Last Year I preached the sermon, God Created You To Be A Good Works Machine. In that sermon I said that the good works are not for salvation, but because of salvation. There is debate about the importance of works in salvation. Must a person have works along with faith in order for a person to be saved or is salvation by faith alone with works following? James says, and I believe rightly, that salvation is by faith alone, and that the faith that results in salvation will be proven by works. Here is what he said;
James 2:14-20 (NKJV)14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
Our problem is that we perform these works in our own strength and when we do that we are in danger of burnout (See the Burnout series on this blog). However the good works that God has prepared for us are the result of the seed of the fruit of the Spirit sowed in you at salvation.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The fruit of the Spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit's presence and working in the lives of believers. As we mature the fruit becomes more developed.
Most of us think these good works are: attending worship services, praying regularly, studying Scripture, giving generously from our financial resources, joining a small group, going on mission trips, caring for the poor, working for justice for the oppressed, loving our neighbors, etc. These are certainly among the good works that God has prepared for us, but when we do them in our own strength we face burnout. Then our works become religious activities. The works that God has prepared for us are to be done though the Holy Spirit. When we allow ourselves to be filled by Him, the works become a life and not a lifestyle.
Ephesians 5:15-21 (NKJV)15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Resist ministry burnout by relying on the Holy Spirit as the source of your strength.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NKJV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (emphasis mine)
The Source of Our Strength
Dr. Charles Stanley tells us how in one of his devotions.
Titus 3:4-7 (NKJV)4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The Christian life is just that—a life, not a lifestyle. Sadly, a lot of churches preach Christianity as a list of dos and don'ts. Then faith looks like a formula: Jesus' saving grace plus doing good things minus doing bad things = righteousness. Most of us have enough problems without worrying about whether we're following the extra-biblical rules of one church.
A man-made formula for righteousness runs counter to scriptural teaching. In fact, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for such heavy-handed religion (Matt. 23:1-4). He, on the other hand, offered liberty through grace. Neither keeping God's Law by self-effort nor adhering to extra rules makes a person free. Legalistic believers are in bondage and growing ever weaker.
When a person accepts the saving grace of Jesus, he or she receives a new life (Rom. 6:4). This is not an uptight lifestyle of doing good works. A believer is a changed person—same body but a transformed mind and heart. Christ lives through you. His Holy Spirit flows into your spirit as sap runs in a grapevine. It's like getting a spiritual blood transfusion! Strength pumps into places where weakness once prevailed. Why rely upon your frail self when the courage and power to follow God's will is available through Christ?
I know what it feels like to burn out from trying to do good in my own strength. My desire for you is that you'll surrender to the Lord. Depend upon Him to change you from the inside out, and trust that He will. Jesus is your life. He will never get tired of transforming you.
Taken from "The Source of Our Strength" by In Touch Ministries (used by permission)