A very common way we keep God at arm’s length – especially among new believers – is by trying to have our salvation cake and eat it, too. By this, I mean our tendency to embrace the new creation God wants to make of us while at the same time clinging to the old habits that made us so needy of His grace to begin with. To do so is to expect a “lukewarm” affiliation with our Heavenly Father, and that’s just not something He’s willing to accept. (Revelation 3:15-16) A relationship with God is an all-or-nothing commitment.
As Paul explained it to the church in Corinth, “If anyone is in Christ… the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) There is no “best of both worlds” scenario where our salvation is concerned. This is precisely why Jesus called upon his disciples to count the cost of following Him and to be ready and willing to lay it all on the line. (Matthew 10:39) And it’s why Paul counseled new believers to be transformed by God’s changing work in their lives – not to let the world from which they came have any part in shaping their new selves. (Romans 12:2)
We can’t have it both ways! We can’t be reborn to God if we refuse to die to our old selves. We can’t carry Christ’s cross if we’re still hanging onto our old baggage. And we can’t invite the Holy Spirit to dwell within us if we haven’t cleaned out our “temple” and made a proper place for Him.