These two characteristics are often pitted against each other. This should not be. Both are essential. While I believe wholeheartedly that holiness is God’s governing attribute, this far from excludes the exercise of love. In fact, one of Paul’s prayers for the Thessalonians demonstrates that in the Christian life love is essential for holiness!
…may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people…so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints (1 Thess 3:12-13)
Paul prays that God will cause (continuing the theme of God’s sovereignty, cf. 1:4) these believers to grow in their love for one another to the end that the Lord will strengthen their “heart,” the whole inner man. As believers increasingly love others the Lord strengthens them and they reflect God’s holiness.
You won’t grow stronger in character and truly be holy by merely keeping rules and measuring up to standards. You must love others with genuine Christian love.
Let’s junk this false dichotomy that pits holiness against love and vice versa. After all, God is both! We must be holy because God is holy, and we will only be holy as we demonstrate love for others. An absence of love demonstrates selfishness, and that is definitely unholy.
I will not be holy if I do not love.