“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
This verse means that there is a precious experience of peace and assurance and harmony and intimacy that is not unconditional. It depends on our not grieving the Spirit.
It depends on our putting away bad habits. It depends on forsaking the petty inconsistencies of our Christian lives. It depends on our walking closely with God and aiming at the highest degree of holiness.
If this is true, I fear that the unguarded reassurances today that God’s love is unconditional may stop people from doing the very things the Bible says they need to do in order to have the peace that they so desperately crave. In trying to give peace through “unconditionality” we may be cutting people off from the very remedy the Bible prescribes.
Let us declare untiringly the good news that our justification is based on the worth of Christ’s obedience and sacrifice, not ours (Romans 5:19, “as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous”).
But let us also declare the biblical truth that the enjoyment of that justification in its effect on our joy and confidence and power to grow in likeness to Jesus is conditioned on our actively forsaking sins and forsaking bad habits and mortifying lusts and pursuing intimacy with Christ, and not grieving the Spirit.