Your Deeper Life Now

Your Deeper Life Now October 22, 2021

Image: Crossway

I’m tempted to write a tongue-in-cheek review of Dane Ortlund’s new book Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners, where I talk about it like it’s some prosperity gospel (well, ‘gospel’) schlock. But 1) I don’t know the author personally at all, and I think that’s always more helpful in using sarcasm, and 2) this really is an excellent book and I wouldn’t want to run the risk of confusing people. Because if you are concerned with sanctification–and if you’re a believer, you should be–then Deeper is a book you should read, absorb, and be blessed by.

But how do we grow? Deeper isn’t a book full of tips and tricks. It doesn’t cover church attendance, small groups, fasting, or any other things–important things!–that help us in our walk with Christ. Instead, it is about how our focus should be turned while we are walking. Specifically, Deeper argues that

“Growing in Christ is not centrally improving or adding or experiencing but deepening. Implicit in the notion of deepening is that you already have what you need. Christian growth is bringing what you do and say and even feel into line with what, in fact, you already are.” (16)

Now we have to be careful here, because this kind of language really could be the start of a prosperity gospel work, or a text of legalism, or even just a pop psychology self-help tract. There are plenty of books out there telling us that we’re really kings and queens and need to realize that in our lives. That we’re really already rich and only don’t reflect it in our bank accounts because we lack true faith. Or that we’re really champions and are only sick because we’re not believing enough in ourselves. And so on.

Fortunately, none of that nonsense shows up in Deeper. Instead, that which we “already are” into which we need to go ‘deeper’ is the fact that we are all sinners who have rebelled against a good God, and who deserve hell, and the further fact that outside of us–even, despite us–the Son of God and second person of the Trinity became a man, lived the life of perfect obedience that you and I should have lived, and took on Himself the just punishment that you and I deserved. The life and death of Christ being counted as ours is something that we do not make happen, but is simply a free gift from God applied by the Holy Spirit. This is the true status of our lives into which we need to go ‘deeper.’ And this is what Ortlund reflects on through various facets of the Christian life like pain, union, and despair.

So if you are a believer who wants to think carefully and devotionally about the nature of sanctification in action, this is the book for you.

Highly recommended.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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