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Posts Tagged ‘works’

by Jim Gordon

Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus

We Christians so often spend our time working at trying to obey the Ten Commandments and trying to do the right thing when in actuality we do not need to be trying to keep the law at all.

We know we are saved by grace but we will still try to mix in some good works by our own effort. We go to church every time the door is open, we tithe our ten percent, we will not smoke, drink, dance or go to movies. We look down and condemn those who do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we know is right to do as Christians. It is all work, work, work.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ and Him alone. Not Jesus plus works, not Jesus plus baptism, not Jesus plus obeying the law. We are saved through faith in Christ and we do not have to do any of these things. We do not have to avoid certain things to be loved by God. We have a freedom in Christ that was bought and paid for with the death and resurrection of Jesus. That does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want, but we live in the freedom we have through grace. We do things out of love, love for God and love for others. It is no longer out of obligation or trying to follow the law.

Let’s stop putting all the rules and regulations on ourselves and others that we think will make us better people. Let’s stop adding a mixture of law and grace by trying to earn the love of God by our works. Let’s start loving God and loving others and enjoy the freedom God has provided by his grace.

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As Christians, we all want to live a life pleasing to God. We go about that in many different ways. We try to follow the golden rule, obey the ten commandments, read the bible more, pray more, attend church more and a various number of other things.

Of course we know that we cannot earn our salvation through works, so we need to think about what our motivation is for the things we do.

Many people emphasize good works and doing things for God because they feel they need to be doing something for God. Some feel we owe God for the gift of salvation, while others are trying to earn their salvation by their works.

There is nothing wrong with good works, as long as we are doing them out of love and by God’s strength and guidance.

Good works will be a natural way of life when we focus on Christ and allow him to do the works through us by his Spirit.

The problem is many people do good works out of a feeling of guilt, or necessity, or trying to pay God back for His gift of salvation. They think their good works will earn them salvation.

First, we need to realize that good works will not earn us more of God’s love, and not doing good works will not take away from God’s love. God loves us no matter what we do. Obviously, we want to do things that please God, but His love for us does not change no matter what. He has given us the gift of salvation because of His love for us.

Next, we cannot do good works in our own strength. It is by His love, strength and guidance that good works happen naturally. When motivated by love for God, and allowing Him to love through us, the good works done will be what is needed at the moment for the person receiving the benefit.

So we see in this that the motivation for good works is important. Are we doing these things because we feel obligated and should be doing something for God? Or are we resting in what He has done and allowing Him to love through us.

Stop trying to be so busy for God; rest in His love; wait for his moving and strength. Then allow Him to touch those you come in contact with throughout the day.

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I grew up in the church being taught that what you do, good works and good deeds, are very important. I’ve never questioned that teaching…until recently.

I began to wonder why works are stressed so much by the church. If we are living by grace, why do we need to worry about what we do?

Of course, after thinking about it and reasoning a while, I’ve come to some different conclusions.

Works, in regard to salvation, are not necessary. No matter what we do or don’t do, it doesn’t change how much God loves us, and it doesn’t have anything to do with our relationship with God.

So many people seem to think the whole Christian experience is based on how much we can do. All this does is put people on higher or lower levels in Christianity than others. Those who do many works sometimes look down on those who don’t do a lot and think lower of them. Those who don’t do a lot look up to those who are constantly busy and wish they could be more like them.

Do we really think people are positioned in God’s kingdom based on how much they do for God? After all, Jesus did all the work. He died so that we could be free and enjoy life in the kingdom.

Jesus wants us to be one with Him and one with each other. We are all equally important members of the body of Christ. When we focus on how many works we do each day, feeling obligated to do as much as we can, we end up being divided in the body of Christ.

In regard to our salvation, works do not make a difference whether we do a million good works or if we don’t do any.

Works make a difference when it comes to showing God’s love to those we meet throughout the day. The bible says to do our good works before men so that they would glorify our Father in heaven.

This type of works happens because of love. The Spirit living within us loves others and does the good works to show that love. There is nothing done out of obligation or rule keeping. When works are done out of necessity, they are basically dead works.

Works done through love by the power of God within us brings glory to the Father and shows His love to those around us.

Works will happen because we love the Father and because the Spirit dwells within us. If our works only come out of obligation or due to rule keeping, we might as well stop right now. If we do good works to earn our salvation, or make us feel like we are doing our part, we should stop and question our motives.

Jesus did all that was necessary and required for us to have a relationship with the Father. We can’t earn it or pay God back for it. We can accept the free gift of grace and enjoy living as one with God. Then let Him love others as His does the good works through us.

As with any part of our walk with God, it is because of love that we do anything. We are to be available anytime, anywhere for the Spirit to work through us.

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What would you tell someone who asked you what a Christian must do to be pleasing to God?

A lot of people would start out by saying we must go to church, we must tithe, we must obey the 10 commandments. They would probably say we have to witness to others and give our money to the poor, and probably even some in the USA would say we must vote republican.

Seems like we Christians are so hung up on works and doing something in our efforts to be pleasing to God. We must do this, we have to do that. If we aren’t going to church we are backsliding. If we don’t tithe to the church we are robbing God. We have all these things we feel we should be doing to be pleasing to God.

I think a lot of the Christian world today has forgotten that Jesus died on the cross to fulfill the Old Covenant. He said “it is finished”, meaning the old covenant had come to an end because Christ, by living a perfect life, became the absolute perfect lamb for a sacrifice that would once and for all provide forgiveness to humans, who in their own efforts, could not live up to the requirements of the law.

I think the real answer to the question what must a Christian do to be pleasing to God is…..nothing! We don’t have to do anything because God provided Grace through Christ. We have become the righteousness of God because after salvation, God sees Christ in us. It isn’t based on what we have done, it is all on what He has done.

