"Today we are all bombarded with the message that we will be more loved when we make ourselves more attractive. It may not be God-related, and yet still it is a religion of works, and one that is deeply embedded. For that, the Reformation has the most sparkling news. As Luther put it: 'sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive.' Only this message of the counterintuitive love of Christ offers a serious solution." (The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation, by Michael Reeves, 191, emphasis mine)
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).
Unattractive sinners + the life-changing love of Christ = lives that grow increasingly more attractive...by grace
Unattractive sinners + effort to be attractive enough to get God's attention ≠ loved by Christ
Or, we don't obey in order to be accepted by God. We obey because we've been accepted by God.
"We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
Getting the order right makes all the difference. Transposition is as serious as condemnation.