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Thursday, August 2, 2012

"The Hole in Our Holiness" (Kevin DeYoung)

TITLE: The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness
AUTHOR: Kevin DeYoung
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2012, (160 pages).

This book is a clarion call to live holy live as holy people of God. DeYoung attacks the erroneous thinking in which some people think that once they are saved by faith, holiness is no longer a requirement. The "hole" that the author is talking about is essentially the manner in which people do not really care or bother about holiness. He criticizes many pulpit themes that tend to be self-help types that focus on moralism. Others focus so much on legalistic do's and don'ts that they miss the whole message of the gospel. He poses three diagnostic questions for us to ask ourselves.

  1. "Is our obedience known to all?"
  2. "Is our heaven a holy place?"
  3. "Are we great commission Christians?"
He makes a wordplay on the word "holy" by showing us the gap we have in our spiritual lives. After setting these questions out, DeYoung begins with the reason for seeking holiness in the first place. He begins by saying that holiness is the reason why God redeems us. He proves that biblically, showing us that for more than 700 times in the Bible, there are references to words regarding holiness. He then gives us a helpful understanding of what holiness is and what it is not. Chapter 4 shines the light of grace on the laws of God. DeYoung affirms the perspective that laws are given to us not to bind us but to love us. He points out 40 ways to pursue holiness in the light of law and grace. Chapter 5 maintains the pleasure of godliness with the pursuit of holiness. Not only is holiness possible, it is something disciples will take pleasure in doing. Ultimately, we live a holy life in order to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, as an act of worship to God. Chapter 6 reminds us again that holiness is not a self-driven endeavour but Spirit-empowered. The Spirit is a light to us in three ways, namely, exposing sin in us, illumining the Word, and enables us to see God's glory. Interestingly, in chapter 7, DeYoung touches on being who we are, after sharing about the tendency of some Christians to treat their faith as a DIY attempt to self-actualization. Instead of the latter, we are urged to be united in Christ, that our being comes forth from Jesus' work at the Cross. The progression is from being with Christ to becoming like Christ. Chapter 8 touches on a very important topic about sexual immorality.  Sexual sin is very serious. Guidelines are given on how to practice holiness in this area of sexuality. While union with Christ is ultimately the work of the Spirit, communion with Christ needs us to be responsive to the promptings of the Spirit. Abiding in Christ is a key requirement to maintaining holiness in God. Through prayer, the Word of Truth, fellowship with like-minded believers, and the partaking of the Lord's Supper, we can pursue communion with Christ.

Over and over, DeYoung presses in on the need for holiness for all Christians. He gives us detailed instructions on how to cleanse, and remain clean in this world wrought with sin. As our holiness become more evident, it in itself will become a witness for Christ. DeYoung reminds us that sanctification is not about where we are, but where we are going, revealing to ask that holiness is very much a work in progress, and not a done deal.

Closing Thoughts

DeYoung makes a powerful start when he makes a case for the pursuit of holiness. After seeing how he weaves in Dr J.I. Packer's notes on the Puritans, I am sold. For the most part, DeYoung not only makes his arguments clear and concise, it is very readable and applicable. I appreciate the way DeYoung interprets the law from the eyes of grace and love. It is a wholesome understanding of both the Old and the New Testaments. The simplicity of language in no way diminishes the profound truths of holiness. Each chapter touches on an important aspect of holiness, or the pursuit of it all. The Bible references and allusions are especially helpful as they remind readers that these ideas are biblical and Christ-focused. The study questions will be a helpful guide for small groups wanting to study the book in greater detail.

That said, I find the ending a little weak. The book will be stronger if there is an appropriate story  illustrations to make a home run. Nevertheless, this book should be a welcome addition to Christian communities wanting to do a series on the pursuit of holiness. Any effort to make the Christian world more aware of the need for holiness needs to be applauded.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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