But to the One Who Does Not Work
There is a true and a false way of reconciliation with God. The true way is singular and narrow, while the false way is wide and varied (Mt 7:13). The true way is willed and worked entirely by God, from beginning to end (Eph 1:11; Phil 2:13). The false way requires some work or works of man. Many have chosen the false way that leads to destruction. The true way is called, “Grace.” The false way is called, “Works.”
The way of works salvation is embraced by religions and cults around the world and throughout history. The flesh of man is fully given over to the false way because man is deceived with the lies propagated by Satan (Jn 8:44; Titus 1:10; 1 Jn 3:8; 2 Jn 1:7). The devil is the author and perfecter of false justification and false sanctification.
Justification by works was assaulted by the truth of justification by faith at the Protestant Reformation (c. 16th century A.D.). As much as that Reformed doctrine remains with us, today, the devil has moved his troops to the battle front of sanctification.
The truth is that Christians are sanctified by the Spirit and the Word of truth (Jn 17:17; Rom 15:16; 1 Thess 4:3, 7; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2). Satan’s false teaching leads people back to works. This time it is in the quest for holiness. Works of obedience to the Law contributed nothing to your justification, and they add nothing to your sanctification (Rom 9:32; Gal 5:4).
Sincere obedience, that is, the earnest attempt at perfect obedience is mythical. God demands perfect obedience and neither sinner nor saint comes close to God’s standard of righteousness (Mt 5:20). God does not accept anyone’s best effort. Only Jesus Christ achieved the fulfillment of the Law (Mt 5:17). Sinners and saints must forsake the flesh and its desire to obey rules, in order to be right or to be holy, as God is right and holy (1 Pet 1:15–16).
The fundamental error (Christ plus something else) is misrepresenting grace, as the enabling power for people to will and to do God’s good pleasure (Arminianism). In this error, grace is given by God so obedient works can be accomplished (even if it is to an imperfect standard). True grace is not of yourselves (Phil 3:3). It is the work of God, exclusively, in the life of His own chosen people (Gal 2:20).
Christian legalists will tell you they are all about grace, before telling you the rules God or they have established for you to obey, by the enabling grace of God. The Law is always demanding some work to do. The Gospel requires that one does no work for life and salvation (Rom 4:5). Here is the scandal of the Gospel of grace. God does all the work (Is 26:12; Phil 2:13), and part of that work is to give His people the gift of faith to believe the Gospel (Rom 12:3; Phil 1:29Gal 3:22; 5:22; Heb 12:2; 2 Pet 1:1).
Do you wish to do something of the Law? Then, the Law will activate all of its requirements for you. It will demand satisfaction from you to the fullest extent. The Law will judge you for every breach. Sincerity is pathetic failure in the face of perfection. You must keep the whole Law or nothing (Jas 2:10).
The Law of God is not abolished. It is in full effect. The fact that Jesus Christ, alone, fulfilled the Law does not mean the Law is no more. It may be obsolete (Heb 8:13), in favor of Christ, but it retains its power to condemn any who attempt to employ it for justification or sanctification.
Do you claim to try your best to keep the Law of love, that is, the Law of Christ? Summaries of the Law of Moses, which is the Law of God, are as unattainable as the whole Law because they are mere summaries of the whole. Will loving, Gospel works win you merit with God? Do you wish to be bound by any Law that will, in turn, judge your performance?
The Law is not done away with, nor is the requirement of each commandment. If the Law demands something, it expects perfect obedience. How do you think that will go for you? Grace says, “He (God) will do it (Ps 37:5).” Can you believe God will accomplish what concerns you (Ps 57:2; 138:8), according to the working of His power? This is the Christian faith. Only Christ will suffice.
The works of man are in direct opposition to the works of God, which includes the faith He has given to you, as His gift from the Spirit (Rom 5:5; Phil 1:29). Faith is not a work of man. Faith is all about not working (Rom 4:5). Abraham believed (Rom 4:3). He did not work for righteousness. Righteousness was imputed to him, and He believed the God who promised (Rom 1:17; 4:9, 11, 13).
Do you have saving faith? Then, God’s works, willed and done, in you and through you, will be manifest (Phil 2:13). False faith works hard to impress men. It boasts in what it has done for Christ. In pride, it works ever harder to gain glory for itself. True faith rests in Christ. It lays hold of His perfection. It boasts in Him alone (1 Cor 1:30). It is jealous for the glory due His Name.
Christian, cease striving. Rest in the knowledge of the fact that the Spirit of Christ is working night and day to ensure Jesus Christ gets all the glory for accomplishing what only He could do. You are in union with Him (1 Jn 4:13), who does all things well. Your task is not to will, nor to do, but to believe in Him, who is willing and working His good pleasure for your justification, sanctification, and glorification (Rom 8:30; Phil 2:13). All glory to Him for the great things He has done, is doing, and will do.
Spokane Valley, Washington
May 23, 2022