I still remember how horrible I felt that night when I was a young Christian, as the preacher related his stories at the close of the sermon. He had been talking about the Lord’s ability to instantly free the believer from sin’s hold on their life. He told us story after story of people who had been in bondage to all sorts of sinful behaviors who, upon coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, were immediately freed from even the faintest yearning for what they had recently been so passionate toward. “That man had smoked for over 30 years”, this preacher proclaimed, “And when he came to Christ, he NEVER had the desire for a cigarette again!” The boisterous “Amens!” and “Hallelujahs!” that filled the sanctuary after these words were spoken led me to believe that maybe I was the only person in the entire congregation who still struggled with sinful desires!
Many of us have heard accounts of people getting saved and being instantaneously delivered from an addiction or sinful desire that they have had most of their lives. I have no doubt that this does sometimes happen (I must confess that I personally have never met such an individual, but I take the stories told to me in good faith), but it seems to me that this is not the normal way that the Spirit of God operates in the lives of His people. The record of Scripture as well as the everyday experiences of those Christians who have confided in me enough to be completely candid about such matters testify to the fact that true holy living is usually something that takes place over time. When we come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the guilt of our sin is immediately wiped away and our position with God is changed in a single instant. But the ability to break some of our stubborn sinful habits is something that only just begins at that point.
I believe that the preacher who talked about those people instantaneously freed from their sinful desires that night was intending to do nothing but glorify the mighty ability of our precious Savior to free those who will put their trust in Him. But it made me seriously wonder why God would do that for some folks while others of us continued to struggle and flounder with the same sins over and over. Many students of God’s Word have been puzzled by the 20th Chapter of Genesis, asking why in the world is it even in the Bible? It looks so much like the events recorded back in Chapter 12, when Abraham and Sarah were in Egypt, and is so similar to what is later described in Genesis 26:6-16, that some scholars have suggested that the three accounts are all based on a single event and that a scribal error explains the redundancy. But when we truly understand mankind’s fleshly nature, there really is no puzzle at all. Honestly, I am glad that this chapter is in the Book of Genesis because it tells us that even Abraham was not beyond repeating the same sin more than once. We may not all have been instantly freed from our sinful desires when we received Salvation, but we are certainly in very distinguished company.
Abraham’s deception of Abimilech in Gerar is recorded right before the conception of Isaac (Genesis 21:2). It was necessary for Abraham to deal with this sin and get it out of his life before he could receive all that God planned for him to have. We may take comfort in the fact that Abraham apparently did not learn from his sin the first time in Egypt; in fact, we see that this ruse was a common practice that he and Sarah engaged in as they traveled about (v.13). But we must also realize that the time came for them to deal with this sin and get it out of their lives before God’s plan for them could go forward. So it is with us. We may struggle with the same sins again and again, and God is merciful to forgive us when we confess them to Him. But until we deal with them and trust in Him to free us from those sins, we will never receive all that He has intended for us.
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published February 10, 2010]
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:12-13)
In Romans 8:13, we come to one of those seemingly paradoxical statements in Scripture. Right at the tail end of a passage informing us of what the Spirit of God can do through us, we are instructed to mortify the deeds of the body. How can this be? The Apostle Paul has already lamented in the last chapter over the ongoing struggle between the believer’s New Nature, with its desire to obey God and do that which is good, and the Old Nature that remains within us, with its animosity toward the things of God and inclination to gratify its own lusts. We have already been shown that self-effort is utterly worthless in bringing our flesh into subjection so that we might fully obey the Lord. Yet now we are being admonished to mortify the deeds of the flesh?
Herein lies the element of co-operation in the ongoing process of Sanctification. Sanctification, like Salvation, is wholly the work of God in us; but unlike Salvation, Sanctification requires a certain amount of effort on our part. No, it is not our effort which accomplishes Sanctification (we can in no way make ourselves holy), but we are called to mortify, literally to put to death, the sin that we practice.
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (Colossians 3:5)
In a similar passage, Paul again describes the mortifying of sin which we lived and walked in before we knew God (Col. 3:7). He implores the believers in Colosse to “put off” anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy communication (v. 8), in short, to put off the Old Man with his deeds (v.9). Instead, we are told to “put on” the New Man (v. 10). The way the language is used here, the “putting on” alludes to the putting on of clothes. We are told that we have changed outfits, so to speak, and are now wearing a brand new set of clothing.
