THE DISCIPLESHIP SERIES
There should be little doubt that we are now living during a “How to” generation. There are titles from “fill in the blank “for Idiots” to sayings like “just do it.” Personally, much of what is said, while it can be sad at times, does not affect me a great deal because the world is going to do what the world does. However, in the Church, Christians are called to live according to the dictates of God’s holy Word.
There is one overarching principle that should govern every born again repentant believer that is part of Christ’s body, and that principle is that works are to proceed from FAITH. As my title states, FAITH WORKS. There are three kinds of works referred to in the Bible. The first kind is GOOD WORKS.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for GOOD WORKS, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). “In all things show yourself to be an example of GOOD WORKS, with purity in doctrine, dignified” (Titus 2:7). The second kind of works referred to in the Bible is DEAD WORKS.
“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,” (Hebrews 6:1) “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from DEAD WORKS to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)
Dead works are something no Christian should partake in any longer. We are to move on from the dead works that enslaved us in our ignorance before we became partakers of Christ. The Christian’s conscience should experience cleansing from dead works. The third kind of works referred to in the Bible is evil WORKS.
“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in EVIL DEEDS (WORKS)” (Colossians 1:21) “for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his EVIL DEEDS.” (2 John 1:11) Evil works should usually be evident to a person with a renewed conscience. However, there are cults and false teachers who go about proclaiming a false Gospel of which Pauls says in Galatians chapter 1, twice, that they should be accursed or incapable of being redeemed. Such is the curse upon all those who substitute EVIL DEEDS in the name of GOOD WORKS.
The only principle by which to live for the child of God is FAITH. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, the epistle that conveys SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE as no other letter in the New Testament, begins his teaching after the introduction with the following warnings.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who BELIEVES, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from FAITH to FAITH; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Romans 1:16, 17) In two verses, the Apostle uses the words FAITH and BELIEVE four times.
There is a preoccupation among evangelicals today to focus upon spiritual disciplines. Reading your Bible, praying, fellowshipping with other believers, witnessing to the Gospel is essential to spiritual growth and good works. However, discipline does not produce faith; faith produces discipline.
There is a line, which is not apparent, and if crossed to obtain holiness will result in dead works. The line between GOOD WORKS and DEAD WORKS is sometimes obscured by demonic cleverness. I am not saying that anyone who teaches spiritual disciplines is proclaiming another Gospel, far be it from me to write and say such a thing. However, I am painfully aware of the enemy’s tactics and how capable he is to distort the best intentions of God’s ministers and destroy God’s work in His people. Not ultimately but partially.
Paul understood the devil’s abilities when he wrote to the Church in Corinth. “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ, I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” (2 Corinthians 11:2-4)
There is too fine a line between self-discipline and dead works, which can easily capture the heart of young believers. The end is walking in the flesh by self-effort instead of walking in the Spirit by faith and love. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:16, 17) The problem with self-effort is there is not sufficient liberty to guarantee victory because the eye is no longer on Christ as the sufficiency. Hence, FAITH!
For this reason, Paul correctly laid down the order that obtains victory, and it does not even include discipline, nor is it ever included in his writings. “For we through the Spirit, BY FAITH, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but FAITH working through LOVE.” (Galatians 5:5, 6) Piper got it precisely correct when he illustrated a man’s lack of love when giving his wife flowers out of necessity or mere rote. It would kill the moment and maybe much more.
Therefore, my dear readers lay aside the DEAD WORKS that can enslave you and embrace a loving relationship with the Lord Jesus. In this way, you will be motivated to spend time with Jesus, and all that means from a sincere FAITH that will capture your heart and set you free to love Him genuinely. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
THE THINGS THAT WILL ULTIMATELY HURT THE MOST WILL SEEM AND LOOK VERY GOOD, BECAUSE THEY ARE, BUT IN THE END WILL ENSNARE, ENSLAVE, AND BECOME YOUR IDOL.