There has been an unfortunate battle in the church over the role of Grace and Holiness in our relationship with God. Some are zealous about Holiness, afraid of allowing Grace to go overboard, to make sure they are not allowing any room for sin, while some who preach the Grace message belittle those in the church who preach the Holiness message. They are two sides of the same coin. One can’t exist without the other.
It is absolutely biblical to preach the necessity of living under the Grace of God, everything is by His Grace, and we are to live completely in the Grace of God. It is also absolutely biblical to preach the necessity of living a Holy lifestyle. Without a desire to live a Holy lifestyle, Grace can often become an excuse to not allow God to grow us and even sometimes become an excuse to accept sin in our lives. But without Grace, living a Holy lifestyle is absolutely impossible. Holiness and Grace cannot operate independently of each other. The Bible teaches both, and both are true, and neither makes the other any less true. A mistake I see made by church leaders is allowing the abuses and actions of members in the church to jump to preaching Holiness in reaction to Grace preaching or vice versa. But we as a church can’t allow the actions of others to undermine either of these truths in our lives.
Without the stark reality of the necessity of a Holy lifestyle, we create a false Christian reality for ourselves that does not need God’s strength and power working in our lives. This false reality does not need the fullness of Grace that God wants operating in our lives. A life that isn’t fully aware of and desiring of God’s Holiness has no reason to pull on the Grace of God beyond the forgiveness of sins and salvation.
And without God’s Grace, the reality of the need for Holiness becomes an impossible, heavy burden that crushes you. A life of Holiness is impossible without God’s Grace, but Grace isn’t fully operating and manifested in a person’s life until they go after God for a life and conduct they can’t accomplish on their own. Let me put it a different way: The fullness of Grace that God has given you isn’t necessary or operating in your life until you start living, thinking, and acting in ways that are impossible by your own ability and strength. The apostle Paul preached about living a life apart from sin, but one of his most common prayers for the church was that the Grace of God be upon us all. Paul knew we needed God’s Grace to live the Holy life God has called us to!