It seems like not too many sermons are preached these days on holiness. There are no messages from the pulpit about women looking like they had just kissed the side of a freshly painted barn. No preachers wiping the sweat from their brow as they warn sinners of the folly of even one sip of the devil’s brew. Most of us welcome the end of those legalistic days of measuring women’s hemlines to ensure modesty of dress, and warnings to men that anything outside of marriage beyond holding hands with a girl was anathema to holy living. All women were seductive and needed to be careful even of how we took a sweater off our shoulders in the heat of the summer sun. To do so improperly might mean we inadvertently tempted a believing brother to sin in his thought life. We should honor our brothers more faithfully than that. While a woman was given the power of seductress, men were implicitly generalized as mentally weak, not able to control the slightest provocation toward lewd thoughts which would inevitably lead to sinful behavior.
While we were welcoming the end of blatant legalism, we were ushering in a new era: an era which has proven to be one of cheap grace and absence of even the gentlest of church discipline.
The truth is, grace and law walk hand in hand. Without the law, grace is soft. It is a wimp. Without grace, the law is unrelentingly harsh. It is a bully.
How do we merge grace and holiness in a way that doesn’t cheapen grace or turn holiness into legalism? In our desire to live in a community of grace, how do we avoid becoming like the judges of the Old Testament where everyone did what was right in their own eyes? On the other hand, in our passion to fulfill the law and live like Jesus, how do we keep ourselves from a daily cracking of the whip, rather than braiding the cords of discipline when passion for God’s house is our sole motivation?
We discover the answer to these questions only when we grasp the heart of holiness and only when grace is sealed with the invitation of Jesus’ command for us to “be holy because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44 and 1 Peter 1:14-16).
How do you balance grace and holiness?
Abba Father, help us all to live in a community of grace which at its very core is pure and holy. In Jesus’ name, and for your glory, we pray. Amen.