I believe many Americans, including myself, have a mindset that holiness is basically the quick killing of any joy or anything fun. It is a long list of “don’ts” and I was prepared to feel awful and shameful after reading this book. I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there were times throughout the book that I did feel conviction, but shouldn’t I, if I have loved something that God hates? But overall, the book was truly encouraging. It was though-provoking and Mr. DeYoung poured out Scripture after Scripture and the Word of God did what it does best: it cut me the way a surgeon cuts – to heal, not to hurt.
I was relieved so many times, as I read, that I am not alone in my feelings with my faith. In page 75 Mr. DeYoung writes: “Some Christians are prone to go on lengthy idol hunts and can’t feel good unless they feel bad about something.” This spoke to me so strongly. Holiness is not about feeling bad all the time, it is more about finding joy in the things that God finds joy in. And when we do that, other things really grow dim.
I also appreciated that Mr. DeYoung does allow for the ranking of sin. Clearly, there is a difference between the saint who struggles with lust and doesn’t act on his thoughts and the saint who struggles with lust and then continually commits the actual act of adultery. One saint is more holy than the other, and there is nothing wrong with seeing the difference. One of these saints is more pleasing to God because he is practicing holiness. Mr. DeYoung plainly states that we can please God with our behavior. As many other Christians, I am so quick to cheapen any good deed of mine as a pile of heaping hot dung as I quote Isaiah, but Mr. DeYoung gives a good rebuttal to that type of thinking. In page 69 he writes “We need the imputed righteousness of Christ. More than that, we cannot produce any righteousness in our own strength. But as born-again believers, it is possible to please God by his grace. Those who bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God are fully pleasing to God. (Col. 1:10)” This tells me that there is nothing wrong with trying to please God and to strive to bring my Father pleasure as I work out my sanctification muscles. Let me quote the verse I mention above: “. . . so that I may please HIM in every way”.
But Mr. DeYoung also warns for those who fail in their walk: “But God does not expect our good works to be flawless in order for them to be good. If God only accepted perfect obedience from His children, the Bible would have nothing good to say about Job or David or Elizabeth or anyone else except for Jesus.” This gives me hope. Yes, I am going to fail in my pursuit of holiness. But, yes, I am going to get up again using the cross to help me up. In page 105 he writes: “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.”
This book did challenge me and pointed out some areas that I need to work on. But it was full of grace and the Gospel.
I do recommend this book to any Christian wanting to grow in holiness, which should be all of us, because all of us need help in this area. This would be a great book to use for a discipleship class. There are study guide questions in the back of the book for each chapter. The book is about 147 pages long. You can buy the book here.