20 Quotes From The Hole In Our Holiness

20 Quotes From The Hole In Our Holiness

What follows is a collection of 20 quotes that caught my attention as I read Kevin DeYoung's forthcoming book The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Crossway; August 31, 2012):

“Not only is holiness the goal of your redemption, it is necessary for your redemption. Now before you sound the legalist alarm, tie me up by my own moral bootstraps, and feed my carcass to the Galatians, we should see what Scripture has to say. . . . It’s the consistent and frequent teaching of the Bible that those whose lives are marked by habitual ungodliness will not go to heaven. To find acquittal from God on the last day there must be evidence flowing out of us that grace has flowed into us.” (26)

“On the last day, God will not acquit us because our good works were good enough, but he will look for evidence that our good confession was not phony. It’s in this sense that we must be holy.” (29)

“It’s all too easy to turn the fight of faith into sanctification-by-checklist. Take care of a few bad habits, develop a couple good ones, and you’re set. But a moral checklist doesn’t take into consideration the idols of the hearts. It may not even have the gospel as part of the equation. And inevitably, checklist spirituality is highly selective. So you end up feeling successful at sanctification because you stayed away from drugs, lost weight, served at the soup kitchen, and renounced Styrofoam. But you’ve ignored gentleness, humility, joy, and sexual purity.” (34)

“The world provides no cheerleaders on the pathway to godliness.” (38)

“How awful it would be to inhabit this world, have some idea that there is a God, and yet not know what he desires from us. Divine statutes are a gift to us. God gives us law because he loves.” (50)

“Expecting perfection from ourselves or others is not what holiness is about.” (66)

“We can think it’s a mark of spiritual sensitivity to consider everything we do as morally suspect. But this is not the way the Bible thinks about righteousness. . . . For those who have been made right with God by grace alone through faith alone and therefore have been adopted into God’s family, many of our righteous deeds are not only not filthy in God’s eyes, they are exceedingly sweet, precious, and pleasing to him.” (69–70)

“One of the main motivations for obedience is the pleasure of God. If we, in a well-intentioned effort to celebrate the unimpeachable nature of our justification, make it sound as though God no longer concerns himself with our sins, we’ll put a choke on our full-throttle drive to holiness. God is our heavenly Father. He has adopted us by his grace. He will always love his true children. But if we are his true children we will also love to please him. It will be our delight to delight in him and know that he is delighting in us.” (74)

“Of all the crazy things Paul said, 1 Corinthians 4:4 may be the most jolting. Here’s the apostle Paul — Mr. Wretched Man That I Am, Mr. There Is No One Good, No Not One — and he tells the Corinthians, ‘I am not aware of anything against myself.’ Seriously?! You can’t think of anything, Paul? Not a single idol buried somewhere under ten layers of your subconscious? Now let’s not miss the next line: “but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” So Paul isn’t claiming to be okay just because he feels okay. But he is saying he has a clear conscience. He obeys God and sticks close to his Word. This doesn’t mean he’s perfect. No doubt, he’s bringing his sins daily before the Lord to be cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8–9; Matthew 6:12). But he’s not walking around feeling like a spiritual loser. He’s not burdened with constant low-level guilt because he’s not doing enough or because he detected a modicum of pride over lunch.” (75–76)

“Sanctification is not by surrender, but by divinely enabled toil and effort.” (90)

“Some Christians are stalled out in their sanctification for simple lack of effort. They need to know about the Spirit’s power. They need to be rooted in gospel grace. They need to believe in the promises of God. And they need to fight, strive, and make every effort to work out all that God is working in them. Let us say with Paul, ‘I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me’ (1 Corinthians 15:10). Without this biblical emphasis, we’ll be confused, wondering why sanctification isn’t automatically flowing from a heartfelt commitment to gospel-drenched justification. We’ll be waiting around for enough faith to really ‘get the gospel’ when God wants us to get up and get to work (Philippians 2:12–13). Because when it comes to growth in godliness, trusting does not put an end to trying.” (90–91)

“The Bible is realistic about holiness. Don’t think that all this glorious talk about dying to sin and living to God [Romans 6] means there is no struggle anymore or that sin will never show up in the believer’s life. The Christian life still entails obedience. It still involves a fight. But it’s a fight we will win. You have the Spirit of Christ in your corner, rubbing your shoulders, holding the bucket, putting his arm around you and saying before the next round with sin, ‘You’re going to knock him out, kid.’ Sin may get in some good jabs. It may clean your clock once in a while. It may bring you to your knees. But if you are in Christ it will never knock you out. You are no longer a slave, but free. Sin has no dominion over you. It can’t. It won’t. A new King sits on the throne. You serve a different Master. You salute a different Lord.” (105)

“I’ve written this book to make you hopeful about holiness, not make you hang your head.” (107)

“Union with Christ means God’s power for us working in and through us.” (112)

“To run hard after holiness is another way of running hard after God.” (123)

“Which brings us to one of the most important axioms about holiness: when it comes to sanctification, it’s more important where you’re going than where you are.” (138)

“You shouldn’t take your spiritual temperature every day. You need to look for progress over months and years, not by minutes and hours.” (138)

“Sincere biblical repentance is as much a work of grace as not sinning in the first place. To err is human, to make progress is divine.” (144)

“A dying world needs you to be with God more than it needs you to be ‘with it.’ That’s true for me as a pastor and true for you as a mother, father, brother, sister, child, grandparent, friend, Bible study leader, computer programmer, bank teller, barista, or CEO. Your friends and family, your colleagues and kids — they don’t need you to do miracles or transform civilization. They need you to be holy.” (144–145)

“Holiness is the sum of a million little things — the avoidance of little evils and little foibles, the setting aside of little bits of worldliness and little acts of compromise, the putting to death of little inconsistencies and little indiscretions, the attention to little duties and little dealings, the hard work of little self-denials and little self-restraints, the cultivation of little benevolences and little forbearances.” (145)


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Tony Reinke is a content strategist and staff writer for Desiring God and the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011) and John Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (2015). He hosts the Ask Pastor John and Authors on the Line podcasts, and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and their three children. He also blogs at tonyreinke.com.