Today the book club moves on to the second half of Kevin DeYoung’s book The Hole In Our Holiness.
Chapters 6 and 7 contain beautiful and vital truths for the Christian life. They are beautiful because they explain the marvelous grace shown to us through the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they are also vital because they explain how that grace impacts our ability to pursue holiness. Take for instance this quote from chapter 6:
The same Spirit who was present at creation and caused you to be born again is at work to empower your inner person (that is, your will or heart) so that you might resist sins you couldn’t resist before and do the good things which would otherwise be impossible. Defeatist Christians who do not fight against sins because they figure they were “born this way” or “will never change” or “don’t have enough faith” are not being humble. They dishonor the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with supernatural power.
Previously, DeYoung dispelled the idea that focusing on the gospel and actively pursuing holiness were at odds with each other. The work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is a perfect example of how the two–gospel truth and the call to holiness–work hand in hand. The Spirit who saves us is powerfully at work within us–giving us the ability to obey and walk in righteousness. I think we have a tendency to view the Spirit’s work of allowing us to say no to sin and yes to righteousness as the easy part and our part of actually following through as the difficult part, but it is the very power of the Holy Spirit that not only frees us, but motivates us, and empowers us to obey. It is him all the way! We must push with all our might toward holiness because he is supplying supernatural strength for us in the war against sin. With such a supply of grace available to us, it would be ridiculous and lazy to not put forth effort.
My favorite chapter thus far has been chapter 7 where DeYoung explores the implications of our union with Christ. This truly is a concept that is often overlooked by many Christians and one that I, myself, yearn to understand more deeply. It truly is, as is described below the difference between legalism and a genuine and victorious pursuit of holiness:
Apart from our union with Christ every effort to imitate Christ, no matter how noble and inspired at the outset, inevitably leads to legalism and spiritual defeat. But once you understand the doctrine of union with Christ, you see that God doesn’t ask us to attain to what we’re not. He only calls us to accomplish what already is. The pursuit of holiness is not a quixotic effort to do just what Jesus did. It’s the fight to live out the life that has already been made alive in Christ.
Isn’t it marvelous to think that everything we have been asked to do, every way we have been asked to obey, every sin we have been asked to forsake has been provided for in our Savior? We are not alone in this fight, but rather we are bound to Christ in every way. He is our righteousness and has provided all that we need to walk in that righteousness. What a blessing it is to pursue this holiness–this gift–he has given us!
Discussion Questions for Week 3
As you read this week, come back to this post and join in the conversation! Leave your thoughts in the comments!
1. In chapter 6 DeYoung loosely quotes J.C. Ryle as saying, “The child of God has two great marks about him: he is known for his inner warfare and his inner peace.” What does this truth communicate to you? Can you give a scripture reference for each of the “marks” Ryle is referring to?
2. 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.