In many cases believers find themselves going back and forth between grace and works as if the two are mutually exclusive. Somehow we can’t seem to grasp the fact that the two can coexist and even thrive together. But only if we have them in the right order and from the right source. If we work for God without first entering His grace, our work will be carnal and polluted and we have no hope of salvation.
Carnal Work Will Not Save Us
No amount of our own work can save us. And God will accept no “good work” if we do it in the flesh. However, if we enter His grace, but do not allow His strength and purity to produce good works through us, we have missed the point of our spiritual existence.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – ESV
Spiritual Birth & Spiritual Work
So when we were born again, or as it is put in the verse above, ‘created in Christ Jesus,’ we received some jobs that God had already prepared for us. We were spiritually created for spiritual work. But even though it is called good works, it is not a tedious labor as we view work in the natural. Rather, these are things God has already structured and put in place—we just need to walk in them!
Sometimes we stumble at this because it completely removes our own merit from the equation. Before we have laid our whole selves on God’s alter, we have an ego that needs stimulation. We need to feel as if we are contributing something. This leads to competition amongst the saints and to burnout, when we realize we cannot do spiritual work in the flesh.
After we realize this, many of us pause and reflect. At this point we can choose to either do things as prescribed by the Bible, or we can go in the other extreme and think grace is all we need in the Kingdom of God.
Entering & Advancing
The thing is, grace is only a means to enter the Kingdom. After we have entered let’s not be like the slothful servant who buried the one talent his master gave him. Or become lukewarm like Laodicea which Jesus threatened to spew from His mouth because of their lukewarm state. Not that works is the only indication of a heart on fire, but I have yet to meet a person truly in love with Jesus who is yet unwilling to do His bidding.
It can all seem like a complicated balancing act, but the only thing that makes it complicated is our flesh. With this being the case, should we not then kill the flesh every time it tries to revive? We have a need to die daily—and sometimes multiple times a day. To lay ourselves on God’s alter as a living sacrifice. It doesn’t matter how often we need to do it; it is completely worth it. With our flesh crucified, spiritual things become clear and simple. And spiritual works flow from us naturally through the power of the Holy Spirit.