Recently, my husband and I began reading Kevin DeYoung’s The Hole in our Holiness. While quite humorous from the start, we’ve both been convicted by the assertions and challenges on human tendencies that have been presented so far.
The concept of holiness is oftentimes on my mind. All throughout my life, I’ve always been drawn to the idea of holy living. Growing up, I wanted to be holy probably more for my own reputation than because I was trying to identify with the Lord; however, age and life experience have taught me that fighting for holiness for my own reputation’s sake is not reason enough. There has to be more to it! My ideas on holiness have changed since my early years, but I still believe it’s just as important - my motivation has simply changed. But I’ll address more about that in a bit.
I resonate with DeYoung’s book because I believe that holiness appears to be lacking within believers - myself included. Oftentimes the argument made against certain forms of holy living is that we appear too legalistic if we’re anti certain movies/TV shows, alcohol, clothing, etc. But I have to say that this argument has always seemed insufficient to me. In fact, when I hear Christians assert this argument against wanting to appear too legalistic, I find it a bit offensive. It’s not our job to embrace “looser living” just so that the rest of the world doesn’t see us as too regimented and controlled.
Without having finished DeYoung’s book to know what he will posit as the issue in our holiness, I can assert that I believe there are two clear grievances that cause us to scrimp on holy living. The first of these is that we oftentimes lack a clear understanding of the brevity of our lives; consequentially, our sense of urgency has been lost! And then, rather than running this race of life with all that we’ve got, we oftentimes view it as a leisurely stroll with which we can take our time, neglecting to see that it is the small, daily choices to walk in line with holiness that create the pattern for those larger decisions in our lives.
Galatians 6:7-8 reminds us “do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” A seed looks small. It looks like watching that TV show full of adulterous relationships or glorifying same sex attraction. A seed looks small. It looks like eating that extra sweet treat when you know you’ve already gone way over your calorie count for that day. A seed looks small. It looks like sharing that short juicy detail about a friend with another friend. A seed looks small. It looks like a daily, ordinary choice. But notice that God is not mocked by this, nor should we act deceived, as if we just couldn’t believe how Jimmy did this or as if we just can’t imagine how we found ourselves in this particular trap we’re in. Seeds were sown. Small decisions were made.
The second hindrance to our holiness issue is that we don’t have an accurate picture of the glory of God, as much as we are able to understand in the here and now. This process can be a bit scary, because the greater the glimpse of God’s glory, the more we’re able to see the gap between Him and us. His glory reveals our sin. The gift is this: “my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 10:9).
I KNOW that I’m sinful; I see it regularly. Thoughts come into my mind that I occasionally entertain even when I know they don’t come from the Lord; I’ve lived many years out of fear rather than faith (How’s that for pointing people to a trustworthy God?); I’ve also said hurtful things about people behind their backs, slandered people’s good character, and chosen various other things of my flesh over the things of the Spirit far more times than I could even count. But as I’ve recognized more and more of my sin, I’ve been drawn to the heart of an infinitely perfect and loving God. Even though I’m saved, the temptations toward sin don’t go away. But we have a special power within us that those who don’t walk with the Lord don’t have - you guessed right - the Holy Spirit. Every time that we’re met with temptation, we can remind ourselves that we are dead to that particular sin. We have a new nature (Colossians 3).
I view my walk with the Lord as a race to the finish - I’m trying to follow Him faithfully and also daily surrender more of myself to Him. When faced with a simple choice - one that may appear to be innocuous, we occasionally find ourselves asking if whatever “it” my be is sinful. But I believe the better question (in our quest toward holiness) is, in the words of Pastor John Piper, “will it help me run?” Scripture reiterates this similar concept in 1 Corinthians 10:23, where Paul highlights that while everything may be permissible, not everything is profitable. We are wise to raise the standard in our questions, not seeking what we can get away with but desiring only what will make us run harder.
Holiness is the state of being dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred. I don’t write this definition here at the end because I’m afraid you don’t know it; I write it because it’s good for us to review denotations of words apart from the various connotations we’ve each built.
The fact is, when we’ve made a decision to follow the Lord and have publicly identified with Him, we have chosen holiness for our lives. It’s not an option. So remember, those daily choices aren’t saving you - no - but they do reveal to the world and yourself whom you’re choosing to follow that day. Will you sow seeds for the Lord, or will you sow seeds for your flesh? Daily holy living matters; the choice lies with you.