I’m not sure if a term like “provisional grace” hits the nail on the head very well in regard to what I want to say, but I think there is a sense in which we can obey the commands of God, including the command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Of course none of us does that day in and day out, though I might surmise that in moments of time, or in some act, prompted by the Spirit, we might indeed fulfill that. And I would also surmise that we don’t always have to have mixed motives in doing so, in fact in something prompted by the Spirit (and we live in the Spirit as those in Jesus) I’m not sure why there has to be mixed motives at all. Except for the doctrine that we are sinners through and through and that nothing at all that we do cannot be without the taint of sin. I would want to challenge that in regard to those in the new creation in Jesus.
A good prayer, regularly prayed is the acknowledgement of how we have not loved God with all our hearts or our neighbor as ourselves. We can then ask God to search our hearts to bring to light any sin, and then pronounce the good news that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Yes, we need to acknowledge that we do sin and therefore we are sinners. Both in what we do and fail to do.
We need also to remember that there is victory for us in Christ in how we live. Yes, we are set free from the law of sin and death, but what does that mean? Certainly to walk in newness of life or in the immediate context, to fulfill the requirement of the law by the Spirit.
Provisional grace might be something like the idea that God accepts our imperfect obedience even with mixed motives. As humans living with the baggage we carry from living in this world, and as those who will not arrive to complete likeness to Jesus in this life, we won’t keep the commands of God as Jesus kept them, strictly speaking. And yet the Spirit helps us obey and grow in that obedience, so that our love for God and for neighbor should be more and more like Jesus, as we grow in grace. Of course in community. And it is indeed the Spirit of Jesus who lives in us.
God helps us love him and our neighbor purely, even if that love needs to mature and expand, according to where we are at. And so a newborn in Christ could well be as delightful to God in a sense, as one who has developed a close walk with God and is near the end of their journey in this life.
Keeping God’s and Christ’s commands is something that seems to be expected of God’s people in scripture. Not simply as a means of helping them see they are sinners and therefore receiving God’s grace in their confession of sin. The commands are something we actually are to do, and to grow in, as those who by grace are among the pure heart, in and through Jesus.