Holiness: The Heart God Purifies
Several years ago, my daughter Karina—whose judgment I deeply respect—read Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s Lies Women Believe and recommended it to me as a great book. Since then I’ve come to know Nancy as a precious sister. When I’ve read her books, and spent time with her doing her radio program or talking on the phone, I’ve been drawn to Jesus.
Readers can rest assured that Holiness: The Heart God Purifies comes out of a life that has firsthand experience with the subject matter. The holiness I’ve seen in Nancy doesn’t scream “Look at me—I want you to be impressed with my holiness.” It’s not the check-off-the-boxes legalism perfected by the Pharisees and paraded by a thousand Christian groups since. It flows from a heart humbly submitted to Christ’s lordship. Nancy’s holiness is saturated with grace.
“Be holy for I am holy.” God is the reason we should be holy. But he’s also the empowerment for our holiness. Many of us are convinced we should be more holy, but we’ve gone about it wrong. To be holy in our strength, and for our glory, is to be distinctly unholy. To be holy in Christ’s strength and for his glory...that’s our calling, and our joy.
Like Jesus, this book is full of grace and truth—challenging yet winsome, convicting yet inviting. True holiness isn’t cold and deadening—it’s warm and inviting. It’s irresistible. Those who think otherwise have never seen it, but only its caricatures. In this book Nancy strips “holiness” of its baggage, so we see it as it is. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s something beautiful.
Yes, there is the carry-your-cross demand. But there’s also Christ’s assurance, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest...For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
Holiness is the only path to happiness. Every time I’ve been unholy it has made me unhappy. Every time I’ve been holy it has made me happy. Holiness sometimes hurts in the short run, but an hour or day or month or year or lifetime from now, holiness always brings happiness. Jesus promised it would: “Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Nancy says, “No amount of striving or self-effort can make us holy. Only Christ can do that.” Gladly, I want to shout, “That’s true!”
She says, “Somehow, the evangelical world has managed to redefine sin; we have come to view it as normal acceptable behavior—something perhaps to be tamed or controlled, but not to be eradicated and put to death. We have sunk to such lows that we can not only sin thoughtlessly, but astonishingly, we can even laugh at sin and be entertained by it.”
Sadly, this time, I say, “That’s true.”
Each day the God in whose presence the seraphim cry “Holy, Holy, Holy,” examines every secret corner of our lives. He’s the Audience of One. What really matters is whether he is pleased with our lives.
May we humbly acknowledge that when it comes to holiness—with all its sacrifices and rewards and pleasures—apart from Christ we can do nothing. But by his grace and empowerment, we really can live so that we may one day hear him say those amazing, thrilling words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
The moment we hear those words, from the mouth of our Lion and Lamb, we’ll know that in comparison, nothing else matters.