We not longer have to try to keep the 10 commandments. Those were a guide, or tutor, to lead us to Christ. We no longer have to go to church because through Christ, we are the Church. We can assemble together with other believers any day, any where. Christ lives in us and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide. We don’t need to look to others for guidance and knowledge. We don’t have to tithe our money because the Old covenant has been fulfilled. We can now give our money out of love and to who and where God is leading us to give. We don’t have to force every encounter with someone to witness to them because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws all men to the Father, and since He lives in us, we can be open to allow Him to work in us how He pleases.

So many Christians today don’t realize the freedom we have in Christ. They don’t understand Grace and the fact that we are no longer under condemnation. We don’t have to do things to be pleasing to God. We now live under the guidance of the Spirit and we do things out of love, not out of obligation and trying to keep rules and commands.

The only commands Christ gave under the New Covenant are listed in 1 John 3:23 where it is written: This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

So many of us live day to day under condemnation because we haven’t done enough for God. We feel we don’t measure up because we can’t do something someone else does, or we can’t preach like someone else can. The fact is, God made us all the way we are for a reason. In the true Church, the body of Christ, we all are equal and have equally important qualities that God can use. No one is on a higher level than anyone else. We are all brothers and sisters and we are all under one person, Jesus Christ.

Stop feeling like you aren’t pleasing to God because of something you do or something you don’t do. Christ has provided Grace for all of us, and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

We can rest in God’s love. We can enjoy daily fellowship with Him because He loves us. We can be assured that we are now in the Kingdom for eternity because of what Christ has done for us. We can stop listening to others who we think are on a higher level than us, or who we think are closer to God. God loves each of His children equally. We are all capable of hearing and learning from the Holy Spirit, who is within us. We don’t have to wait until Sunday to hear from Him, worship Him, serve Him because we are the Church and every day is the Lord’s day.

Stop condemning yourself and look to God, love Him and love others. Let Him teach you, guide you, live through you day by day. There is nothing more you need to do than accept Him, love Him and love others. We are now new creatures in Him. We now live in His Kingdom. Forget the worldly ways and the rules and regulations of religion. Take up your cross daily and follow Him.

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You ever notice how many cars go by with Christian bumper stickers on them?

Seems like it is much easier to show our faith in God by bumper stickers and outward signs that it is by living our life under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When we accept Christ, we receive forgiveness for our sins, past, present and future. We are crucified with Christ, dead, buried and then raised up again as new creatures in Him. The Holy Spirit comes to live within us and God now sees us as holy and righteous because He sees Christ in us. It’s what is on the inside that counts.

Jesus told the Pharisees that the outside of their cups were clean, but inside they were full of dead men’s bones. Hopefully that isn’t the way a lot of us are.

Because of Christ and the Grace He provided, we are clean on the inside, holy and righteous in His sight. Not because of anything we did, but because of what He did. Jesus paid the price, we get the benefits.

There is nothing wrong with being excited about our faith in God and wanting to show it with bumper stickers and various outward things. The main thing is that we take up our cross daily, follow Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to live in us so that the true qualities of Christ will shine out of us.

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We Christians want to be known as followers of Christ. We all go about it in different ways. Most of us feel that if we can preach in public, be a pastor, evangelist, missionary where we can tell others about the Gospel message, we will be known as good Christian people.

Others feel if they can give regularly to their church or programs to help the poor, they will be known as good Christians.

Many will base their identity in Christ on their works and all the good things they can do to show that they are good Christians.

Others will consider how much they can promote how good of a Christian they are, and how much they can condemn those who aren’t Christians.

Basically all these are a waste of time. First, we are saved by Grace, it is a gift from God and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

Second, the only way that Jesus says we are to be known as His disciples is by the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jesus commandments in the New Testament are ‘believe on the one who God sent’ and ‘love others as you love yourself’ (1 John 3:23). When we try mixing the New Testament commands with the Old Covenant law, we are getting away from the true Gospel of Grace and we are getting away from loving one another as Jesus meant.

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I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I don’t want to be someone who is always against something.

Whatever that may be, against this sin or that sin, against particular lifestyles, against a particular denomination or Bible version, all the different ideas and subjects we Christians can get into that end up taking away our main focus….Christ.

Jesus told us in the New Covenant that His commands were to love God and love others.

We don’t have to agree with everyone to love them, we obviously all have our convictions of right and wrong and we aren’t expected to change or give them up. We don’t have to focus on those convictions or try to prove our reasoning to others. We are told to love others no matter what. We are not responsible for converting people, that is God’s job. We are told to love them.

When Jesus walked the earth, He didn’t spend a lot of time with the religious people. He was out with the sick, despised, neglected, and sinners of the day.

I know I did it for a long time, thought I was better than others because I went to church, felt I had to stay away from those who didn’t believe because their sins would rub off on me. I would always hang out with my church friends and stay away from the worldly people.

I would spend more time trying to prove my points and my beliefs, telling people what was wrong and what to stay away from, than the time I spent talking with God or reading His words.

Obviously God calls us to follow Him and that is going to be in different ways for each of us. But to spend more time arguing, condemning, trying to prove what we feel the Bible states, pointing out people’s mistakes and shortcomings, doesn’t really help.

When we begin to understand the freedom we have in Christ, and start living through grace that Christ provided, we can be free to love and accept all those we come in contact with each day. We can show them the love of Christ by allowing the Spirit to live through us.

Don’t worry so much about who is right and who is wrong. Don’t always be against something. Be for Jesus. Be for love. Take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. Let Him be the central focus of your life and allow His love to flow out of you and touch those around you.

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