We continue on with our series on holiness from the book “The Hole In Our Holiness” by Kevin DeYoung.
Today we look at 5 cheap imitations of holiness according to DeYoung. It is all too easy to mistake a false sense of holiness with fake alternatives.
DeYoung begins “there’s no question holiness is one of the central themes in the Bible. The word “holy” occurs more than 600 times in the Bible, more than 700 when you include derivative words like holiness, sanctify, and sanctification. You can’t make sense of the Bible without understanding that God is holy and that this holy God is intent on making holy people to live with him forever in a holy heaven.”
Remember from last week, one of the reasons for your redemption is to make you holy in this life (part 3 in this series). So just what does holiness look like? Let’s begin with what holiness doesn’t look like.
1. It doesn’t look like mere rule keeping. There is an element of rule keeping to holiness so mere is a key word. Jesus after all didn’t say, “If you love me, you will give up on rules and religion and do whatever makes you feel good.” He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15). Rule keeping however, can quickly turn into an external morality that is absent the internal love for God. We can please men by living a checklist Christianity. Didn’t do this, didn’t do that so I’m holy. Problem is that checklist will often ignore very real idols of our heart. We begin to pick and choose our check list. That was the Pharisees problem and Jesus didn’t score them too high on the holiness chart. Holiness is cannot be reduced to less than rule keeping but it is so much more.
2. It doesn’t look like generational imitation. Holiness is not bound to any specific era or generation, it is for all times and for all generations. We must not look back to a previous time and say, “If we could only live back in those days. The world was so much less evil and people were so much more Christian then.” Perhaps the world “looked” less evil (no internet and 1,000 channel cable system were around to display what was surely present in the culture) but people were not “more” Christian. They had their issues too (I say this will all love of course). We must be careful to assume one generation or another is the model for holiness. Each generation must pursue holiness within the cultural context they live in.
3. It doesn’t look like generic spirituality. “Has there ever been a phrase more adept at smuggling in doctrinal confusion and moral laxity than the slogan, ‘spiritual, not religious?’ More often than not the phrase implies a dislike for theological standards, moral absolutes, and organized religion. Being spiritual in contemporary jargon means you are open to mystery and interested in “spiritual” things like prayer, healing, and inner peace. True spirituality means being transformed by the Spirit through communion with the Father and the Son. If you are interested in spirituality, your priority should be to grow in holiness that comes from the Spirit. Righteousness is the goal of Christian discipleship.” I would add true spiritual vitality cannot be mimicked. You are either walking with Christ and bearing spiritual fruit or you’re not.
4. It doesn’t look like finding your true self. Our culture obsesses with following our heart and being true to yourself. In our home we affectionately call this “Disney theology.” One problem, our self is in opposition to God (Rom. 5:10). We can no more trust ourselves than we can save ourselves. Holiness does not come from looking within ourselves but looking unto the author and completer of our faith Jesus Christ (Heb 12:2).
5. It doesn’t look like the way of the world. Worldliness really should be of concern to the follower of Jesus. I know, “worldliness was something our grandparents were uptight about. We have a planet to save and no time to concern ourselves with such trivialities.” Let us not be confused, being a “better Christian” in the world’s eyes is not our goal. Our goal is to be a “better Christian” in God’s eyes, and that will come at cost Jesus said (John 15:18). The world cares little for true holiness and righteousness, so be prepared for it to care little for yours.
Tomorrow, we begin our look at the real deal of what holiness is!