After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?—Galatians 3:3
The Christian church has always struggled to get the balance right between faith and works. Romans is the great book on “faith,” while James is the great book on “works.” I know some Christians who never read the book of James, taking sides with Martin Luther who called it a “book of straw.” Martin Luther may have been right about many things, but he was wrong when he referred to the Epistle of James in this way. We need to study both Romans and James if we want to be properly balanced Christians.
The difficulty with faith and works is this: we come into the Christian life by depending on Jesus’ innocent sufferings on Calvary as sufficient ground for our acceptance with God, and then when we learn the principles of Christian living, we turn from dependency on Christ to dependency on them. This was the great problem in the Galatian churches, and it is still a problem here in the church of the current century. Bringing forth the fruit of repentance by good works is terribly important, but we are not to depend on works for our salvation.
We tend to focus more on works than faith because it is something visible and tangible. We can see what we are doing and assess it or measure it. Faith is different. It requires of us a degree of helplessness (something the carnal nature detests), but if we are to know God better and avoid falling into the trap of pursuing godliness more keenly than pursuing God, then faith must be seen as the primary virtue.
O Father, help me get this right. I am saved to good works, but I am not saved by good works. Prevent me from falling into the trap of being more preoccupied with Your principles than with You Yourself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Eph 2:1-9; Gl 2:16: Rm 9:32
What did Paul remind the Ephesians?
What did he emphasize to the Galatians?