For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).
"Legalism is an attempt to make ourselves more acceptable to God by the deeds we do...The Spirit enables us to do the duty to which the Bible calls us. It is not an attempt to make ourselves acceptable to God, but it is to live in the empowerment of God in a way that pleases Him...Hearing the Word without doing it, professing it without practicing it, singing 'Jesus is King' and pleasing myself is an indication of the fact that I have never truly trusted in Christ. And therefore, we must examine ourselves and run afresh to Christ." - Alistair Begg from False Teachers Among You Series (Part 3 of 3)
We Cannot Earn Salvation
Nothing we do can earn God’s favor. We cannot earn salvation by our own self-perceived “goodness,” our good works, or a lifestyle change, for we are saved by grace through faith alone. Even our repentance and faith do not originate from ourselves. They do not come by personal merit, human achievement, or our own strength so that we may not boast, except in the Lord. so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). Rather, genuine repentance and true saving faith are gifts by God’s grace, and all the glory belongs to Jesus for our salvation."You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary." - Jonathan Edwards
Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. When we repent (turn from our sins) and turn to Jesus, good fruit and holy living become a natural by-product of saving faith in Christ. This is evidence that we are children of God and born again into His living hope. We are not saved by good works, but we are saved to good works. We are saved by faith alone but it is not a faith that is alone. “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” – Martin Luther. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?...So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:14,17).
True faith in Jesus naturally stirs up good works in believers by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:16-17). Good works do not come from our own striving or willpower. Rather, believers are empowered to walk in a manner that’s pleasing to God, all because of His grace. It's His grace that saves us, and it's His grace that also helps us walk in His ways. It's His grace that gives us the ability to carry out good works in His name, for the purpose of His will and all for His glory. Just as He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:5-6), He also predestined the good works in which He would have His children walk in, by grace through faith. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). That being said, the faith that saves is a faith that manifests itself through our actions, the fruit we produce, the way we live. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18).
True Faith Obeys
Obedience to God’s Word is a natural byproduct that results from having real faith in Christ. When we trust in Jesus and His goodness for our lives, we naturally desire to obey Him. This is not because we can earn His favor by our good works but because we believe in Him as our Savior and desire to submit to Him as Lord of the universe. It's because we know and trust that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). It's because God's grace has inclined our hearts toward Him, put His Spirit in us, and given us a new nature through our second birth. This new nature includes a growing love towards righteousness and all the things that God loves and a growing hatred toward sin and all the things that God hates.
A growing love and obedience to God's Word is simply the outward evidence of inward faith in Christ. True saving faith is not some mere intellectual agreement of the historical facts of the gospel or just a mental assent that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. Even demons believe that and shudder (James 2:19). That's only a cheap grace Christianity called "Easy-Believism," which is just another one of Satan's layers of deception that runs rampant among many evangelical circles today. It perverts the grace of God and turns it into a license to sin. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (Jude 1:4).
Rather, true saving faith is when we trust in God's character and integrity; who Jesus is and what He accomplished for us on the cross when He said, It is finished (John 19:30). We trust that Jesus was fully man and fully God and the perfect substitution for our sins. Jesus paid the fine in full so that we may be saved from God's eternal wrath and be granted eternal life, by grace through faith. Out of His love, Jesus did what we could never do for ourselves. He lived a perfectly obedient life to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). For our sake, the One who knew no sin became sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus took the fullness of God's wrath on Himself on the cross, died and rose again, so that we may be saved from our sins, transformed into new creatures, and granted eternal life, by grace through faith in Him.
This magnificent truth will naturally cultivate a deep gratitude and joy in our hearts and bring forth a real desire to walk in His ways. Certainly, our obedience is far from perfect for as depraved as we are, but He reminds us that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). It's His grace that gives us the real desire and ability to obey Him because He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance in heaven (Ephesians 1:14). God has put His Spirit in us so that we may obey Him, not so that we may live to please ourselves still. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules (Ezekiel 36:27).
Jesus is in Control
When Jesus is in control of our lives, the results are a habit of pure living, not a habit of sinful living. Although believers will still struggle with sin in this life as we battle against it on a daily basis, God’s grace keeps us from ever falling away indefinitely or from living in unbroken patterns of ongoing sin, as we lived before our conversion. God's grace simply won't allow us to freely swim in sin, as we once did before we came to saving faith in Jesus. Once we are saved, we are always saved and forever secured by God’s grace. He will never allow us to go back to the broad and easy road again. We are completely secured on the narrow path, by His grace. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:28). And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
The grace of God is not given to believers so that we may go on sinning and living however we please as if we don't believe in Him. But rather, it's so that we may have the power by His Spirit to choose that which is good, right, and true and bring Him glory. Whenever God's children stumble off His path, He will discipline us in love, and the Holy Spirit will gently convict us and guide us back onto His path, for His Name's sake. God’s grace is given to believers so that we may glorify Him and carry out good works in His name, which He prepared before the foundation of the world for us to walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
I am Not Religious. I am Saved by Grace.
I am not religious. Doing good works and practicing rituals can't save me. Rather, I am saved by grace. My faith in Jesus is a gift. Jesus set me free from my sins, transformed my life, and gave me the tremendous gift of eternal life by His grace. He saved me from what I deserve, eternal hell, and He gifted me with what I never deserved, eternal life. How could I not want to submit to the God of the universe who did that for me?
May I live for the One who died for me (by His grace) and praise Him for all that He is, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). I am eternally grateful for my Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him forever and ever.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2).
❤️ With love, Jenna