Grace and Works
The Kingdom of God is very different from the kingdom of this world. Our fallen human nature is conditioned to measure success by performance-based goals. These goals could be strict, self-imposed disciplines or rules enforced by a legalistic religious institution. Unfortunately, these systems have little to do with grace and everything to do with works-based acceptance.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. — Matthew 11:28-30
Breaking free from this endless cycle of works-based acceptance is foundational for spiritual growth and maturity. Only when a believer in Christ begins from a place of acceptance, will they begin to cultivate genuine fruit of the Spirit. Just as no tree can work hard to produce fruit, no believer can work hard to practice the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, etc). Only when people are nourished by the living water of Jesus will they naturally be able to produce the fruit of righteous living. The fruit is evidence of where something or someone is rooted. Jesus said, apart from me, you can do nothing (John 15:5) and understanding God’s grace is the essential first step in knowing you are connected to the source of true life.
You don’t get the fruit of the spirit by trying to be more loving, more joyful, or move peacefully… the Fruit of the Spirit is a natural byproduct of your intimate relationship with God.
It all starts with Grace
Only when a believer truly understands that they are powerless to save themselves, does the gratitude for what Christ has done for them become a reality. Every man-made religious system in the world, every false religion today, is made up of people working to make themselves right with God. When people work, their wages are not a gift but payment for their efforts. Instead of man climbing the proverbial mountain to gain access to God, Christ descended from Heaven to do for you what you could never do for yourself.
No amount of good works can compare to the divine blood that was shed for you to pay for your sins. This is why Christ took your punishment so you could be set free from the law of works and have a new relationship with him. Grace is a free gift so you can be declared righteous and walk in the confidence of your new relationship with God from now and for all eternity. But you have an adversary who wants to distort God’s free gift and keep you in the bondage of ‘earning’ your salvation. These two systems, God’s way, and man’s way are in stark contrast to one another and are essential to understanding your true identity and walking in your ultimate calling and purpose.
Two systems prevalent in the mind of people today
The Foundation of Grace
The Foundation of Grace begins with the understanding that God did for you what you could never do for yourself. God’s free gift of forgiveness is extended to everyone who puts their faith in him. Significance is rooted in God’s love for us as adopted and holy children of God – this is our new identity in Christ. Sustenance for the believer is finding total contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday experiences with Him. The greatest achievement for those established on the foundation of grace is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as Christ loved us.
The results of living in God’s grace:
- Walking according to the Spirit
- A life marked by spiritual growth, maturity, and peace
- Abandoning outcomes to God
- Recipient and extender of God’s Grace
- The fruit of the Spirit — Christ-likeness
- A life committed to obey and please God
The Cycle of Works
For those caught in the endless cycle of a works-based system, achievement is the beginning of defining your self-worth and identity. Sustenance is rooted in fear of not being good enough and comparing yourself to others. Significance is based on performance-based goals while neglecting the everyday character and intimacy that Christ requires of followers. Acceptance for the individual is recognition from others but is limited to your “last performance.” Unfortunately, the cycle of works too often resembles those inside the church who do not understand their true identity in Christ — a people stuck in works-based salvation, which is not salvation at all, but the world’s way of making you feel like you’ve accomplished something that Christ has already done for you. God is not opposed to effort, but he is opposed to earning.
The results of living in works-mode:
- Walking according to the Flesh
- Making projects more important than people
- Controlling behaviors
- Critical and judgemental of self and others
- The fruit of the flesh — Anger, frustration, jealousy, strife, etc
- Live to please man
Are you carrying the easy yoke or caught in the endless cycle of works?
We have assembled a downloadable reference guide for you to download, print, and study. This guide will highlight the vast difference between an individual flourishing in the grace of God from those caught in the endless cycle of works, trying to earn their right standing (acceptance) with God and others. Take the time to download and study this resource. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).