Saturday Afternoon Book Review || The Hole in our Holiness

bookEvery Saturday afternoon, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s review is of The Hole in our Holiness (kindle version) by Kevin DeYoung.

Followers of Jesus would agree that holiness is important. We are commanded to be holy all over scripture. Yet, most do not feel very holy. When we sin, we feel guilty. We do things we wish we could stop. We don’t feel very holy.

The point of this book is that we have missed the point of holiness, not given it the attention it deserves, missed the place God has in our holiness, as well as our place in our holiness.

DeYoung said,

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 of 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.

I appreciated how he wove holiness into the sexuality of our culture and what many Christians have become “okay” with. Definitely some good food for thought in that chapter.

By far, the biggest thing that jumped out to me was the section on how all sins are not the same in God’s eyes. I’ve always heard people say, “No sin is worse than another sin in God’s eyes.” DeYoung makes the point that while that sounds nice, it isn’t true. All sin leads to death, but God specifically gives the punishment of death to some sins and not others in Scripture. There is a sense that all sins, while they all separate us from God, they are not all equal in God’s eyes.

Here are a few things that jumped out to me:

  • The hole in our holiness is that we don’t really care much about it.
  • Any gospel which says only what you must do and never announces what Christ has done is no gospel at all.
  • We must be holy, because this is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world. . . . Jesus is a complete Saviour. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, he does more—he breaks its power.
  • 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.
  • The Great Commission is about holiness. God wants the world to know Jesus, believe in Jesus, and obey Jesus. We don’t take the Great Commission seriously if we don’t help each other grow in obedience.
  • One reason God’s holy people do not pursue holiness is that they have not yet been born again by the Holy Spirit.
  • Holiness is plain hard work, and we’re often lazy. We like our sins, and dying to them is painful. Almost everything is easier than growing in godliness. So we try and fail, try and fail, and then give up. It’s easier to sign a petition protesting man’s inhumanity to man than to love your neighbor as yourself. It’s one thing to graduate from college ready to change the world. It’s another to be resolute in praying that God would change you.
  • God chose us for salvation in eternity past and sent Christ to save us in history and gave us the gift of faith by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lifetimes so that we might be holy.
  • Holiness is the goal of our redemption.
  • It’s the consistent and frequent teaching of the Bible that those whose lives are marked by habitual ungodliness will not go to heaven.
  • Faith and good works are both necessary. But one is the root and the other the fruit.
  • There’s no question holiness is one of the central themes in the Bible. The word “holy” occurs more than 600 times in the Bible, more than 700 when you include derivative words like holiness, sanctify, and sanctification.
  • You can’t make sense of the Bible without understanding that God is holy and that this holy God is intent on making a holy people to live with him forever in a holy heaven.
  • In Christ every believer has a once-for-all positional holiness, and from this new identity every Christian is commanded to grow in the ongoing-for-your-whole-life process of holiness
  • True spirituality means being transformed by the Spirit through communion with the Father and the Son. If you are interested in spirituality, your priority should be to grow in the holiness that comes from the Spirit.
  • The world most definitely insists on holiness. Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. But the world’s holiness is not found in being true to God; it’s found in being true to yourself.
  • Worldliness is whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange.
  • God’s commands are given as a means of grace so that we might grow in godliness and show that we love him.
  • When every sin is seen as the same, we are less likely to fight any sins at all.
  • Love does not equal unconditional affirmation. Love entails the relentless pursuit of what is for our good. And our good is always growth in godliness.
  • God, while not ceasing to love his children, can still be “wondrously angry” toward them. God will never hate us, but he will mercifully frighten us with his wrath so that we might “shake off our sluggishness.”
  • God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share his holiness.
  • The Bible is realistic about holiness. Don’t think that all this glorious talk about dying to sin and living to God means there is no struggle anymore or that sin will never show up in the believer’s life. The Christian life still entails obedience. It still involves a fight. But it’s a fight we will win. You have the Spirit of Christ in your corner, rubbing your shoulders, holding the bucket, putting his arm around you and saying before the next round with sin, “You’re going to knock him out, kid.” Sin may get in some good jabs. It may clean your clock once in a while. It may bring you to your knees. But if you are in Christ it will never knock you out. You are no longer a slave, but free. Sin has no dominion over you. It can’t. It won’t. A new King sits on the throne. You serve a different Master. You salute a different Lord.
  • It’s popular in our day to think our bodies belong to us: “No one can tell me what to do with my body!” In fact, in our culture nothing is more essential to our identity as human beings than the freedom to express ourselves sexually and use our bodies as we choose. But God says the body belongs to him, not to us. We are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and members of Christ (v. 15). The body is no longer for self-gratification, but for God-glorification (v. 20). We have been bought with a price and belong to Christ.
  • Until we are married we should view members of the opposite sex against the backdrop of the family relationship.
  • The Bible has no category of dating where people who aren’t married can kinda sorta start acting in some ways like they are.
  • We have to take a hard look at the things we choose to put in front of our faces. If there was a couple engaged in sexual activity on a couch in front of you, would you pull up a seat to watch? No, that would be perverse, voyeuristic. So why is it different when people record it first and then you watch? What if a good-looking guy or girl, barely dressed, came up to you on the beach and said, “Why don’t you sit on your towel right here and stare at me for awhile?” Would you do it? No, that would be creepy. Why is it acceptable, then, when the same images are blown up the size of a three-story building? If we’re honest, we often seek exposure to sexual immorality and temptations to impurity and call it “innocent” relaxation.
  • The Father’s special communion with us is love; the Son’s communion is grace; and the Spirit’s communion with us is comfort.
  • Believers need to be reminded that they will bear fruit only as they are connected to the Vine.
  • Those most eager to be holy are often most susceptible to judgmentalism and arrogance.
  • If repentance looks like a concession to sin rather than a mark of holiness it’s only because we think of repentance too lightly.
  • Repentance is the vomit of the soul.
  • If you say “I can’t forgive myself,” it’s probably a sign of worldly grief—either unbelief in God’s promises and the sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross, or regret that is merely focused on your loss of esteem and your loss of opportunities.

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