11/1/1998 11:00 AM
Many religions today are trying to divorce works from religion. The result of this is that they have a religion that produces nothing, and causes us to ask the question... "What's the difference between a sinning sinner and a 'sinning Christian'?" We are not saved by works, but by the grace of God... and let us note this... we are create unto good works. This is how you can tell the difference between a Christian and a sinner. If there is not a newness of life, a doing of good works, we should wonder about the experience.
The Jews knew the law would not bring about justification. Keeping the law will not atone for your past sins. How can you be justified by Christ and yet sin? This would mean that Christ condones... even was the minister of sin. verses 19-20 We recognize here that a sinless life is not self-righteous, for in and of ourselves we could never attain this, but by the righteousness of Christ we can live sinless.
There isn't any work that you can do that can atone for the wrongs of the past. You aren't "just born" a Christian by the first birth. If you could be there would be no reason for Christ having had to die. You weren't naturally righteous, as it says, ALL have sinned, but... we ARE justified by the grace of God. There's nothing that we (of ourselves) can boast about. WE have not done anything, it is God that has done it and we can boast of what HE has done.
This points to the case of Abraham. His standing with God was based on his faith (especially note verse 3 here)...
James also references the same verse that the apostle Paul referenced. There are a few things to note here... Religion that produces no works is worthless... a claim of faith without a change of life is nothing. If the works you are trying to do are of the law in trying to atone ... it is a worthless effort as you cannot atone for your past sins with works. Abraham's works... as mentioned in both places... are works that resulted from his faith. Faith produces works... it is a natural outflowing of faith. People ought to be able to see a change in your life, not having to base it off the fact of whether or not you wear a cross around your neck or WWJD paraphernalia. An example is the person who gets married and feels they must wear a ring to symbolize that... However, if a married person will act like a married person... all will know that that one is married... without having to have an external symbol to show them. If we are a true Christian... it should show forth in our lives.
Acts 26:19, 20
Some people would say that the apostle Paul preached salvation without works... However... if that is the case then he must have been slightly confused when he was preaching here. He preached that there should be works... that something should be produced. We aren't saved by the works of the law, but faith should produce something in our life. When faith enters the heart it will change the life.
We weren't saved by anything we could do, but there should be a natural outpouring of works of faith. He speaks here and tells them to affirm this saying constantly... what saying was that? To maintain good works. If it seems to some that we are constantly harping on living a godly life... a pure and holy and sinless life... this is why. It is a constant affirmation of maintaining good works. It DOES matter what you do. Be careful to maintain good works. If all the religions of the world were teaching this... think about how much better a place our world would be... if all the religions were maintaining good works. If a religion doesnt maintain or produce good works, it is worthless.