This is one of the best books I have read in quite a while. It was both theologically rich and practically relevant at the same time. With the plethora of books out now concerning the gospel (J. D. Greear’s Gospel, Matt Chandler’s Explicit Gospel, Tullian Tchividjian’s Jesus+Nothing=Everything), I believe Kevin DeYoung’s The Hole In Our Holiness could easily function as the sequel to each of these books. While they emphasize the truth and necessity of a right understanding of the gospel message (which is desperately needed) they often miss the mark of a calling people to radical holiness.
DeYoung emphasizes that the gospel should not only bring us from death to life but also transform every aspect of our lives to make us more like Jesus Christ. He quoted A. W. Tozer, who said, “Plain horse sense ought to tells us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in the life.”
The book has ten chapters, which explore every “nook and cranny” of a biblical understanding of holiness. DeYoung is transparent and witty throughout the book and I appreciate the fact that he emphasized that holiness is hard work. Many of the recent books on the gospel fail to emphasize the fact that believers are called to pursue holiness. DeYoung wrote, “There is a gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness. This must change. It’s not pietism, legalism, or fundamentalism to take holiness seriously. It’s the way of all those who have been called to a holy calling by a holy God.”
I believe the greatest benefit of this book is the fact that DeYoung did not offer a “magic bullet” list that bespeaks of holiness. Often, the tendency when discussing holiness is to have a list of do’s and don’ts: “Here is what you need to do to be holy” and “Here is what you need to not do to be holy. “ Even though he does not offer a list, he does, however, offer a helpful metaphor with which to understand holiness:
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 away from senseless conflict, divisions, and wile parties. The hands are quick to help those in need and ready to fold in prayer. This is the anatomy of holiness.
Hopefully you have a good idea now of what The Hole In Our Holiness is all about and burning desire to pick up the book and be challenged as I was!
“Too many sermons are basically self-help seminars on becoming a better you. That’s moralism, and it’s not helpful. Any gospel which says only what you must do and never announces what Christ has done is no gospel at all.”
“My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ has saved us from, we are giving little thought and making little effort concerning all that Christ has saved us to. Shouldn’t those most passionate about the gospel and God’s glory also be the most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness?”
“Almost everything is easier than growing in godliness.”
“Every generation has both its insights and its blind spots. It takes wisdom to learn from the good and avoid the bad.”
“Righteousness is the goal of Christian discipleship.”
“The world provides no cheerleaders on the pathway to godliness.”
“It is the consistent witness of the New Testament that growth in godliness requires exertion on the part of the Christian.”
“Sanctification is not by surrender, but by divinely enabled toil and effort.”