For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are justified through Christ
… and through no action or work of our own.
It’s true: you can’t work your way into heaven. No amount of ‘good works’ will present you as righteous before God; the nature of our sin is too great. “But,” you ask, “what of Mother Teresa? She did a great many good works! One could even go so far as to argue that she had done nothing except good works! Surely one who lives a life such as hers would be guaranteed a spot in heaven?” to which I would reply “You have a very eloquent and unique manner of speaking.”
I would also express that it’s not her that’s doing those good works, rather, it’s Christ in her that gives her the ability, desire, and motivation to do the things she did. Without God we are powerless to do anything outside of our own selfish desires. It’s Christ’s death on the cross that justifies us before the Lord.
You see, back in the day, when we were created (this is not a place for arguments about 7-day, 4k earth, or just general ‘genesis interpretation’), something in us became corrupted, sin was introduced into us, and redefined us. Where once we existed with the ability to sin or not to sin, we now are able to sin and only sin. Our very nature is to be selfish and self-serving, Anything which is not done for the glory of God is sinful (, ), and we are not capable of being truly righteous in our own actions.
Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? Seems pretty hopeless; we know that the ‘wages of sin are death’ (, ESV) and if you consider that along with the knowledge that we are at our very core sinful then there’s really not much that we can do, right?
Ephesians gives an example of the hope we have in Him: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (). If left to our own devices and desires, we will absolutely be ‘swimming in sin.’ When we find that there is something greater to be had in life – a life change that is given to us – we will find ourselves doing those good works – as a response to that grace, not in order to earn it!
Do you seek to do good works as a way to curry favor, or as a response to grace?
Killer Album of the moment: Zion by Hillsong
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (ESV)
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (ESV)