We have only a short time in to believe the truth, while we are here on earth. We can read our bibles, pray, fast, and do all kinds of wonderful religious works, and still be lost and on the broad path that Jesus warns about.
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it – Matthew 7:13-14
If we are looking to our works as to how holy and righteous we are before man, where is Christ? Isn’t this the reason why Jesus gave up His heavenly throne to save lost man?
Pride is our downfall, and still is today? We are blind to trust Christ alone, which all comes down to unbelief in the good news of Christ. We still want to add some form of works, because it seems right unto man’s carnal mind. However, the bible gives us many warnings.
12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death – Proverbs 14:12
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity – Matthew 7:15-23
The will of the father is for us to believe on Jesus Christ for everlasting life.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day – John 6:40
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was – 2 Timothy 3:1-9
Timothy is saying that there are men that will have a form of godliness (those who trust in works), but deny the power of the finished work of Christ. They are always learning but can never come to the knowledge of the truth that we are completely set free from bondage when we trust on Christ alone for salvation. Their folly or foolishness will spread to other men and the simplicity of Christ is corrupted so that the truth is ill spoken of, and even hated, so it is very important today to learn the scriptures for ourselves so that we are not deceived by man.
1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of – 2 Peter 2:1-2
It seems ‘holy’ and ‘righteous’ to add works, but how can we be ever born again in God’s kingdom if we never trust in Christ alone for salvation. If we don’t believe the words of Jesus Christ, we obviously don’t believe God. Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us that it is by grace that we are saved, not by works. It is the gift of God so that man cannot boast.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them – Ephesians 2:8-10
Jesus gives us rest. He says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. This is why it is important to rest in His salvation, because there is absolutely nothing that we can do of our flesh sinful nature to merit eternal life?
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light – Matthew 11:28-30
However, many Christian denominations teach that it is Christ who saves, but then add works to ‘prove’ salvation occurred. Some even say that you need to work at salvation, but there is absolutely no rest in working for salvation because how much work is necessary? I’ve met my fair share of self-righteous ‘Christians’ who looked down on me and judged me because I wasn’t doing this or that, I still had an addiction, I wasn’t dressed right etc. I know I’m the lost one and there is nothing I can do to change myself. All of this condemnation that I placed on myself was because I was listening to people who were giving me a false message. I felt suicidal. It was not good news, but rather if I didn’t live right, or do this and that, I wasn’t saved, or I could lose salvation. Fear is not of God and I am grateful to God for giving me discernment even during these difficult periods amongst these people where I just thought God would strike me down dead. I hadn’t yet grasped God’s grace because no one had taught me the true gospel that saves, or perhaps I had already trusted and then gotten scared with the false messages.
The fact is that when it comes to sin, we all sin every day. We sin in thoughts, through our tongue the things we say, and the ways in which we are toward others, so our actions are often sinful when we act in hate or anger. I am very impatient with drivers on the road, so this is one of my struggles. I can set off feeling calm and merry in the car, but then a selfish driver does something to create an instant wrath in me. I had absolutely no control over it, so yes I fail daily when it comes to serving God. James in the following scriptures is speaking to born again believers.
1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace – James 3:1-18
The Christian who says that he or she does not sin is a liar, and the truth is not in him or her.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us – 1 John 1:8-10
The bible makes it clear that we still have the old man (sinful nature/flesh). Our bodies are not yet redeemed to that of perfection in Christ.
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin – Romans 7:13-25
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds – Colossians 3:9
Jesus gives us victory over sin, but we must be born again first and we become born again into God’s Kingdom only by accepting Christ and trusting on Him alone for eternal life. This is what biblical faith is. Not what we can do, but to accept the gift of God who loved us enough to save us from eternal separation from Him.
