It is my contention that Jesus Christ wants us to work with what He’s given us. When we don’t, we disobey Him, and we also disrespect the Gospel.
Works don’t and cannot save us. We are saved by grace through faith. This saving faith raises us up to newness of life where we are equipped to fulfill the true righteousness of the law.
However, these works of righteousness are not automatic, we have something to do with it. We are to work out what He has worked in us.
Upon saying this, there are two frequent objections.
1) You are trying to perfect yourself by the flesh.
This comes from Galatians 3. However, Galatians is about people going back to the OT covenant Law of Israel to achieve perfection. Primarily they sought this by circumcision and Sabbath keeping.
No one here is telling you to go under the Law, to be circumcised, nor to keep the Sabbath. Galatians goes on to say we are to fulfill the law of Christ, which is love, demonstrated by bearing the burdens of others.
This is what Christian virtue is all about. It’s the new life in Christ–no longer slaves to sins but servants of righteousness. No longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.
2) You are enslaving yourself to the law!
There is a notion within, at least American Christianity, that freedom means “the ability to do whatever you want.” Although this may be a notion of freedom, it is not biblical freedom.
Biblical freedom is freedom from the law that condemns and kills. Biblical freedom goes further and explains that we are now slaves of righteousness. This new slavery to righteousness, is actually true freedom! We can finally do what pleases God!
For the believer this is untold joy and peace! For the unbeliever, this sounds horrendous. I cringe when I hear professed believers say that serving Christ is bondage. They are missing the point.
There are plenty who teach that life in Christ means you can do what you want and get away with it. They promise liberty, they sound charming, but in the end, all they do is bind you and enslave you to stupid.
There is a reverse legalism at work with these libertine teachers. They make you feel bad for wanting to do good. Good works are suddenly one of the worst things you can do. You are always in danger of falling into bondage to works righteousness.
Which, I mean, how ironic is that!? If nothing matters, why are they always so panicked about people wanting to do good?!
For many of these folks, hearing that someone wants to do good is perhaps the worst thing they can hear. It seems they’d rather you admit to being a crack whore than saying you’d like to give more money to church.
In the end, people like sin. Like, a lot. They also like to feel good about themselves. Since this isn’t possible by sinning and listening to God, they like to surround themselves with people who sin.
Since we’re all sinners, none of us has to feel that bad about it.
Unfortunately, this does a great disservice to the power of God available in the Gospel. Gospel living is desiring and then carrying out good works, all summed up in Love.
Desiring to do good and doing good are never bad. Ever. Don’t buy the stupid doctrines that attempt to prove otherwise. They are wrong.
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.