You are a Silent Sermon

We must be holy, because this is the most likely way to do good to others.

We cannot live to ourselves only, in this world. Our lives will always be doing either good or harm, to those who see them. They are a silent sermon which all can read. It is sad indeed when they are a sermon for the devil’s cause — and not for God’s.

I believe that far more is done for Christ’s kingdom by the holy living of believers, than we are at all aware of. There is a reality about such living, which makes men feel, and obliges them to think. It carries a weight and influence with it which nothing else can give. It makes religion beautiful, and draws men to consider it, like a lighthouse seen afar off. The day of judgment will prove that many besides husbands have been won “without the Word” by a holy life (1 Peter 3:1). You may talk to people about the doctrines of the gospel — and few will listen, and still fewer understand. But your life is an argument that none can escape! There is a meaning about holiness, which not even the most unlearned can help understanding. They may not understand justification — but they can understand love.

I believe there is far more harm done by unholy and inconsistent professors, than we are at all aware of. Such men are among Satan’s best allies. They pull down by their lives — what ministers build with their lips. They cause the chariot wheels of the gospel to drive heavily. They supply the children of this world with a never-ending excuse for remaining as they are. “I cannot see the use of so much religion,” said an impious tradesman not long ago; “I observe that some of my customers are always talking about the gospel and faith and election and the blessed promises and so forth — and yet these very people think nothing of cheating me of pence and halfpence when they have an opportunity. Now, if religious people can do such things, I do not see what good there is in religion.”

I grieve to be obliged to write such things — but I fear that Christ’s name is too often blasphemed because of the lives of Christians. Let us take heed lest the blood of souls should be required at our hands. From murder of souls by inconsistency and loose walking, good Lord, deliver us! Oh, for the sake of others, if for no other reason, let us strive to be holy!

J.C. Ryle Holiness pg 53-54

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