Psalm 25:4-5 ESV
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.”
Never Rock the Boat?
Why is it important that we know the ways of the Lord? Can’t we just live a “good life”? Can’t we just be people who do good deeds for others? Wouldn’t God be pleased with us if we were just “nice” to everyone? And, then everyone else would like us, too, because we never “rock the boat”? – because we never say or do something to disturb an existing situation?
What do you think? Is that your picture of God? – A God who just wants us going around being “nice” to people and doing “good deeds” and never “upsetting the apple cart,” i.e. never disturbing the status quo, i.e. never upsetting or disturbing the way things are now?
You know, many people think of God exactly in these terms. It is very popular now to see God in a more laid back role, just hanging out with people, being their buddy, or being their “genie” in the sky there to grant their every request.
Many people have this image of God as one who does not “make waves,” i.e. as one who does not disturb the status quo, but as one who just loves on everyone and accepts them just the way they are, no matter what choices they make in life for good or for evil. And, so they expect us to follow suit, which is why you may often hear them say, “Stay in your own lane.”
But, is that God’s way? If not, then why not?
Born into Sin
Well, because of the sin of Adam, the first man, all have sinned against God and all of us come up short of attaining God’s approval and his divine righteousness. We are all born into sin, with sin natures, separate from God, and unable within ourselves to be approved by God or to be righteous in his eyes. Not one of us can do anything to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our good deeds will never outweigh our bad deeds (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:8-9).
So, what can we do? Do we need to do anything?
By Grace Through Faith
The Bible says that it is by God’s grace alone, through faith, that we are saved from our sins. Both his grace to us and the faith to believe in him, though, are gifted to us by God. For, this is not our own doing. No amount of being “nice” to people or doing “good deeds” will save us from our sins or will ever be enough to meet with God’s approval of our lives (Eph. 2:8-9).
But, that doesn’t mean we do nothing, that nothing is required of us. It is just that the “doing” is now in the power and strength of God’s Spirit alive within us and at work within us in conforming us to the likeness of Christ. For, verse 10, which is often skipped over, says,
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
So, just because good works, done in our flesh, can’t save us, and we can only be saved by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, it does not mean that good works are not required of us. It is just that they are God’s works, not ours, and that they are done in his power and strength, and according to his purposes and will, and in obedience to his commands, and in submission to his will and purposes.
But, his good works are not altogether like ours. There may be some overlaps, like he wants us to help meet the legitimate needs of others, where we are able, but as we are led of the Spirit. And, he wants us to be kind to people, and to put on love and compassion, etc. But, his works are done in the power of the Spirit, and according to the will and purpose of God, where our works are done in the flesh, according to what we decide.
So, good works done in the flesh do not save us. But, we are saved to be doing (walking in) good works, done in the Spirit, according to the will of God and in his power and strength, and under his guidance and direction.
Do you see the difference? It is important that we do!
What is Faith?
Ok, so we now have many people who are going around saying that we are saved only by God’s grace, through faith, which is true. But, what is faith? That is the big question. Well, it is God-given, and literally it means to be persuaded, i.e. to be persuaded by God. So, if it comes from God, and it means to be persuaded by God, then what do you think that faith should look like? Do you think God would have you continue in your sinful ways?
Well, the scriptures give us much detail on what that faith should look like, but first of all, if it comes from God, and if it is persuaded by God, then it is going to be in submission to God and to his will and purposes for our lives.
So, it will die with Christ to sin, and it will be changed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and it will now walk (in practice, in conduct) in holiness and according to the Spirit of God, and not according to our sinful flesh. For, this is what it means to be saved from our sins (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14; Lu. 9:23-26).
So, God determines the good works that we are to walk in, that he had prepared in advance that we should do. And, doing them is part of our faith that saves us. But, we don’t get to choose them. We don’t just do “good deeds” expecting God to approve us. We have to surrender our lives to him, and we have to learn His ways, and then we have to walk in them, and no longer walk in the ways of our flesh, if we want to have eternal life with God (Rom. 2:6-8; Gal. 6:7-8; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Rom. 8:1-17).
Disregarding the Scriptures
But, going back to my opening remarks. There are many people who believe that we are saved only by God’s grace, through faith, but then they misinterpret what that faith is, and how it should operate, and what it should look like. For, they feel they are free to continue in their sinful practices, now that they are under grace, and that heaven is guaranteed them regardless of how they live their lives on this earth.
And, then they accuse walks of holiness, purity, honesty and righteousness as being works-based salvation, when that is not what they are.
But, then they will promote “good works” as equal with “sharing the gospel,” or they will promote them as being like Jesus in going around doing good. But, “good works” as they choose them, not as God wills and as he chooses, although, again, there may be some overlaps.
And, so what we have ended up with is a society of people who call themselves Christians and followers of Jesus who disregard the teachings in scripture on the subjects of repentance, obedience to God’s commands, and surrender to Christ’s Lordship, who are still operating in the flesh, and who are determining for themselves what the Christian life should look like. And, so the “good” that they do they do in their own strength, according to their own will and purpose, and according to man-made religion.
What our Lord Wants
But, what our Lord wants for us is not our works that we are willing to do for him, and it is not false confessions of faith in him which are not followed by obedience, either. For, His truth and his ways are determined by him, not by us. And he says we must die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with him in heaven.
For, he didn’t die just to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven, but he died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness. For, our salvation isn’t just a ticket into heaven, but it is deliverance out of our slavery to sin and it is empowerment of God to now walk with him in holiness, purity, honesty and faithfulness for the glory of God and in the strength of the Lord, and under his guidance and direction.
And, walking in the Spirit, and doing the good God prepared in advance that we should walk in, doesn’t mean just being “nice” to people or doing good deeds for others, as determined by us – this is not to be considered “sharing the gospel” with them.
For, walking the walk that Jesus walked means we will “rock the boat,” and we will “make waves,” and we will “upset the apple cart” and we won’t “stay in our own lane.” For, we will do what Jesus did, and we will say what he said, and we will tell people about judgment and the wrath of God as well as tell them about the love and grace of God.
And, we will teach God’s grace as instruction in living righteously, and in not living according to the flesh. And this is because we love God, and we are called according to his purpose, that we will speak the truth in love to people so they may be saved. Thus, we won’t stay in our own lane (Tit. 2:11-14).
When I Was Walking
An Original Work / January 16, 2020
When I was walking along the way,
My Lord was with me, and He did say,
“My child I’m with you. I hear you pray,
‘Oh, help me, Lord! Need You today!’”
He is my friend, near to the end.
Gently leads me. His servant be.
He helps me pray – knows what to say.
He’s all I need. On Him I feed.
When I am wond’ring of what to do,
He gently leads me to what is truth.
He is my helper. He strengthens me.
When I’m in want, supplies my need.
He comforts me with all His love.
Gives me His grace from heav’n above.
I heed His call to watch and pray,
To guard my heart throughout each day.
When He is calling to come to Him,
To let Him lead you, trust Him within,
How will you answer to Him today?
Will you say, “Yes, Lord, have your way”?
Do not neglect to let Him in,
Cleanse you from sin, made new within.
Leave all your sin, obey your Lord,
Trust in His Word – His mighty Sword.