Quick Thoughts, xii. Humility Demanded in Our Deeds

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8-10).

To a particular extent, it is easy for most of us to grasp that our salvation is not to be credited to us. We understand it was Christ Jesus who died and who lived righteously that we might be righteous before a Judge who is holy and just and therefore demands perfection. And whether we credit our faith to God or to our own free volition, most of us recognize that apart from Christ and faith in him there is no salvation, and therefore we have no cause boast, except, as the apostle Paul declared, in the cross of Christ (cf. Gal. 6:14).

But what of our religious and righteous deeds after our salvation? Do we have reason to credit our own personal volition or to glory in our own sanctification? No, not at all. For Scripture declares that it is the Holy Spirit who not only began in us the good work of salvation, but it is he who finishes it (cf. Ph. 1:6). Furthermore the apostle declares elsewhere that in the Church–in those who are called by God, among them there are appointments of different measures of faith so that no one should “think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Rm. 12:3). And it is by the Spirit, not by our selves, that we are commanded to put to death the deeds of the body (cf. Rm. 8:13), and it is God who has prepared beforehand good works for us to walk in. Therefore our question and our answer must be just as the apostle’s: “What then becomes of our boasting? It is excluded” (Rm. 3:27).

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