The Relationship Between Grace and Holiness
Living holy will not make God love you anymore than He already does, but it will make you love God more. Sinning will not make God love you any less but it will make you love God less and bind you up in destructive addictions (Rom 5:8, Heb 3:13, John 8:34, Rom 6:16). When God says, “Be holy for I am holy”, like all God’s commands birthed from love, He is wanting our very best, setting us up for maximum success and happiness.
Holiness, true holiness, is beauty and majesty personified. God knows what He is like and how well He is doing and He thinks we do well to join His way of life! I believe that holiness is the deepest craving of the human heart. But a twisted world and lying devil has deceived us, hidden the revelation, and sin has further hardened our hearts.
Holiness means “other than” or “set apart”. God knows that to be possessed by His Holy Spirit and “set apart” from the world, in all it’s darkness and brokenness, is the only way to find abundant life and peace in Jesus.
I used to read God’s command to “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) and see a kill-joy God sitting up there in the sky making unreasonable demands and stealing my fun – reducing my life, not calling it to blossom.
Why is there such a fight over holiness? I’d like to suggest to you that it is largely because we don’t really understand what the word means and, perhaps more importantly, the nature and heart of the Father who is calling us into it. Oswald Chambers said this: “The beginning of sin is the suspicion that God is not good.” I readily admit for some time I had my suspicions: I have imagined a po-faced slave driver who was wanting to catch me out in my carnal inadequacy. Do not be unaware: those suspicions and imaginations have a seductive author (Gen 3:1). The truth is God is good and always has our best interests at heart. Living holy is beautiful and the only way to true freedom. I don’t know about you, but I’m saying yes to the journey. I certainly haven’t arrived but praise God I have left.
You need to understand that there’s nothing you’ve done that made God love you. There’s nothing you can do that will make God not love you. He is love. (1 John 4:8.) However, there are lots of things you can do that will keep you from full understanding of the truth. Sin will make you spiritually retarded. Your heart will become hardened, cold, insensitive, unyielding, and unfeeling toward God. (Heb. 3:13.)
Sin isn’t smart. It’s foolish. It’s an emotional response. When you sin, you put blinders on. You can’t see or perceive. You become dull and lose your perception. Yes, sin has consequences. But God is a Spirit, and if you are born again He’s looking at you in the spirit. (John 4:24.) Even when you’ve sinned and given Satan an inroad into your life, God’s love for you has never fluctuated and neither has your righteous status before Him changed (Rom 5:17). He loves you just as much as He ever did. He doesn’t love you because you’re lovely. He loves you because He is love. Furthermore, you are justified and righteous by faith, not by your behaviour. (Rom 4-5)
A true understanding of God’s grace does not encourage sin. Grace which does not lead to transformation is perversion.
“God’s marvelous grace has manifested in person, bringing salvation for everyone. This same grace teaches us how to live each day as we turn our backs on ungodliness and indulgent lifestyles, and it equips us to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:11–12
As we read in the word of God, grace doesn’t license sin, grace empowers holiness. The grace of God equips us to live self-controlled, upright, godly(holy)lives. The grace of God hasn’t caused me to go and live in sin. You’re mistaken if you think that I’m encouraging people to live in sin. I’m encouraging people to understand that God’s love for them is unconditional. And if you ever get a revelation of that, you’ll serve God more accidentally than you ever have on purpose. Knowing that God won’t love us anymore if and when we change is a part and power of the very gospel which changes us.
(Ibid Andrew Wommack, “Living in the Balance of Grace and Faith”)