Kevin DeYoung has a written a new book on an important topic, titled The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness. John Piper writes, “This book is vintage DeYoung—ruthlessly biblical.”
Holiness was once a central component of following Christ. But for many today, the Christian life is little more than a celebration of cheap grace and pseudo-liberty, with a high tolerance for sin. In this well-written and much-needed book, Kevin DeYoung thoughtfully points us to an unpopular yet strangely liberating truth—that God is holy and expects us to be holy. With no hint of legalism or drudgery, Kevin offers a balanced and engaging view of law and grace. Kevin DeYoung is one of my favorite writers, and this book demonstrates why. I repeatedly said “Yes!” as I turned these pages. I’m convinced that Christ-followers desperately need to read, discuss, and live out the timely, God-exalting message of The Hole in Our Holiness.
Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:
I see a growing number of Christians today eager to think about creative ways to engage the culture. It’s not hard to find Christians fired up about planting churches and kingdom work. You can even find lots of believers passionate about precise theology. Yes and Amen to all that. Seriously. There’s no need to tear down what is good and true just because something else good and true may be missing. Jesus commended the churches in Revelation where they were faithful and then challenged them where they were in spiritual danger. I have no interest in making anyone feel bad for being passionate about Bach, bass fishing, or Herman Bavinck. There are a hundred good things you may be called to pursue as a Christian. All I’m saying is that, according to the Bible, holiness, for every single Christian, should be right at the top of that list. We need more Christians on our campuses, in our cities, in our churches, and in our seminaries who will say with Paul, “Look carefully then how you walk” (Eph. 5:15).
Is it possible that with all the positive signs of spiritual life in your church or in your heart, there is still a sad disregard for your own personal holiness? When was the last time we took a verse like, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph. 5:4) and even began to try to apply this to our conversation, our movies, our YouTube clips, our television and commercial intake?
What does it mean that there must not be even a hint of immorality among the saints (v. 3)? It must mean something. In our sex-saturated culture, I would be surprised if there were not at least a few hints of immorality in our texts and tweets and inside jokes. And what about our clothes, our music, our flirting, and the way we talk about people who aren’t in the room? If the war on poverty is worth fighting, how much more the war on your own sin? The fact of the matter is, if you read through the instructions to the New Testament churches you will find few explicit commands that tell us to take care of the needy in our communities and no explicit commands to do creation care, but there are dozens and dozens of verses that enjoin us, in one way or another, to be holy as God is holy (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:13–16).
Let me say it again: I do not wish to denigrate any of the other biblical emphases capturing the attention of churches and Christians today. I know it makes a more exciting book if I say everyone else has missed the boat. That’s not the case, however. The sky is not falling, and it won’t until Jesus falls from it first. But we don’t have to pretend everything else is wrong to recognize we don’t have everything right. 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.