This is the first part in our Lenten Series: The Third Death-Outward Marks of the Inward Life in Christ. Good Works
In our study of the outward marks of the inward Christian life, we identified 5 marks that have been known throughout church history, Prayer, Study, Worship, Duty, Mercy. Another way of wording these marks of the Christian life is…
Why does the Christian do good works and what is the motivation behind good works? To put this in a proper biblical context we have to understand the difference between justification and sanctification.
Justification: The one time act of God where a human life is redeemed by God’s grace through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Sanctification: The life of the Christian after justification where God is setting us apart for service in His Kingdom.
Justification and Sanctification must always remain separate. Your Justification is not dependent on your sanctification and good works do not add to, create or take away your justification. You are secure in Jesus. We use a legal term to describe this.
Imputed: To ascribe a quality to something or someone that does not have that quality by virtue of a similar quality in another.
When someone is justified by grace through faith, they are still them: flesh, mind and spirit. But what has changed is how God reckons that person. Jesus Christ’s righteousness is imputed upon the individual so, it is not their own righteousness that God sees (which is considered dirty rags apart from Jesus) but Christ’s righteousness that covers over all of their sin.
Think of it like a US Dollar bill.
The US dollar bill is, in and of itself, simply paper and ink, not worth anything at all, easily thrown away. But it receives or is imputed value by the value of the US economy, that is what gives that dollar bill it’s worth. This has to do with ownership. Who owns the dollar bill gives to it it’s value.
Before Jesus Christ, we were owned by sin, death and the devil, with the corresponding value that was imputed to us by those entities— eternal separation from God. In faith, our ownership changes and now we belong to God because Jesus Christ purchased us with His very body and blood. Who you belong to, whether sin, death and the devil or God, changes how you live.
Think of it like how people act on a sinking boat and a trustworthy boat heading home.
Characteristics of those on a Sinking Boat
Characteristics of those on a Trustworthy Boat
Panic, fear, can’t fix it, we’re all going to die!
A every man for himself kind of attitude.
Peace, safety, contentment, we’re going the right way!
How can we bring everyone on the boat!
When you know who you belong too (and what kind of boat you are on) it changes your attitude and how you live. This does not mean that Christians never have anxiety, panic or fear but we also are given peace, safety and contentment in the midst of all of that.
God has already given us this boat in Jesus without our good works. God’s kingdom has already come in Jesus without our good works. God’s will is already accomplished in Jesus bringing salvation to the world, without our good works. God has already and still is accomplishing all of His salvation work without us. But the question is, now that you are on the trustworthy boat, how will you live?
In the Lord’s prayer we acknowledge that God’s Kingdom has already come and His will is already done, but we ask that His kingdom come and His will be done to, in and through us as well.
That leads us to ask the questions: what kind of conduit do I want to be for God’s Kingdom and Will to work through me? What kind of worker do I want to be on the boat to participate in what God is already doing? Do I want to be helpful or a hinderance?
Think of these passages:
Philemon 10: I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus,whose father I became in my imprisonment. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.)
2 Corinthians 5:9: So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
I Corinthians 3:10- According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled[b] master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.
Ultimately what motivates us is love. God’s love for us and our love for God. God’s love for the world and our love for the world.
We love God so we want to be a good worker in His kingdom. We want to be helpful and useful, not a hinderance in the kingdom. We want to please our Lord with our life.
That is why we do good works.