From White Horse Inn...
(12-17) "So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."
In Romans, Paul not only imforms us that salvation by grace alone is not permission to sin. "Fire insurance" is not the road to heaven.
On the other hand, we cannot be perfect and those who claim to have no sin - lie. In this life we cannot attain perfection.
But God demands perfection of those who cannot be perfect. How can this be?
This is the beautiful part of salvation by grace - unmerited favor.
We are not perfect, but we have perfection. This perfection isn't something we earn or something we grow into. The perfect righteousness that we have, we are given through the blood of Christ.
(There is a "debate" and I have a post growing on it, about whether or not this is "Christ's righteousness" that is "imputed" to us, or whether or not this righteousness is our own faith that has been given to us by God - that is reckoned as righteousness. That is for another day...)
Our faith is reckoned as righteousness! This doesn't happen after a lifetime - God grants us saving faith, through that faith comes God's grace. Right at the beginning of our Christian walk!
Many religious people believe that the best motivation for holiness is fear of punishment and hope of reward. Sermons often become either pep talks that attempt to cajole the people into following God because of the practical benefits, or scolding in which they’re brow-beaten for not gaining victory in Jesus or surrendering every area of their life. Paul starts at neither of those points when he wants to lead believers into the new obedience that results from the life in the Spirit, choosing instead to announce all over again the heavenly verdict that calms our fears and allows us to love God instead of resent him for the very first time in our lives.
How true! I remember the "do's and don'ts" of growing up. I remember the pastor scolding a couple (dating, not married) from the pulpit for holding hands in church.
I also remember (as an adult) striving for "sanctification" - the one you have to work for!
Paul tells us that we are righteous! Not because we are so good, but because Christ is so good.
Our faith brings perfection - not our own, because we cannot be perfect; not in this life. Christ is the only perfect being that ever walked this earth and it is His perfect sacrifice that wiped out our debt, leaving us free.
THAT is the "good news!"