In his master work, The Institutes, Calvin set forth his theology of grace and sanctification. After attacking the notion of people earning divine favor with good deeds, Calvin addresses the question of how we are to live as Christians saved by grace—and why.

“I do not so strictly demand evangelical perfection that I would not acknowledge as a Christian one who has not yet attained it.”


The life of the Christian Man; and First, by What Arguments Scripture Urges Us to It

Motives for the Christian life…

Now this Scriptural instruction of which we speak has two main aspects. The first is that the love of righteousness, to which we are otherwise not at all inclined by nature, may be instilled and established in our hearts; the second, that a rule be set forth for us that does not let us wander about in our zeal for righteousness.

There are in Scripture very many and excellent reasons for commending righteousness, not a few of which we have already noted in various places. And we shall briefly touch upon still others here. From what foundation may righteousness better arise than from the Scriptural warning that we must be made holy because our God is holy? [Lev. 19:2; I Peter 1:15–16]. Indeed, though we had been dispersed like stray sheep and scattered through the labyrinth of the world, he has gathered us together again to join us with himself. When we hear mention of our union with God, let us remember that holiness must be its bond; not because we come into communion with him by virtue of our holiness! Rather, we ought first to cleave unto him so that, infused with his holiness. we may follow whither he calls. But since it is especially characteristic of his glory that he have no fellowship with wickedness and uncleanness, ...

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