excerpts to blog feels like choosing Wayne Gretzky's best goals. How does one decide? Nevertheless, we'll carry on. This passage jumped out at me because of the reference to 'splendid sins'. It seems an adequate phrase to describe the best works of humanity. It reminded me John Piper spoke of sinning in the very act of repenting of sin. This might lead some to see futility in the Christian walk. However, do not lose sight of another phrase in this excerpt that reminds us that sinful though our action may be, 'yet it pleases God.' Consider,
Sanctification, again, is a thing which cannot justify a man, and yet it pleases God. This may seem wonderful, and yet it is true. The holiest actions of the holiest saint that ever lived are all more or less full of defects and imperfections. They are either wrong in their motive or defective in their performance, and in themselves are nothing better than “splendid sins,” deserving God’s wrath and condemnation. To suppose that such actions can stand the severity of God’s judgment, atone for sin, and merit heaven, is simply absurd. ... The only righteousness in which we can appear before God is the righteousness of another - even the perfect righteousness of our Substitute and Representative, Jesus Christ the Lord.

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