When the Bible calls us to holiness, which it does, it is not calling us to a fastidious primness that pretends to be holiness. Neither does it call us to a raw effort that refuses to touch the unclean thing externally, even though the heart does nothing but paw and fondle the unclean thing. And the Word does not call us to the kind of license that indulges in vice at levels less outrageous than what the pagans do, and calls it Christian liberty.
The kind of holiness we are called to is the kind that wants to be righteous, that wants to be like Jesus, that wants to be free from sin. Apart from Jesus, no man has even enjoyed this kind of holiness completely, but because of Jesus, many have enjoyed a genuine experience of this liberty.
This is something the grace of God actually does. Grace is much more than an idea. Grace is not a theological construct that we are allowed to keep in a safety deposit box in the heavenly places. No, grace is something we can see, hear, smell, and taste. Grace is not an abstraction.
When grace and peace are multiplied to a congregation, they grow in that grace. When grace is poured out, the people of God get wet. When grace comes, the glory of grace also comes. The people of God who have truly experienced this don’t need to be told that something happened. They know something happened—the role of teaching is to explain from the Bible what that was exactly.
It is not intended to persuade anybody that something happened. Teaching does not bring about the effect. It gives an account of something that needs an accounting. Teaching does not steer or direct the Spirit. Rather, teaching informs us that the Spirit cannot be steered, and points out that what has been happening was not engineered by any of us. And one of the things that gets explained after the fact is how it that a pack of sinners like us started to wanting holiness.