Unfortunately, there are many these days who have come to believe that as it relates to our sanctification, God’s grace and personal effort are mutually exclusive. They unwittingly, and in some cases intentionally, conflate their understanding of justification with their practice in sanctification. In their misapplication of the doctrines of grace they end up replacing spiritual vigilance with apathy, urgency with passivity, contrition over sin with indifference, ambition to store up eternal reward with disinterest, and a determination to pursue holiness with a conspicuous lack of concern.
But Paul told Timothy that to “be strengthened by grace” is to be ready and willing to suffer hardship as a solider, to run as a conscientious athlete intent on keeping the rules, and to expectantly anticipate the fruit of diligent labor as the hard-working farmer (2Tim.2:1-6). Sadly today’s misguided view of grace is turning Christian soldiers into philosophers, hard-working farmers into mystics, and slaves of righteousness into slaves of their fluctuating feelings and meandering contemplations.
Yes, we must never cease to praise God for his unmerited favor, but we must also be careful to allow his grace to instruct us each day to actively “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” knowing that Christ’s redemption on the cross was not only to secure our place in God’s family, but was also intended to motivate us today to be “zealous for good works” (Tit.2:11-14).