Overcoming Sin through Christ: Lack of Good Deeds

Lack of Good Deeds

Overcoming Sin through Christ

A Comprehensive List of Sins

(Alphabetically Arranged)

Richard Hollerman
The plan of this study is simple.  We will look at a large number of sins, one by one, alphabetically.  We will define the sin, describe it, and comment on it, along with noticing Scripture references on the particular entry.  Some illustrations will be offered along with the description.

Lack of Good Deeds

Scripture says that good deeds are one of the chief characteristics of the faithful child of God who is walking in the light.  We know that salvation is “not as a result of words, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9), but we also know that “we are His [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (v. 10).  What is the place of good words or good deeds and what are their limitations?

Jesus frequently emphasized the importance—even the essentiality—of good deeds.  In the great judgment scene, Jesus says to His followers on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).  And these “righteous” ones will go away “into eternal life” (v. 46).  The Lord tells them that they receive the kingdom because they were rich in good deeds, extended toward Christ’s “brothers”[1][1] (vv. 35-40).  Those on the left of Jesus who go into “eternal fire” and “eternal punishment” (vv. 41, 46) are ones who failed to be actively involved in good deeds (vv. 41-46).  We can’t be saved on the basis of our good deeds, but we are saved by faith that must be manifested in good deeds!

Through the New Testament, we are reminded of how vital it is that our faith express itself in deeds for the good of others (cf. Romans 12:9-21; 2 Corinthians 8-9; Galatians 6:9-10).  Paul said that he always kept in mind the “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope” of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:3).  In writing to Titus, Paul emphasizes good works in many ways.  He says that the false teachers are “worthless for any good deed” (1:16).  He tells Titus, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds” (2:7), and God has purified a people who would be “zealous for good deeds” (2:14).  Titus is to remind others “to be ready for every good deed” (3:1).  He tells Titus to “speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds” (3:8).  Finally, he tells this young man, “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful” (3:14).  Indeed, good works are not optional!

Lack of Good Deeds

But we must be sure that we understand the inherent inability to be saved by our good deeds.  While they are essential (as an expression of saving faith), they are not the basis or grounds of our salvation.  Christ Jesus is the only means of salvation and He became Savior through His sin-bearing work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead (cf. Romans 5:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 1:7).  We respond in repentant faith to the crucified and risen Lord and Savior, and this faith is a living and active trust in Him (John 3:14-18, 36; 5:24; 11:25-26; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:24-26; 5:1).  This faith must demonstrate its reality by obeying the Lord (John 3:36; Hebrews 5:9; 10:36; 1 John 2:17) and engaging in good deeds.  Thus Paul speaks of “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6b).

For various reasons, many or even most people overlook the importance of good deeds and fail to actively do good deeds.  Some may think that doing good deeds detracts from God’s grace—but, in fact, these deeds are God’s grace at work in our life.  Others may fail to understand what good deeds God is interested in, and these people need to study to understand what God has revealed in His Word.  Still others refuse to acknowledge that works are necessary in order for genuine faith to be manifested.  This is the point of James’ long discussion of the subject in his letter (2:14-26).  He says, “Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (v. 17).  He also says, “I will show you my faith by my works” (v. 18).  James continues, “Faith without works is useless” (v. 20).  He then reasons, “As a result of the works, faith was perfected” in the case of Abraham (v. 22).  He writes these startling words, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (v. 24). He concludes, “Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (v. 26).  Indeed, good deeds are a demonstration of the faith that saves, thus deeds (or works) can be said to justify.

In all likelihood, one of the main reasons why people neglect doing good works or good deeds is a failure to take God seriously and a failure to be grateful for God’s rich grace and lavish love.  If God says that we were “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10), we should believe this and live according to this truth.  If Scripture says that we are to “be ready for every good deed” and must “be careful to engage in good deeds” and are to be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 3:1, 8; 2:14), then we need to believe this and act on it.

Jesus gave the parable of the two foundations at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27).  He commends the wise man who built is house on the rock for this represents the one who “hears” Christ’s words and “acts on them” (v. 24).  He expected His hearers (and it could be His “readers” in our day) to receive His words or His teachings and actively obey them.  He expected people to do His will and do His deeds.  Will we?  Will we take Him seriously?  Will we see that our “faith without works is useless” (James 2:20)?

 

[1][1] This is “a reference most likely to Jesus’ disciples and by extension all believers” (ESV Study Bible, note).  See also Matthew 12:46-50.

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