Of Good Works.
Chapter 16, Paragraph 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 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 punishment.”
Isn’t it easy to think of good works as something to check off our “to-do” list? Visit the poor, check! Exhibit joy, check! Pray without ceasing, check! Look at ourselves and see if our works are enough for our standards. Sometimes we compare our standards against what other godly people are doing, and fall into sin because we jealously feel inadequate, or fall into sin because we smugly consider ourselves as doing better and more.
Having a checklist of good works, however, is to view them incorrectly. Good works are commanded, they assure us that we are in the faith and they glorify God, so they do play an important role in our lives. But they in no way gain us any favor with God. These good works that we do are already owed to God. They are what He commanded in the first place. The massive debt sin incurred crushes any chance of us paying it with our works. Even though they proceed from the Spirit, our good works are also done in bodies that still have remaining corruption. Thus they are defiled and would disintegrate in an instant if offered up as an atonement. Our good works are not what put us in right standing before God.
There can be no boasting or comparison when it comes to good works. So you do more than your Christian neighbor? So what! You are only doing your duty. It is impossible to go above and beyond what God requires; therefore, it is impossible to demonstrate any spiritual superiority by our good works.
Don’t compare your spiritual walk to other Christians. Instead, compare it to Scripture. You will see how far short your works come in meriting anything from God, and you will see how much you owe Christ for what He has done for you. Throw out the checklist, and walk in the works prepared for you.
Questions to Consider
- Have you found yourself comparing your works to other Christians? Whose standard should you follow?