Grace won't work for just anybody. It's only intended for those who've been made new at the core. It's our newness in Christ working with the freedom of grace that unleashes expressions of God's Spirit. - Andrew Farley, God Without Religion
In other words, NEWNESS + GRACE = FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
While speaking at a men's event, a guy actually argued with me that God had only made us "positionally" righteous. In other words, we were righteous 'in heaven,' or 'in the eyes of God' but not actually good and noble...not yet. Another way to state this guy's claim is that God only imputed [or credited] us with his goodness, but didn't impart [give or infuse] his righteousness within us.
I told the man that kind of only-in-heaven-goodness wouldn't do him any good; that merely getting credited with something is a lousy substitute for actually possessing it. How do you overcome addictions with only a 'positional' goodness and not actual goodness to overcome it? [ In other words, with a righteousness that can only be tapped into in heaven, but is of no value to you on earth.] That's like telling a convict at his review hearing that you've credited him with good behavior and time-served, but you're still going to keep him behind bars.
Grace will do you little good without newness: What you needed was a restored and alive heart that possesses the attractive and powerful goodness of Jesus. If God hasn't given you a new heart, with new appetites and new inclinations, what would his "grace" have to work with? God can't release a goodness in you if there is no goodness to release. He can't shape within you a better character if there's no spark of nobility to work with, no well of Christ-like purity to work with.
A potter needs good and clean clay to work with. Otherwise, his master hands will only be shaping wet gravel. He has already made you clean, new, noble. Enjoy it.
NEWNESS + GRACE = FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT