True Christianity is a Fight

True Christianity is a Fight

J. C. Ryle
“The man of granite, with the heart of a child.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones described Ryle’s writings as “a distillation of true Puritan theology presented in a highly readable and modern form.”

“I am bold to say that perhaps few men in the nineteenth century did so much for God, for truth, for righteousness, among the English speaking race and in the world as Ryle.” (Richard Hobson)

Ryle’s writings on the Gospels are considered by many to be the best practical, devotional, and Christ-centered commentaries EVER written!

“True Christianity! Let us mind that word “true.” There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not genuine Christianity. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches every Sunday and call themselves Christians. They make a “profession” of faith in Christ. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are called Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die.

But you never see any “fight” about their religion! Of spiritual strife, exertion, conflict, self-denial, watching and warring–they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and that His apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is “a fight!”

The principal fight of the Christian is with . . .
the world,
the flesh, and
the devil.

These are his never-dying foes! These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. With a corrupt heart, a busy devil and an ensnaring world–he must either “fight” or be lost!

To be at peace with the world, the flesh and the devil is to be at enmity with God and in the broad way that leads to destruction! We have no choice or option.We must either fight–or be lost!

It is a fight of universal necessity. No rank or class or age can plead exemption, or escape the battle–all alike must carry arms and go to war.

All have by nature a heart full of pride, unbelief, sloth, worldliness and sin!
All are living in a world filled with snares, traps and pitfalls for the soul.
All have near them a busy, restless, malicious devil.
All, from the queen in her palace down to the pauper in the workhouse–all must fight, if they would be saved.

We may take comfort about our souls, if we know anything of an inward fight and conflict. It is the invariable companion of genuine Christian holiness.

The saddest symptom about many so-called Christians, is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week. But of the great spiritual warfare–its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests–they appear to know nothing at all.”

For the complete sermon by J.C.Ryle, go here.


  1. SDG

    Don, it is tempting to dismiss writings like this from a different age as irrelevant because they don’t have a contemporary ring to them. Why is it I still feel the rebuke from Ryle after being familiar with him for many years? When he opens up the word, there is so much that makes you feel that what is accepted as Christianity today is just not real. One of the first Christian books I bought was ‘Christian Warfare’ by Dr Lloyd Jones, and I bought it because it very much reflected the new life I has suddenly found. No doubt much of the conflict was attributable to unsanctified youthfulness, but I did lose friends for no other reason than I wanted to follow the Lord Jesus.
    The contents list of the Doctors sermons demonstrates how he too understood this priority:
    The Only Way; The Enemy; The Enemy Described; The Origin of Evil; The Wiles of the Devil; The Subtle Foe; Heresies; Cults; Counterfeits; Watchfulness; ‘Philosophy and vain Deceit’; Knowledge Puffs Up; Faith and Experience; Quenching the Spirit; Temptation and Sin; Discouragement; Worldliness.
    These were the things that absorbed the mind and attention of an 18 year old, and they still do. I refused to drift with tide then and I still do.
    Yes we are in a war, and as any soldier I feel my weakness and mortality. I feel it more as the years march on.
    The Christian Armour that Paul describes so helpfully is not given for any other reason than to meet his own, and other believers immediate and urgent need to protection in our warfare.
    At the end of his instruction to ‘put on the full armour of God’, Eph 6:10-17, Paul then urges them to ‘pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints’.
    Isn’t this ‘impotence laying half on omnipotence’?
    But Satan is very crafty. He has puffed us up into thinking we are now so sophisticated, so knowledgable, so strong, and we drift away from God under the allusion that because we are comfortable and rich and secure that we are under Gods blessing and can now live at ease and in peace in this world. I think in reality we have become blind Laodicean church members that are actually endangered by our wrong attitudes to life in His world.

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