I was first attracted to this book after listening to the address DeYoung gave at Together for the Gospel this year, “Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort” (audio download here). I found it to be one of the most helpful messages I’d heard on the topic of biblical sanctification.
Then I read the book and was again encouraged and helped. Just one sample of how the book is helpful:
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. Are you trustworthy? Are you kind? Are you patient? Are you joyful? Do you love? These qualities, worked out in all the little things of life, determine whether you are blight or blessing to everyone around you, whether you are an ugly spiritual eyesore or growing up into a good-looking Christian.
We live in a world obsessed with superficial beauty. Whether it’s on cable news or on the Weather Channel, the world expects a certain look. The message all around us is that you’re not good if you’re not good-looking. And so all of us-from ten-year-olds in makeup, to college students in ironic hipster garb, to stay-at-home moms on another diet, to middle-aged dads getting reacquainted with the gym, to aging boomers on Botox-we’re all interested in beauty. But what is true beauty? What is really worth seeing? Who has the look really worth imitating? Paul says, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil. 3:17). It’s godliness that God is looking for. The best-looking Christian is the one growing by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ. It’s all too common to think of holiness as some sort of snooty do-goodism, prudish moralism, or ugly legalism. But these isms are unfortunate caricatures, owing to our sins, our suspicions, and the lies of the devil. True holiness “is the most beautiful ornament and the most magnificent beauty which can be found in man.” Behold it in Christ and become like him in glory (2 Cor. 3:18).
God wants you to be holy Through faith he already counts you holy in Christ. Now he intends to make you holy with Christ. This is no optional plan, no small potatoes. God saved you to sanctify you. God is in the beautification business, washing away spots and smoothing out wrinkles. He will have a blameless bride. He promises to work in you; he also calls you to work out. “The beauty of holiness” is first of all the Lord’s (Ps. 29:2, KJV). But by his grace it can also be yours.
I highly recommend this book to you.
[Aside: Kevin DeYoung was also a speaker at the recent Desiring God national conference on sanctification, “Act the Miracle.” In anticipation of that event, Kevin recorded seven brief videos on topics taken from his book, and also did an extended interview with John Piper (part one, part 2).]