I would like to begin this week by thanking everyone who participated in last week’s discussion. It was a joy to hear your thoughts and interact with you! This week we will be discussing topics from chapters 1-5.
In Chapter 3 Kevin DeYoung gives several descriptions/definitions of what it means to be holy. At the most basic level, holiness is being set apart from the world or unlike the world and its hatred for righteousness. It means being “like God” who is himself completely holy. At one point DeYoung clarifies that it is not the outward conformity to righteousness that makes one holy, but rather it is a changing of the very character of a person that sets him apart unto God as holy:
Christians often equate holiness with activism and spiritual disciplines. And while it’s true that activism is often the outgrowth of holiness and spiritual disciplines are necessary for the cultivation of holiness, the pattern of piety in the Scriptures is more explicitly about our character. We put off sin and put on righteousness. We put to death the deeds of the flesh and put on Christ. To use the older language, we pursue the mortification of the old man and the vivification of the new.
You can think of holiness, to imply 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 course 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 wild parties. The hands are quick to help those in need and ready to fold in prayer. This is the anatomy of holiness.
Can you imagine a holiness that is so pervasive and life altering such as what is described above apart from the powerful work of the Holy Spirit who is continually conforming us to the image of Christ? Of course not. It is this incredible gospel that we believe and trust in that makes such a thing possible. Furthermore, DeYoung goes on in the chapter to say: “If holiness looks like the restoration of the image of God in us, then it shouldn’t be surprising that holiness also looks like Christlikeness, for Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15) and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb. 1:3). The whole goal of our salvation is that we should be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29). We see in Jesus the best, most practical, most human example of what it means to be holy.” Praise God that because of what Christ has accomplished for us and the generous outpouring of his Spirit now living in us, we are able to strive toward a life that is like his: loving, passionate, righteous, honest, humble, obedient, honorable, and so much more!
The book goes on in the next couple chapters to explain how we not only are given the ability to obey, but should wholeheartedly desire to obey and delight in the law of God. We are reminded that the law is a reflection of our holy God who has redeemed us and brought us into his family as his sons and daughters. The powerful work that Christ accomplished for us on the cross has taken what was once an impossibility (obedience to the law of God) and very much a damning standard and made it not only possible but desirable to our new redeemed natures. It is a both a gift and privilege to strive toward holiness–it is what we were saved for. How great is this grace that has been shown to us?
Discussion Questions for Week 2
As you read this week, come back to this post and join in the conversation! Leave your thoughts in the comments!
1. DeYoung suggests that “The simplest way to judge gray areas like movies, television, and music is to ask one simple question: can I thank God for this?” Do you think applying this principle to your own life would have an effect on the things you are entertained by? If so, how? What other areas of life can you apply this principle to?
2. How do you view the Law of God? Do you see it as a burden or delight? Has your reading of chapter four impacted your view of the Law? If so how?
3. What are some of your favorite quotes from your reading this week? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Can’t join in this month? Join us next month as we read Feminine Threads by Diana Lynn Severance.