(J.C. Ryle, “Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots”)
“Without holiness, no one will see the Lord!” Hebrews 12:14
Most men hope to go to Heaven when they die; but few, it may be feared, take the trouble to consider whether they would enjoy Heaven if they got there.
Heaven is essentially a holy place;
its inhabitants are all holy;
its occupations are all holy.
To be really happy in Heaven, it is clear and plain that we must be somewhat trained and made ready for Heaven while we are on earth.
We must be saints before we die–if we are to be saints afterwards in glory.
We need the work of the Holy Spirit–as well as the work of Christ;
we need renewal of the heart–as well as the atoning blood;
we need to be sanctified–as well as to be justified.
What could an unsanctified man do in Heaven, if by any chance he got there?
No man can possibly be happy in a place where he is not in his element, and where all around him is not congenial to his tastes, habits and character.
When an eagle is happy in an iron cage,
when a sheep is happy in the middle of a lake,
when a fish is happy on the dry land–
then, and not until then, will I admit that the unsanctified man could be happy in Heaven!
The book of Revelation says expressly, “Nothing impure will ever enter it.” Revelation 21:27
Suppose for a moment, that you were allowed to enter Heaven without holiness.
What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you experience there?
Now perhaps, you love the company of . . .
the vain and the impious,
the worldly-minded and the profligate,
the reveler and the pleasure-seeker,
the ungodly and the profane.
There will be none such in Heaven!
Now perhaps you think the that saints of God too strict and particular and serious. You rather avoid them. You have no delight in their society. But there will be no other company in Heaven.
Now perhaps you think that praying and Scripture reading and hymn singing–are dull and melancholy and foolish; a thing to be tolerated now and then–but not enjoyed. You reckon the worship a burden and a weariness. But remember, Heaven is never-ending worship. The inhabitants thereof rest not day or night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,” and singing the praise of the Lamb. How could an unholy man find pleasure in occupation such as this?
It seems clear that Heaven would be a miserable place to an unholy man! We must be heavenly-minded and have heavenly tastes in the present life–or else we will never find ourselves in Heaven in the life to come!
“Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong;
let him who is vile continue to be vile;
let him who does right continue to do right;
and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” Revelation 22:11