“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.
Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing Michigan. You can read his blog here.
Crossway Books, 160 pages. Publisher product page.
Please visit your local Christian bookstore to purchase this book when it is released August 31, 2012.
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.