“Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” — 1 John 5:5

I set these words before you. I ask you to lay them to heart. Resolve, by the grace of God, to be an overcoming Christian.

I fear much for many professing Christians. I see no sign of fighting in them, much less of victory. They never strike one stroke on the side of Christ. They are at peace with His enemies. They have no quarrel with sin. I warn you, this is not Christianity. This is not the way to Heaven.

I often fear much for those who hear the gospel regularly. I fear, lest you become so familiar with the sound of its doctrines, that insensibly you become dead to its power. I fear, lest your religion should sink down into a little vague talk about your own weakness and corruption, and a few sentimental expressions about Christ — while real practical fighting on Christ’s side is altogether neglected. Oh, beware of this state of mind. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” No victory — no crown! Fight and overcome! (James 1:22).

Young men and women, and specially those who have been brought up in religious families, I fear much for you. I fear lest you get a habit of giving way to every temptation. I fear lest you become afraid of saying, “No!” to the world and the devil and, when sinners entice you, think it least trouble to consent. Beware, I do beseech you, of giving way. Every concession will make you weaker. Go into the world resolved to fight Christ’s battle, and fight your way on!

Believers in the Lord Jesus, of every church and rank in life, I feel much for you. I know your course is hard. I know it is a sore battle you have to fight. I know you are often tempted to say, “It is of no use,” and to lay down your arms altogether.

Cheer up, dear brothers and sisters. Take comfort, I entreat you. Look at the bright side of your position. Be encouraged to fight on. The time is short. The Lord is at hand. The night is far spent. Millions as weak as you, have fought the same fight. Not one of all those millions has been finally led captive by Satan. Mighty are your enemies — but the Captain of your salvation is mightier still. His arm, His grace and His Spirit shall hold you up. Cheer up. Be not cast down.

What though you lose a battle or two? You shall not lose all. What though you faint sometimes? You shall not be quite cast down. What though you fall seven times? You shall not be destroyed. Watch against sin — and sin shall not have dominion over you. Resist the devil — and he shall flee from you. Come out boldly from the world — and the world shall be obliged to let you go. You shall find yourselves in the end more than conquerors; you shall “overcome”!

— J.C. Ryle, an excerpt from his work, “Holiness”

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