There is a lot of talk these days about grace in the gospel. This is good news. It is good because our world, dare I say our churches, have strayed from the glorious nature of grace in the gospel message. But one potential danger with the volume of this conversation is that the pursuit of personal holiness has been put on the back burner of Christians lives. That is what Kevin DeYoung is calling The Hole in Our Holiness. In this, his most recent book, DeYoung calls for Christians to take very seriously their pursuit of Christ; their pursuit of holiness.
I really appreciated his genuine call that we take holiness seriously. He does a great job of answering the objections that are often made in this holiness debate: it is not simply rule keeping (33), it is not imitating a former generation (34), it is not general spirituality (35), it is not finding your true self (36), and it is not the way of the world (37). One of the highlights of the book was when he took the concept of holiness and applied it to the body. He says,
"You can think of holiness, to employ a metaphor, as the sanctification of your body. The mind is filled with the knowledge of God and fixed on what is good. The eyes turn away from sensuality and shudder at the sight of evil. The mouth tells the truth and refuses to gossip, slander, or speak what is coarse or obscene. The spirit is earnest, steadfast, and gentle. The heart is full of joy instead of hopelessness, patience instead of irritability, kindness instead of anger, humility instead of pride, and thankfulness instead of envy. The sexual organs are pure, being reserved for the privacy of marriage between one man and one woman. The feet move toward the lowly and way from senseless conflict, divisions, and wild parties. The hands are quick to help those in need and ready to fold in prayer. This is the anatomy of holiness" (41).
Another part of the book that was very helpful was his distinction between the uses of the law. Over and over he shows how that it is both true that the law leads us to the gospel, but also the gospel leads us back to the law. It does not move us begrudgingly to obey a list of rules, but it graciously moves us to obey the instructions that flow from a gracious God.
I would gladly recommend this book to every Christian I know. The chapter he writes on union with Christ is very helpful and practical. It is probably worth the cost of the book itself. He says,
"Those in Christ should make it their aim to grow in fellowship with Christ. We must always remember that in seeking after holiness we are not so much seeking after a thing as we are seeking a person. The blessings of the gospel--election, justification, sanctification, glorification, and all the rest--have been deposited in no other treasury but Christ" (123).
In the end, he summarizes the pursuit of holiness with these profitable words.
"Holiness is the sum of a million little things--the avoidance of little evils and little foibles, the setting aside of little bits of worldliness and little acts of compromise, the putting to death the little inconsistencies and little indiscretions, the attention to little duties and little dealings, the hard work of little self-denials and little self-restraints, the cultivation of little benevolences and little forbearances. Are you trustworthy? Are you kind? Are you patient? Are you joyful? Do you love? These qualities, worked out in all the little things of life, determine whether you are blight or blessing to everyone around you, whether you are an ugly spiritual eyesore or growing up into a good-looking Christian" (145).
The thing about this book. It will never go out of style, because nobody is every going to be perfectly holy in this life before death.
I received a free copy of The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung by Crossway Publishers for review.