Works, Grace, and Faith

by Doy Moyer

Works won’t save us, but failure to engage in them can condemn us. Likewise, being moral won’t save us, but being immoral will condemn us (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

This is a consistent message throughout Scripture. Salvation is “by grace through faith,” and faith means that we will trust God and seek to do what He says. Even so, it is “not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet, let no one think that obedience is unimportant, for disobedience and disbelief are held as parallels (Hebrews 3:18-19). Failure to obey is a lack of faith, and without faith, there is no pleasing God (Hebrews 11:6).

Grace, then, while beyond our full understanding, is not a “do what you want” license to sin (Rom 6:1-4; Jude 4), and it informs what it means “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” while we await the blessed hope (Titus 2:11-14). Grace makes us zealous for good works even while we know that those works are not earning our salvation. Works are expressions of our faith as we diligently make it our aim to please God.

In other words, “by grace through faith” is meaningful when faith is present, and faith is present when we trust God enough to submit ourselves to His will. The danger in any work we do is that we get puffed up and boast as if we deserve some kind of honor for it rather than to recognize our humble state. As the Lord taught, “When you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10).

God’s grace should spark within us the desire to seek Him, obey Him, and thank Him for what He has done through Jesus Christ. Be reconciled to God!

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
‘In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:1-2)

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