He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption. …
The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are “words and names” which convey no meaning to the mind. The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes any one a new creature in Christ, is to send light into his heart, and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with “light,” and so also does the spiritual creation. God “shines into our hearts” by the work of the Holy Ghost, and then spiritual life begins (2 Cor 4:6). Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies, and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the Church in the nineteenth century has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.
—J. C. Ryle
Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 1–2.
In true conversion the soul is changed to be of the same mind with Christ, that as he is affected, so the soul of such a one is affected; and as he loathes all ill, so upon this ground there must be a loathing of whatsoever is evil. But a carnal man is like a wolf driven from the sheep, that yet retains his wolfish nature; so these men that are driven from their sins only out of terror of conscience, they are affrighted with sin, but they do not hate it; therefore a loathing of evil is required as well as the leaving of it. If we would make it evident that our conversion is sound, we must loathe and hate sin from the heart.
The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, 7:223.
A crab tree will never yield pleasant fruit, until you change the nature of it. Take a crab tree and plant it in the best soil that you have, and water it, and dress it, and prune it as much as you can, yet this crab tree will bear nothing but crabs, sour fruit, until you come to graft it; and then your grafting of it changes the nature of the stock, and it has another principle, and so then it brings forth good fruit. … Take the best natured person in the world and plant him in the best soil, in the best ground, in church ground; plant him in the house of God, and there let him be watered by holy doctrine, and let him be cultivated every day, but still he will bring forth nothing but unsavory fruit, until he himself is changed. Though he is under all those spiritual means, yet until those means have wrought effectually in him, his actions are all unsavory.
It is only by our implantation into Jesus Christ that we become fit to do good that is acceptable to God.
It is this that makes the change. For as in nature the graft changes the stock, so in grace, the stock changes the grafted branch. As we are grafted into Christ, He changes the branch; being planted into Christ, by the power of the Spirit, we are then made like Him, and then we shall bring forth fruits of righteousness, which are to the glory of God.