It is the Holy Spirit Who provides the new clothes that we are to put on and walk in, yet it is up to us whether or not we choose to wear them. God has graciously provided that which we never possibly could in that He has not only saved us from the penalty of sin, but from the power of it. He has given us the ability to choose to obey Him and, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, overcome the temptations that ensnare us. He has given us the ability to choose, but choose we must. We are empowered to say no to sin’s temptation, but never forced to do so. It is up to us which suit of clothes we are going to wear.
Therefore, we are called to put to death, to lay aside, to put away the sinful deeds that we practiced before we came to Christ and commit them no more. The Greek verb in Romans 8:13 translated mortify is written in the present tense. It is something that must be done continually, not something that is done once and for all. So often we get the idea that we can pray for deliverance from temptation occasionally and that should carry us through. We feel that the hour or two we spend in worship each Sunday morning will keep us sanctified all week long. But the decision as to which nature we are going to actually walk in is one that we must make daily, if not more often. Will we follow the Holy Spirit and obey Him, mortifying the deeds of the flesh and walking according to the New Nature? Or will we continue to live as debtors to the Old Nature, having come to faith in Jesus Christ yet living as if we hadn’t? God has given every believer the power to obey, but we must continually choose to do so.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)
Verse 1 of Romans 8 tells us that there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Verse 2 tells us why. Chapter 7 of Romans revealed to us in no uncertain terms the great dilemma of the Christian life lived out in the natural strength of the believer. Though the born again spirit which God creates on the inside of everyone who comes to faith in Jesus Christ has not the desire nor inclination to live according to the old fleshly nature, neither does it possess the ability or strength to live according to the new nature. It is the sad and woeful realization of the newly converted Christian that he simply cannot walk after the righteous yearnings of his regenerated heart for he finds, as did the Apostle Paul, that the will is present yet the capability of how to do so is not (Rom. 7:18).
Even though the early walk of many believers is characterized by the ups and downs of the spiritual mountaintops and carnal valleys of vacillation between both natures, old and new, the declaration of no condemnation to those in Christ strikes down as a resounding hammer any notion that the child of God shall forfeit his position through sin and transgression. Salvation in Jesus Christ, once obtained, is not tentatively retained based on successful adherence to a set of rules or laws but is firmly and resolutely possessed based on nothing more nor less than the faith of the believer and the faithfulness of his Savior. Eternal Life is never secured by means of the imperfect abilities of the one being saved but is secured by the perfect proficiency of the One Who is saving.
No condemnation whatsoever exists for the one truly trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of which nature within them is currently winning the struggle. Even so, there does exist a way in which the child of God may be free from that miserable cycle of sin and self-deprecation inherent in the Christian life attempted in one’s own strength. And that way is to let the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus supercede the law of sin and death.
God never intended the believer to live the Christian life but intended the believer to let Him live the Christian life through them. It is the Holy Spirit Who accomplishes the righteous expectations of the Law through the child of God fully yielded to Him. The Spirit of the Lord, indwelling the Christian, has the power and ability to manifest a life in accordance with the desire of the new nature; a life that pleases God and overcomes the unconverted sinful nature of the flesh which abides with us until we enter His Presence in the age to come.
Romans 6 demonstrated the reality that the law of sin and death cannot be repealed, though it can be superceded. The everlasting punishment for the sinfulness of man abides upon each and every person unless they come under the authority of a higher Law; a Law which brings Eternal Life rather than death to those trusting in Christ. Now, in Romans 8:2, we are shown that not only is the penalty of sin abolished for the child of God, but the power of sin’s lure can be likewise eradicated by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)
No section of the book of Romans is perhaps more mysterious, more enigmatic than the Seventh Chapter. Continuing in the same manner begun in Chapter 6, the Apostle Paul continues to interweave the theological with the practical, moving skillfully between timeless truths and temporal considerations.
As we looked at before, the initial 5 chapters of Romans concerned themselves nearly exclusively with the believer’s Justification in Christ, his Salvation provided solely and freely by the grace of God and acquired by faith alone. We find not instructions to do and act, but to believe and trust. Chapters 6 through 8, however, move from the regeneration of the lost sinner to the sanctification of the saved child of God. In addition to trusting and believing, we found calls to action, words like reckon, yield, and obey in Chapter 6 – words that compel the Christian to a newness of attitude and behavior.
But if Chapter 6 was all about what we can do in the process of Sanctification (that process whereby the believer moves from simply being declared righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ to actually living a holy life, pleasing to God), then Chapter 7 is all about what we cannot. In Chapter 6, we were counseled concerning our new relationship to sin and how it is, in reality, without the power and authority over those in Jesus Christ that it once held before we knew Him. Sin is no longer the master by default of the born-again soul; our bondage to sin has been broken.
