WHERE DO GOOD WORKS COME IN?
1 John 1:5-10:
Horrible people like you and me (if we're honest, we have to admit that we're all pretty horrible deep down inside) have been reconciled into relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Because of God's great love and the richness of His mercy He saved us from our own sinful natures. By His grace, through faith in Christ we can live a good life. We're not saved by living a good life, otherwise we'd have something to boast about. The good works come only after salvation.
If anyone could boast about living a good life it was the apostle Paul, yet even he recognized that relationship with God through faith in Christ is what it's all about. Verse 9 talks about the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. The good life of the Christian differs from the "good life" of the rest of the world in that our good life is an inside-out process of God displaying His life through us, whereas others are trying to change themselves from the outside in.
Living faith is not the result of good works, but it does result in good works. If your faith is being perfected (matured), then you will be living a good life that puts the life of God on display through you. Such living faith causes others to recognize the life that's in you as emanating from God. Faith without such good works is dead faith.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21:
The good works we do as Christians flow out of our relationship with God. His love constrains us to live as ambassadors for Christ, part of which entails demonstrating the righteousness of God to all who would care to observe it. God is not some cosmic task master trying to make us work for our spot in heaven. All He wants is relationship with His creation, and once we let Him get in close enough to introduce Himself to us, He starts changing us from the inside out till we start to resemble Him in every fiber of our being and every aspect of our doing.
As Christians we must always focus on inward change, not outward conformity. We must be driven by heart-felt conviction, not habit-forming ritual. We must always be found in the strength of His Spirit, not in the weakness of our flesh if the beauty and loveliness of the divine nature are to be stamped on our spirits, changing us into the very image of Christ. Then good works will flow like a river out of our innermost being!
- Stephen T. Kia, 8/23/01