This is part 2 in the series Holy Yours. Read part 1 here.
We are taking a look at a book called “The Hole In Our Holiness” by Kevin DeYoung. I know you might be thinking, “Can there be a more boring subject than holiness?” The answer is, no! Holiness is hungering and thirsting after God and to call that boring…well…I’ll leave it there. So off we go with the first chapter “Mind the Gap.”
Holiness? Really? Isn’t that from some other century? If the Bible majors on it then so should we. The remarkable emphasis and sheer volume of verses and passages in the Bible on holiness pales in comparison to few other words. Yet, as J. I. Packer points out holiness is fallen upon hard times in modern Christianity (and may I add in America in general!). Three reasons for this are given by Packer: 1. We do not hear about holiness in preaching or books 2. We do not expect holiness from our leaders 3. We do not touch upon the need for holiness in our evangelism. I would add a fourth. We do not expect holiness from ourselves. We are tremendous underachievers when it comes to minimizing sin and maximizing our fleshly desires.
DeYoung gives 3 diagnostic questions for each of us to consider.
- Is our obedience evident to all? Can your neighbor say, “I know He’s a Christian because…” And going to church on Sunday morning doesn’t count. Can you differentiate yourself, your life, from the average person who does not know God?
- Is our heaven a holy place? Heaven is glorious and full of God’s love, but make no mistake about it, heaven is also holy. DeYoung writes, “No matter what you profess, if you show disregard for Christ by giving yourself over to sin-impenitently and habitually-then heaven is not your home.” Strong words that ought to strike holy fear into us.
- Are we great commission Christians? “Make disciples” -that is the great commission, right? Partly. Make holy disciples is the complete answer. Or as we say around Grace “better disciples.” The Great Commission is completed only once we have taught the nations (or ethne/people groups) to “obey” Jesus’ commands. God wants people to know Jesus, believe in Jesus and to obey Jesus. We tend to drop the ball on the last one.
O.K. so if everything is about making the unholy holy (Great Commission) then why is holiness not in vogue? Why do we not hear about holiness? “Convince me” you might be saying. In due time. But first DeYoung lists 8 (we will cover 6) reasons for the gap between the Bible’s emphasis on holiness and ours.
- Holiness was often equated with abstaining from a few social taboos. Don’t drink, don’t dance and don’t go to movies… and you get the point. A new generation of Christians doesn’t necessarily agree with these don’ts (especially movies but more on that later) and these sorts of lists are easy enough to get around. So, holiness is a non-starter for a whole new generation.
- Closely related to the first…no one wants to be called, “holier than thou.” So, you just don’t go there about dancing, drinking and movies. If you do, you will be called a legalistic prude who is stuck on the Little House on the Prairie and that is just humiliating.
- There are a whole lot of people who say they are Christians who really are not. If you’re really not Christian then you’re really not going to be serious about holiness.
- We live in a culture of cool. To be cool you need to stand out from the boring Christian crowd and push the envelope on issues like drinking, dancing, movies, language, and humor and so on. Cool is way more hip than holy.
- We have created a judge free zone. It is unseemly to judge another for their actions and choices. Come as you are and stay pretty much the same because God doesn’t judge so we shouldn’t either. Right?
- Holiness is hard work. Need I say more?
What about you (and me)? Could there be a gap between the Bible’s understanding of “Be holy for I am holy” and ours? Is holiness anything you even understand? Stay with this series and discover what holiness is and what isn’t and the ordinary everyday ways we can pursue it!