Scripture is interesting in its wrestling with the intersect that makes up the complexity of real life. What I have in mind is simple enough even in its profundity.
The Christian faith, the gospel, calls us to a new life, period, of course a new life in and through Jesus. That call is not to some sense of arrival as much as moving in an altogether new direction which is in large part what repentance is all about. We turn from our own way, our sin, and we turn to God, to God’s way, the way of righteousness. But we do so as those always in need of grace both for our imperfection in doing so, and for contradictions to that all along the way. Not that we excuse sin or shouldn’t be able by grace to overcome certain sins. It’s just that we will both continue to sin here and there and we will more and more see how we are complicit in sin, and therefore sinning, not to mention the ways we still do sin by both omission and commission, aware of this in ways we couldn’t have imagined before. That increased sensitivity part of our growth in grace.
Of course scripture tells us to overcome sin, just as God warned Cain he must do if sin was not to overcome him (Genesis 4:6-7). So there’s the call for all people everywhere to repent, and there’s the realization that to do so we need God and God’s grace both in terms of forgiveness and cleansing, indeed enabling us to begin in the way of holiness. Of course this way is marked by love, God’s love in and through Jesus by the Spirit.
And so we can’t force godliness on other people anymore than we can make ourselves godly. God has to do this. What we can do is make every effort ourselves to put ourselves in that place where the change does begin to occur. Through prayer and doing what we believe God is calling us to do. Which in significant part will be nothing at all especially at certain points. And to apply that in our concern for others. We can’t talk others into the kingdom of God, though God might use our words, and especially our lives to speak to them. But especially through our prayers, or probably better said, all of this immersed in prayer. For God to reach them even as he is beginning to reach us. Not a one time act, but an ongoing practice, or way of life, in and through Jesus.