God commands the church to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). We are to live holy and godly lives until the coming of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:9). Yet, there have not been many sermons and/or books on holiness. The only that has come close is Jerry Bridges' classic, The Pursuit of Holiness. Then comes Kevin DeYoung's latest book, The Hole in Our Holiness, which bridges the gap of our love for the gospel and the desire to be holy.
What is the hole in our holiness? DeYoung says, that it is when Christians love gospel-centered living, but think that holy living maybe too legalistic. When we think of holy living, it usually begins with what do I need to give up. DeYoung says that holiness is being obedient to Jesus Christ. Being holy is honoring God in every aspect of our lives.
DeYoung writes, If we abide in Christ we must walk in the same way he walked (1 John 2:6). No abides in Christ keeps on sinning (3:6). Whoever does not love does not have eternal life abiding in him (3:15). Whoever keeps the commandments abides in God and God in him (3:24). If we love another, God abides in us and we abide in God (4:12, 16)...A complete disregard for holiness indicates that we do not have fellowship with Christ and are not in him.
One thing that DeYoung does share that if we fail in holiness, we can receive grace and forgiveness from Jesus. However, just because we can get forgiveness from God, it does not mean we have a license to sin as some people define grace.
I was delighted that DeYoung wrote this book. I believe this will indeed be a classic book on holiness that every Christian, new or maturing, would benefit from. I highly recommend this book.
In The Hole in Our Holiness, author Kevin DeYoung opens with a problem he has both experienced in his own life and noted in the Christian culture around us; there is a gap between our passion for the gospel and our practice of holiness. DeYoung diagnoses this discrepancy and thereby presents the reader with the direction of his book. DeYoung wants to inform the reader of the foundations of holiness as they are taught in the Bible and then encourage application in light of those truths. Pastor Kevin writes, and preaches for that matter, with thoughtful theological acumen and poignant pastoral insight and these distinguishing characteristics are conveyed in The Hole in Our Holiness, making it a very helpful book.
The Foundations of Holiness
DeYoung begins his book by sketching out some helpful foundations about holiness. He provides a theological definition of holiness as well as a Biblical account of this virtue. His discussion of what holiness is and what it is not makes for profitable distinctions. He proceeds to give a helpful defense of both the need and benefits of a healthy view of holiness.
The author finds a good balance to this sometimes burdensome topic by encouraging the reader with good reasons for pursuing holiness as well as offering the refreshing idea that godliness is both possible and very pleasing to God. Chapter Six is a transitional chapter which moves the reader from the more theoretical and theological early chapters to the remaining ones which are more practical. In this bridging section DeYoung explains what he believes holiness should look like and how it should be pursued: sanctification, or growth is holiness, is accomplished through Spirit-powered, Gospel-driven, Faith-fueled effort. And this effort begins with and is accomplished by our union with Christ.
The Fighting for Holiness
The final three chapters deliver some practically helpful thoughts on fighting the good fight of becoming Christ-like in our holiness. DeYoung deals with the pervasive and perpetually problematic sins that are sexual in nature. Without sounding Ã¢â¬Ëpreachy' or coming across as naive, this pastor of University Reformed Church in Lansing, Michigan addresses the issues surrounding sexual immorality. He is realistic but not relativistic as he works hard to show that he understands-personally-the difficulties but recognizes the Bible is clear on the issues.
The book nears conclusion with some advice on actions we can take to promote holiness through the time-tested and traditional disciplines of the Christian faith. Encouragement is presented in the last chapter with a compelling admonishment to gauge and monitor our holiness, to be quick to sincerely repent, and understand this is a process that must continue until our time on earth is up.
With conciseness and clarity, DeYoung explains and expounds what holiness is with a solid stream of Biblical evidence. His shepherding skills are evident as he applies these truths in a way that is accessible and applicable. This is an important book on the sometimes confusing concepts associated with Christian obedience or growth in holiness and is a helpful contribution to the Christian's lifelong sanctification. I recommend it.
I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review.
"The Bible could not be any clearer," DeYoung writes. "The reason for your entire salvation, the design behind your deliverance, the purpose for which God chose you in the first place is holiness." Holiness is not an option. (Heb. 12:14) "The hole in our holiness is that we don't really care much about it."
He traces how we got to this point of holiness not being cool, the old taboos. He notes that holiness is hard and we are lazy. He is careful to distinguish the holiness that is reckoned to us because of the righteousness of Christ and the holiness commanded of us so many times in the Bible.
He writes about what holiness is not, such as a moral checklist or being flawless. He clarifies what holiness is, such as a renewal of God's image in us, and a life of virtue. He notes that it is only possible for those in Christ.
DeYoung is adamant on the importance of holiness in the believer's life. "No matter what you profess, if you show disregard for Christ by giving yourself over to sin - impenitently and habitually - then heaven is not your home." And, "A complete disregard for holiness indicates that we do not have fellowship with Christ and are not in him."
Some might argue that living a holy life is not possible. DeYoung is convinced we can walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1). We can be trained to live in a way that is holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1). We must "toil," struggling with all our energy, as Christ works in us (Col. 1:2).
He adds four practices that move us in our oneness with Christ and he ends with a section on repentance.
His explanation of "in Christ" is the best I've read. And understanding that is important because, "Union with Christ fundamentally and irrevocably changes our relationship to sin." Sin no longer has dominion.
Every few years a book comes out about which I feel so strong I'll buy copies to give to others to read. This is such a book. One of the reasons God saved me is that I might be holy (Eph. 1:3-4). Like many, perhaps, I'd lost sight of that in this culture which is so unholy. This is a book I'll reread, write in, discuss, and work at living out its contents.
Are you passionate in your pursuit of holiness? If you are, this book will be great encouragement. If you're not, this book will certainly jolt you into thinking again about your life, your actions, and pleasing God.
I received an advanced reading galley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. Note that I read a galley and some of the quotes above may be changed in the final edition of the book.