I recently started working part-time as a stylist at a little boutique in my hometown. Since it’s a classy place to shop, I was shocked to learn that we lose thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise every year—and that seemingly sweet customers do this right under our noses. Into the dressing room go three pairs of pants … out come two. Jewelry finds its way into purses and out the door without the price tags getting scanned. It’s bold. And we can’t do very much to prevent it—or to stop the culprits, even when we see it.
Some of us get hung up on God’s laws. We obsess over our motives and feel low-grade guilt most of the time. I understand the legalist. "Grace!" is the daily shout we need to jolt us from our Pharisaical tendencies.
But legalism isn’t the only problem area for us as Christians. Since we’re under grace—since we have a relationship with God, and since our sins are forgiven—sometimes we can be careless about obedience. In fact, we can be pretty bold about it.
The Holy Spirit within you sends a warning. You’re in the temptation zone. Sometimes the zone is as brief as a blink. Sin or obedience—choose.
And you choose sin.
You can’t claim it was an accident. Your eyes were open; you did it on purpose. And we start talking to ourselves. "There won’t be major consequences. It isn’t such a big deal. God is gracious. He’ll forgive me."
In The Hole in Our Holiness, Kevin deYoung sounds a wake-up call.
The hole in our holiness is that we don’t really care much about it. It’s not that we don’t talk about sin or encourage decent behavior. Too many sermons are basically self-help seminars on becoming a better you. That’s moralism, and it’s not helpful. Any gospel which says only what you must do and never announces what Christ has done is no gospel at all. I’m talking about the failure of Christians, especially younger generations and especially those most disdainful of "religion" and "legalism," to take seriously one of the great aims of our redemption and one of the required evidences for eternal life—our holiness.
My fear is that as we rightly celebrate … all that Christ has saved us from, we are giving little thought and making little effort concerning all that Christ has saved us to. Shouldn’t those most passionate about the gospel and God’s glory also be those most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness? (10–11)
Have you slipped into a habit of ignoring the Holy Spirit? Like the customers in the boutique I work in, do you feel like you can "get away" with unholiness right under His nose because God is merciful and loves you? Do you speak glowingly about grace and the free gift of the gospel, but take God’s commands to obey Him lightly? Let’s hash this out in the comment section.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Rom. 6:1–2).