Contrasting the religion of works with the gospel of grace
In the pursuit of righteousness before God, pangs of guilt and doubt clouds our understanding of our relationship with Him. We are far more prone to understand God based on our own terms, or experiences, or what seems fair.
When these questions begin to enter our mind, perhaps the first question we need to ask is, “Who placed them there?”
God not only leads and directs our lives, but he places thoughts into our conscious mind for those who don’t know Him yet. Sometimes they come from the words of others. Sometimes they come from a book or movie. Left unresolved, those thoughts can quickly dissipate into the normalcy of life.
A believer in Christ receives opportunities to decipher for others what God teaches in the Bible vs. what the world promotes. The religion of good works is the default faith, yet it is in stark contrast to the teachings from the gospel of grace. To be righteous before God and fully reconciled with Him is not about what you do, but rather who you are — a new creation.
Here are a few comparisons:
A religion of works says, “Do this and you shall live.” The gospel of grace says, “Live and you shall do.”
A religion of works says, “Pay me what you owe.” The gospel of grace says, “Your debts have been forgiven.”
A religion of works demands holiness. The gospel of grace gives holiness.
A religion of works says, “Do.” The gospel of grace says, “Done!”
A religion of works says blessings are a result of obedience. The gospel of grace makes obedience the result of blessings.
A religion of works says, “If.” The gospel of grace says, “Therefore.”
A religion of works says salvation is earned. The gospel of grace says salvation is a gift.
A religion of works says God is my co-pilot. The gospel of grace takes us out of the cockpit.
The religion of works believes that we are competent to define our own spirituality outside of God. The gospel of grace places our competence in Christ alone.
The religion of works places performance ahead of the verdict. The gospel of grace receives the verdict before the performance.
Reconciliation with God does not depend on performance. Righteousness that is acceptable to God is not based on human effort, but receiving the warm embrace of His forgiveness.
Satan’s greatest tactic is to try to convince people that God cannot be trusted to keep His Word. This is especially true when the storms of life occur. But it is in the difficulties that God provides – that trust in God’s promises are forged. God knows that anything cherished in our hearts that are contrary to the will of God will cause us to fall before our enemies. God uses storms to expose and root them out.
The soul who deepens their trust in the promises of God receives assurance that they will never be put to shame. A deeper trust in God realizes that if He is for us, than no storm is beyond what we can bear because Jesus is in the boat with us. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. The One who is in our boat is far greater than the one who is in the world. After the storms have passed and the light of day finally appears, we see that God’s hand has been involved in everything.