Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review - Christ Formed in You (Part IV)

The next section of the book covers 4 chapters, outlining the pattern of personal change.

Holiness is often seen as a dull concept, but Hedges helpfully outlines that the real thing is made to be irresistible. There is a tension here of course, God is other, morally perfect, causing a reaction that Sproul calls the 'trauma of holiness'...yet this same holiness, seen most clearly in the person of Christ, is what we were made for. Genuine holiness both alarms and delights us (a pleasing pain). And it is the gospel that enables this holiness - something that is not mere morality, but transformation.

This holiness is both a putting off and putting on, a mortification and a vivifivation (the second and third chapters in this section). We first kill sin in our lives. After outlining some wrong views on this, Hedges outlines 10 ways in which we can kill sin, such as yielding to God, making no provision for the flesh, replacing sin with grace, the spirit, etc - outlining not merely principles, but scattering in several helpful examples to illustrate (something done frequently and helpfully through the entire book). While get rid of sin, we also strive to replace with godly character (branches are pruned not just to be pruned, but to bear fruit). Holiness is a lifelong walk ever more closely towards the image of Christ. Motivated by the mercies of Christ, we give all in return (Rom 12). This is first an inner change that reveals itself in outward change, being transformed by the renewing of our minds and with the empowerment of the spirit. Hedges finally outlines some realities about this transformation, such as the fact it is relational (vertically and horizontally), it will involve conflict, and it is symmetrical (I found this very helpful...we are only as spiritual as our weakest trait.

Finally, holiness is motivated by joy. The reality is, as God made us, we cannot know full joy without knowing the full reality of holiness. Looking to writers such as Brooks and Piper, Hedges points out that one of our greatest hindrances in holiness is a lack of desire, longing for the pleasures God alone can give...this is key in transformation (in the wonderful title of Chalmer's essay, through "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection"). The section closes with some very practical examples of how God's promises can help fight very specific issues (greed, lust, etc).
Note: I am reviewing this from a PDF version provided by the author, Brian Hedges


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