by Mike Ratliff
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NASB)
There are two extremes that Christians must avoid at all costs. The first is over confidence in one’s own ability, which is pride in its positive form. This causes believers to rely on their own abilities to do “good works.” The other extreme is to become paralyzed into inactivity because of pride working in its negative form. It tries to resemble humility by proclaiming things such as, “I’m not sanctified enough to do that sort of work.” Both are attitudes of pride and are in rebellion against God.
When we talk about our own ability to do good works then we are not relying on the Grace of God to work through us to do His will. All that is accomplished is empty works that are designed to be a sign to everyone about how spiritual we are. This is rampant in the 21st Century Church. As a result, we have neo-Evangelism with its golden calf of easy-believism evangelism at all cost, leaving the work of the Holy Spirit and the Bible completely out of the process. It is all man-made religion and it does not bring God glory.
When we talk about our own inability to do good works and follow that up with by doing nothing as a result, we are insulting our Creator God. When we say we are incompetent to do a certain work that is laid before us to do then we are proclaiming that God has overlooked us in our sanctification and gifting. This is slandering God.
When we say this sort of thing to men it may sound humble, but when we turn that around and speak it to God then we are actually telling Him that He is incapable of changing us and enabling us to do good works. This defiant attitude is a huge insult to our gracious God.
So what is the right way to approach this? What should our attitude be toward God when we have an opportunity to serve Him? The correct way to do it may actually sound prideful to men, but to God it is the essence of a humble spirit and attitude before God that results in Him working through us to accomplish His will. We start by thanking God that He has saved, sanctified, and equipped us to do good works. Men may see that as pride, but it is humility in action. Genuine humility agrees with God about all things. That includes things about ourselves. Then we must abandon ourselves to God showing that we believe Him to be true. Those that do this must never hesitate and be concerned about what other people believe about it. In fact, many people may misinterpret our actions and words as pride, but what they are really seeing is a genuinely humble Christians fully relying on God as they obey Him in all things. Instead of being driven by what people think, these Christians are being lead by their Saviour, the Good Shepherd.
Instead of being all wrapped up in trying to please people, the genuinely humble believer is concerned only about their relationship with their Saviour. It is the only one that truly matters. When Christians do this they let everything else go as they cling to their Saviour at all costs. It is these believers that God uses as He fulfills His purpose through their lives.
God works through a remnant. There are innumerable professing Christians in the world, but the tares are rampant within that body. However, there is the wheat within. This remnant is of priceless value to God’s purposes. We must ask ourselves if we are part of this remnant who lives for God’s glory alone in all they do. If we are honest with ourselves and see that we have some holes in our walk then now is the time of repentance.
If God is calling you to humble service with your life then you must repent of your rebellion and defiance and move forward in humility with Him. If you do that then you will become that one of priceless value to His purposes as you walk before the face of God in genuine humility by His Grace and for His Glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!
“God works through a remnant.“ It’s true the our Sovereign God decrees both the end and the means…..and in this way does work through us.
As for “Works” we have this reliable text…..which hopefully applies to us even today.
2Ti 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works
There is good doctrine summary….(mostly neglected) written in the old Westminster Confession of Faith. Sorry it’s a bit long but worth quoting since I doubt many have read it. I don’t think it can be said better than this, but your encouragement to all those of faith to see themselves as “throughly furnished” and get going is a good point.
Of Good Works
1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.
2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.
3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
4. They who, in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.
5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.
6. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.
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