Walkin’ the Holy Tightrope

“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebrews 10:14).”

I've always loved how much truth is crammed into a single, short phrase like Hebrews 10:14. It's by far my favorite “summary” verse when talking to people about sanctification (i.e., “growing up spiritually”).

Holiness is a done deal – Jesus has already made us “perfect forever.” It doesnt depend on us and our performance. It’s also an ongoing, lifelong process – we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as we are “being made holy.”

To be fair, it’s something of a balancing act. I can see and appreciate how easy it would be to err on one side or the other (license versus legalism).

For example, if we were to only emphasize the first half of Hebrews 10:14 – that in God’s eyes, we’re already “perfected” – we run the risk of:

  1. Complacency and/or laziness, (as if personal holiness is optional),
  2. Developing a “party hearty” lifestyle that downplays sin and its effects (see #1 above), and/or
  3. Disinterest in any kind of mutual accountability (“Dude, isnt that just, like … judging?).

On the other hand, if we only emphasize the second half of the verse – that we’re still a work-in-progress when it comes to personal holiness – we run a different gauntlet of spiritual potholes:

  1. An anxiety-driven (and at times, neurotic) obsession with “following all the rules,”
  2. Wallowing in defeat/unable to enjoy God as Father, and/or
  3. Overzealous and unnecessarily punitive attempts at accountability (legalistic nit-picking of self and others).

When it comes to personal and community holiness, all of us tend to lean too far in one direction or another. Maintaining that all-important balance – having complete confidence in Christs finished work while humbly allowing the Spirit to refine our character -- isn’t automatic by any means.

But its worth pursuing. In fact, Id go so far as to suggest that a working definition of “spiritual maturity” should include our ability to humbly + confidently walk the Hebrews 10:14 tightrope, without apology, without striving, and without a net.

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