Kevin DeYoung’s book, The Hole In Our Holiness (2012, Crossway) is one of the most helpful books that I have read in a long time regarding the Christian life.
In its brief 146 pages, DeYoung puts the horse (the gospel) firmly before the cart (living the Christian life), as it should be. The cart can never truly get very far without the horse! In our day it seems that many pastors and writers either put the cart before the horse (or practically omit the gospel altogether) by legalistic or moralistic teaching, or they focus on the gospel nearly to the point of omitting the cart (what can often amount to a soft form of antinomianism). DeYoung ably shows that the writers of Scripture did no such thing – they taught doctrine and practice, faith and life – and that in the correct order.
So this book is both instructive and corrective. He shows us that the right motivation and fuel for living the Christian life (to borrow Jerry Bridge’s phrase – the pursuit of holiness) is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We who are in Christ have been saved by God for God – for holiness (chapter 2). He also shows the correct biblical relationship between the gospel and the law of God (chapter 4). In this chapter he fights against the unbiblical extremes of both legalism and antinomianism.
He notes what should be common knowledge among Christians today, but often is just not clearly understood – that sanctification, while a work of God’s grace in the lives of all true believers, still takes effort on our part. He writes,
It is the consistent witness of the New testament that growth in godliness requires exertion on the part of the Christian. (p.88)
Amen to that! Growth in godliness doesn’t just happen; it isn’t just automatic. There is no “cruise control” or “autopilot” in the Christian life.
There is also a chapter devoted to the topic of “Saints And Sexual Immorality” (chapter 8). This section is sadly all too necessary in our day and age. DeYoung notes that often when it comes to sexual immorality, those within the church just do not seem much different from those without. He writes,
If we could transport Christians from almost any other century to any of today’s “Christian” countries in the West, I believe what would surprise them most (besides our phenomenal affluence) is how at home Christians are with sexual impurity. It doesn’t shock us. It doesn’t upset us. It doesn’t offend our consciences. In fact, unless it’s really bad, sexual impurity seems normal, just a way of life, and often downright entertaining. (p.108)
If you are looking for a book to help you understand the Christian life – the what, why, and how of pursuing holiness and following Christ, then I highly recommend this book to you! It is easily the best book on that subject that I have read in quite some time. (Other helpful books on the subject include J.I. Packer’s book, Rediscovering Holiness, Jerry Bridges’ book, The Discipline of Grace, and J.C. Ryle’s classic book, Holiness.)
You can order a copy here: The Hole In Our Holiness