Monday, April 30, 2018

Good Works

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)

Admit it; there are times where you look at other people and think you are better than them. It may be because you look better, get better grades, have a more blessed life, or don’t do the wrong things you see others doing. Let’s face it: we all are bent toward thinking like this, perhaps some more than others, but we all do it.

This is admittedly bad enough, but worse is when we compare ourselves favorably over others and believe it somehow helps our status before God. Again, we all tend to do this at one time or another. It happens when we fail to understand the utter depth of our sin and the Lord’s abhorrence of it.

The fact that we all have sinned (Romans 3:23) completely disqualifies us from any position to boast about our “goodness.” As Jesus reminds us, “No one is good—except God alone.” (Luke 18:19) Thus, as ones who consider themselves to be saved, there is nothing about which to boast, except the Lord’s grace to us, undeserving as we are.

Sadly, this is not what people, even many self-proclaimed followers of Jesus, believe. Rather, they believe the lie that good works play the key role to getting in good with God. They think He will be impressed with their attempts to live a good life. This is why many do religious things—to make up for their sins, similarly to Muslims who seek to “tilt the scales” of their lives with more good deeds than bad ones in order to gain entry into the eternal realm. 

If, indeed, you think you are somehow better than someone else because you go to church regularly, or read your Bible or pray daily, or don’t do some of the many things others do, like getting drunk, sleeping around, cheating, etc., then recognize this truth: you still are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. No amass of good works can overcome the deadly effect of even one sin, let alone of a lifetime of them. It is God’s grace alone that can save us from eternal death. And when we understand this, we can then give up the folly that somehow we are better than others.

Today, if you haven’t already, recognize the truth that you can never be good enough in your behavior or thinking to overcome your own sinfulness. Only the Lord can do that through His grace. And once you realize and accept this, then your good works will not be to impress Him, but rather expressions of your love and appreciation for Him.

© Jim Musser 2018

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