Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Review: The Utter Relief of Holiness by John Eldredge

"If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." 2 Timothy 2:21

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

"But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:15-16

"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives." 2 Peter 3:11

You can see from the Scriptures above that God calls us/commands us to be holy. Holiness is obviously very important. However, some Christians may view it as an unattainable thing. Others may think it requires too much work and effort.
According to the Webster dictionary:
  1. Holy
    set apart to the service or worship of God; hallowed; sacred; reserved from profane or common use; holy vessels; a holy priesthood
  2. Holy
    spiritually whole or sound; of unimpaired innocence and virtue; free from sinful affections; pure in heart; godly; pious; irreproachable; guiltless; acceptable to God
This book aims to help readers realize that holiness/genuine goodness can become a reality for all Christ's followers. In fact, once you understand how God not only wants you to be holy but also makes you whole and holy, you will be utterly relieved :)! Holiness is available to us in Christ Jesus!
"But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, Who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time." 2 Timothy 1:8b-9

"It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30 

God is always in the business of saving, restoring, healing, transforming, and sanctifying. I don't know about you but being reminded of that brings me great relief :). The author points out that wholeness and holiness go hand in hand. They affect each other. Holiness is a matter of the heart. Motives matter!  Also, we do have to make a choice! Choose holiness. The author encourages readers to not accept defeat before they even start fighting (the good fight). Sanctification is a process. At the same time, we must repent & renounce our sins, ask God to heal our brokenness, and ask Him to free us from spiritual strongholds/ bondage.

The book is divided into 2 main parts: Part 1--The Surprise of Holiness and Part 2--The Way to Holiness. You will find out what holiness really means according to Jesus. The book covers the costs and benefits of holiness in our lives and steps toward wholeness and holiness. The author provides lots of prayers to help guide readers. He also includes the "Daily Prayer" at the end of the book. The Utter Relief of Holiness is a no-nonsense book for spiritual growth written with honesty, humor, and occasional sarcasm. I only wish the author didn't use so many verses from The Message. This modern translation is quite loosely paraphrased. If you are serious about living for God, you'll desire to live in obedience which definitely encompasses holiness. "'Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord...let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." 2 Corinthians 6:17a, 7:1b

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"There are moral differences; some matters are far weightier than others....Blurring moral differences tries to make all things (sins) equal. They are not." (p.77)

"The only road to holiness is to know that we have died with Christ to sin; that the deepest, truest part of us doesn't want it. What a relief." (p.109)

"The Big Lie of sin is that it is inevitable...And as soon as you make that agreement--this is inevitable--you are going to fall prey to it. But it is not inevitable...Now we have an option, because of all Christ has done for us, and because God is at work within us." (p.120)

"Holiness will cost you. It will certainly cost you the expense of laziness; there's no more coasting through life. You have to be aware now of where your heart is going on any given day, what you're allowing in and where your heart is wandering off to...You have to be vigilant to guard your heart." (p.152)

"The life God uses is a life surrendered to Him. The surrender is what matters; this is what allows the powerful life of Jesus to invade ours fully. Seek a genuine holiness and you will discover the joys of knowing that your life is making a profound difference in this world--and in the one to come." (p.159)

"These are our marching orders in our pursuit of holiness: we will make loving God and loving others our motives and we shall find the beauty of Jesus' holiness." (p.171)

"The hope of Christianity is that we get to live the life of Jesus...Jesus can heal what has gone wrong inside each and every one of us. He does this by giving us his goodness; he imparts it to us. We get to live his life--that is, live each day by the power of his life within us." (p.179)    

~ I received a free copy of this book via Hachette Book Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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