***IF WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, WHY MUST…
***IF WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, WHY MUST WE ALSO BE HOLY?***
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
This subject has created much confusion. While it is clear that we are saved by grace operating through faith (and repentance) (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:27-28), yet it is also clear that we were saved in order to live a holy life.
However, from what we read in Hebrew 12:14, it seems that holiness is also necessary for salvation. How then can salvation be a free gift of God:
· For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
Even faith is part of the gift. When the Spirit regenerates (makes alive) our heart, faith/repentance is the result. Holiness is the inevitable fruit of a real saving faith and of salvation, not its cause. If we claim to trust in Jesus but refuse to follow Him, it means that we don’t really trust Him and that our faith is not genuine. In light of this, holiness or obedience is the *fruit* of saving faith. If we are not trying to follow Jesus, it means that we don’t trust in Jesus and are not saved:
· Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” (John 14:23-24)
Keeping His Word doesn’t save us. Instead, it is the proof and the fruit that we are saved. If we don’t endeavor to follow our Savior, it means that He was never our Savior.
Well how much obedience or holiness do we need to be saved? God knows the heart. If it is regenerated, we will want to seek holiness. In the case of Esau, Hebrews claims afterwards that Esau was the prime example of someone who wasn’t holy, because he didn’t care about the things of God:
· See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:15-17)
Esau’s problem wasn’t that he wasn’t holy enough. He simply wasn’t holy at all. He grieved that he had lost his father’s blessing but despised the things of God and, therefore, never repented (which is the flip-side of faith). When we do confess and repent of our sins, something Esau never did, we are forgiven and *completely restored* to holiness:
· If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
None of us can ever be good enough to merit or deserve salvation. It must be given as a gift from God, whose evidence is obedience. Here is a little formula that attempts to put together what I’ve been saying:
Grace—–faith (repentance) ->SALVATION -> Obedience (as a fruit or result of salvation, not its cause)