J. C. Ryle on ‘Watchfulness Over One’s Soul’ as a Mark of Righteousness

Continuing further in Ryle’s Knots Untied, this is what the good Bishop had to say about the next mark of regeneration, which I am calling “watchfulness over one’s own soul”:

Sixthly, John says, “He that is begotten of God keeps himself”-I John 5:18.

A man born again, or regenerate, is very careful of his own soul. He endeavors not only to keep clear of sin, but also to keep clear of everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He feels that evil communications corrupt the heart, and that evil is for more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the employment of his time: his chief desire about it is to spend it profitably. He is careful about the friendships he forms: it is not enough for him that people are kind and amiable and good-natured; all this is very well; but will they do good to his soul? He is careful over his own daily habits and behavior: he tries to recollect that his own heart is deceitful, the world full of wickedness, and the devil always laboring to do him harm; and, therefore, he would sincerely be always on his guard. He desires to live like a solider in an enemy’s country, to wear his armor continually, and to be prepared for temptation. He finds by experience that his soul is ever among enemies, and he studies to be watchful, humble, and prayerful man.

I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born again?

I suppose this is what I have always heard called “guarding your heart.” Whatever it is called, it is certainly needful.

This post originally appeared at the Prydain website. It is republished here with Will Prydain’s permission.

Will Prydain lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and attends an Anglican church nearby. By conviction and training he tends to look at things from an evangelical, Reformed Anglican perspective.

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