We cannot ‘repent’ from sin before we are born again, because this is an added work and any works of our flesh discredits the grace of God. If we have been born of parents who taught us to ‘be a good person’ then the truth of the Gospel can be offensive to many, because who wants to acknowledge that as natural men and women we are sinful and evil, but the Holy Bible says we are.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one – Romans 3:12
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? – Matthew 7:11
There is no hope for me without Christ. I fail everyday. I judge, I hurt I am ashamed, but God still loves me despite my falling short of His perfection.
Biblical repentance, by the way, is a change of mind as to the way we see ourselves in the eyes of a Holy God, knowing that our flesh is dirty and no works of the flesh can ever save us. We need a saviour in Christ, and God gives us the gift of salvation in Christ, who IS perfect. This is biblical repentance in changing our beliefs from self righteous works that we ‘believe’ will save us (taught by the world’s religions today), and trusting on Christ alone, who died for this entire world, but especially you and I. Truly, the Christian walk is one of faith in God in the flesh, Jesus Christ and Him alone. He kept the laws perfectly. He fulfilled the works of God and the Will of God. Renewing our mind daily can help us to grow in grace, as we remember who we are in Him. Nothing of ourselves, all of Him. Jesus get all the glory.
Pride can make us stay in our destructive dead ways trusting in Jesus plus the addition of works, because we ‘need’ to show others that we are pious and holy, but don’t focus on getting the praise of men and women of this world. If you know that you have trusted on Jesus Christ for salvation, instead forget about trying to prove yourself to human beings and focus on doing works for God in secret where God will reward you in His time, and give all Glory to God. It is because of His righteousness that we can even perform any good works to favour His kingdom here on Earth and in Heaven. When we focus on Jesus, instead of what we are doing or not doing for God, we gain victory over flesh. Little by little as we grow in fellowship with God as believers, the new man is renewed and the spirit starts to grow in strength. It is up to us to either feed the flesh, or the spirit?
Whether we remain carnal Christians, or grow in maturity through the milk of God’s word, this has no standing on our eternal salvation. Do not let any man or woman put you back under bondage in making you ‘prove’ that you are saved. When you trusted Jesus to save you, you trusted Him. That is enough for God to seal you with the righteousness of Christ. You ARE born again when you have trusted in Christ alone, so don’t let ANY human being put you back under bondage to look at your self and your works. Serve God out of love for what He has done for you and you will find that there is peace and joy in serving God instead of fear. God gives this world the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and He alone must get all the glory for our salvation.
In Matthew 7:21, notice that Jesus was speaking to those who thought they were saved, but instead of boasting in what Christ had done for them, saving their sinful flesh from eternal separation from a Holy God, they boasted of their works before Christ. He never knew them, because they never truly trusted in the finished work of Christ. This is what we must come to believe. Are we trusting in Christ or Christ and part works? Jesus said that there is only one way to the Father, and it is through Him.
When I think of growing in grace, I think of the fruits of the spirit that Paul describes in Galatians 5.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another – Galatians 5:22-26
Are we growing in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance as born again believers? This is evidence that we are walking in the spirit. Compare these fruits of the spirit with the common self-righteous fruit inspectors who are constantly looking for fruit in others to prove salvation, but fail to take the log out of his or her own eye.
Another tremendous scripture I recently noticed as evidence of growing in the spirit is in 2 Peter.
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – 2 Peter 1:3-11
Paul is telling us to add to our faith, virtue, then knowledge, then temperance, then patience, then godliness, then brotherly kindness, and finally charity (love). Paul says, if these things are within us, and abound, they do not make us unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Remember, trust in Jesus Christ first for salvation, where you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and born into God’s kingdom, and thenwe should serve God out of gratitude and not fear, but this has no standing on salvation, because Paul clearly taught that we can be saved by fire — this means that believers will go to heaven but will not earn rewards because of the way they lived on earth. Don’t let these self-righteous ministers on the radio, TV, and in church buildings put you under any bondage of works for salvation. It is a free gift of God, so accept it with joy and thanksgiving, resting in Christ alone. Then and only then when you have rest in Jesus you can choose to walk in the spirit and serve God, which will earn you rewards in Heaven.