I am preaching through the Book of James and this week I start the topic of “Faith and Works”. What a challenge as I do NOT want to guilt people into a “works righteousness” that is just another gospel…not the pure Gospel of Christ. So where do I start? With Christ and who I am in Him:
Who in the world am I? The marketing geniuses say I am “A Marlboro Man” or the sensitive man who runs 10 miles a day and buys flowers for my wife. I am also the one who works too hard yet needs the Jaguar or Mercedes car to be “complete”. The woman is the one who, “brings home bacon, fries it up in a pan and never forgets to tell me I am her man.” Life can be confusing as the world tells us “who we should be.”
Yet the reality is the church can be just as confusing. “You’re not a real Christian unless you listen to ‘xyz’ type of music.” “You’re not a Christian unless your hair is a certain length.” “You’re not really worshipping God unless you wear the clothes I approve.” To be a real Christian, “you must read the Bible daily, give 20% of your income and teach at all opportunities.” “You must obey the rules that God and I have put before you.”
These are the things we do to each other. Paul says we’re “preaching/teaching another Gospel.” Not the pure Gospel of Christ, but one that says, “Christ plus something.” Christ plus my works so that God accepts me and keeps me or so that you accept me. We believe that salvation is by grace and we live as if our Christian life is now up to my works and effort. We try to relate to God (be accepted by Him) through rules and not through Christ. Yet our righteousness is found in Christ alone. It is His righteousness we have, not our own (2 Cor. 5:21). We can stop trying and just be. Steve McVey says in his book, Grace Rules, “Until a person knows he has died to the law, he will attempt to relate to Jesus through the law system. That will never work. God’s primary concern is not our doing, but our being [italics mine].”
When we grasp the real idea that we are born-again, we know that our old self died! We are a new creation and we now live in Christ and Christ in us (2 Cor 5:17 &
So who am I? I am a child of the living God and made right, whole, perfect in Him. Nothing can take that away and I can’t add a thing to what and who He is. I can quit trying and so can you!