The Utter Relief of Holiness – John Eldredge  (Hodder and Stoughton)

A book with an intriguing title that delivers, as best selling US author explores the theme of holiness in a way that is both challenging and enticing.

Arranged in two parts, The Surprise of Holiness and The Way to Holiness, this scripture rich book looks at a biblical understanding of holiness, exploring the wonder of the grace and acceptance of God, what holiness looks like, and how we can change.

Early chapters focus on the captivating character of Jesus which contrasts so sharply with the supposed holy living urged by some churches. Eldredge revels in the wonder of forgiveness and the new heart received, stressing our identity in Christ as redeemed people. But he doesn’t flinch from reflecting on how we can be deceived by sin, and its wretched work in our lives. Especially biting is a chapter focusing on our motives and how our self protection postures mask underlying sin. We excuse our behaviour as ‘our personality’ rather than take our need and pain to God.

For every insight into how we may be tempted, there is wise and practical advice and encouragement on how we may be set free. He quotes the Bible liberally and includes prayers he uses daily and at particular times when the battle with sin seems especially fierce. He’s careful to acknowledge that some may need the tender care of someone who can uncover the true areas of bondage.

So Eldredge shows that holiness is a ‘relief’ as we learn to be the people God calls us to be. Both the novice and seasoned saint will find value in a book that compares favourably with the many classics on this challenging but glorious theme.