Even so, the testimony which we encounter in Romans 7 chimes with a resounding resonance that pierces the conscience of all who are trusting in Christ. The analogies comparing man’s subjection to the Law of Moses with the marriage contract and the relationship of Sin itself (at times personified and endowed with a will and power all its own) to that Law seen in the first 14 verses give way to a moving and all too universal “autobiography” of the Apostle Paul concerning his own struggle with sin since coming to Christ. What sincere believer fails to relate the dilemmas described herein to their own experiences with God?
As much as we are ashamed to admit it, we have all failed and fallen into certain temptations, no matter how strongly we desired not to. Every Christian has endured the agony, the sting of guilt that tortures our inner man as we have looked back with regret and disgust, ripped apart by sorrow at the realization that we, too, have done that which we “would not” and failed to do that which we “would.” The desire to do good is ever with the child of God, yet oftentimes how to perform that good evades us.
When comparing Romans 7:7-7:25 with most of Paul’s writings, one thing stands out very clearly. The characteristically humble Apostle writes more in the first person here than usual. The pronouns “I” and “me” occur more in this passage than we find elsewhere as the tone becomes personal and reflective. This is at once touching and moving as we are given a rare insight into the Apostle Paul’s own evaluation of his personal walk with the Lord, yet the presence of so many self-references also clues us in to the reason for this struggle as well as the remedy for it.
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25)
Conspicuously absent from the testimony given in Romans 7:7-7:23 is any mention of God Himself in the equation. We see merely a portrait of the redeemed and regenerated Apostle Paul, alone, struggling against the power of sin that still claims a foothold in his flesh. The Holy Spirit, Who will take center stage in the Eighth Chapter, is not mentioned at all.
Many commentaries on the Book of Romans identify Paul’s “autobiography” here in Chapter 7 with a certain period of his life, usually shortly after he encountered the Lord Jesus on the Road to Damascus. Having received the new nature which desires to please God, it is suggested that Paul set out to serve and obey God in his own strength, only to fall flat on his face. His heartfelt cry, “O wretched man that I am!” and his subsequent realization that the Christian life can only be lived out by the Spirit of Jesus Christ living His life through the believer is seen as a turning point in his life and ministry. While this is very likely accurate, I believe that the Apostle recognized that, far from being merely a bygone episode in his life, any occasion where any Christian fails to rely on the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to overcome the power of sin in his life will inevitably result in this very same condition.
I think that, more than just sharing the experiences of his own early Christian walk, Paul is teaching us all that, apart from the Spirit of God, we cannot overcome sin’s power in our life. Yes, the admonitions of Romans 6 to reckon ourselves dead to sin, to yield ourselves for God’s use, and to obey that form of doctrine that was delivered to us need to be heeded; but, in the end, it is God indwelling the believer Who will provide the power necessary to overcome the struggle with sin.
God did not save us only to leave us to attempt to overcome the temptations of sin in our own power. It cannot be done. God alone can deliver us from this body of death and sin, not us. We previously saw that Salvation is the work of God alone and now we see that Sanctification really is, too. We can desire, resolve, commit, and dedicate ourselves to holy living all we want, but until we recognize that only the Spirit of God can empower us to overcome sin in our lives, we will never make it past the dilemma of Romans 7:15-23.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,
(The following is taken from the e-book, “How To Find Peace With God (Answers From The Book About Salvation).” If you missed the first part of this series, please Click Here. If you would like to receive the entire e-book (in PDF format), please write me at email@example.com)
Committing To The Lord
“…Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19c)
A young man fell deeply in love with a young woman. He cared for her very much and his love and passion led him to work tirelessly in order to provide a secure future for her. The day finally came when the man asked for her hand in marriage and, to his great delight, she accepted his proposal. With tears in her eyes and a joyful smile brightening her face, the woman expressed her feelings toward the man, her enthusiasm for the life they would share together nearly overpowering her ability to speak, her voice cracking, her heart pounding, as the emotion overwhelmed her.
The man and his bride were surrounded by their closest friends on the day of the wedding and the ceremony was lauded by all in attendance, the tremendous love shared between the couple filling the atmosphere in and around the altar, overflowing into the sanctuary and lighting upon the guests, stirring every heart with jubilation. The vows were exchanged, the union pronounced, the kiss was shared. Music filled the church and applause erupted at the wedding’s conclusion as the newly joined couple, filled with exultation, made their way to the building’s exit, eager to commence their new life together.
As they made their way to the waiting limousine, the vehicle that had been arranged to whisk the happy pair away to their honeymoon, the bride stopped a few steps away from the car’s back door, now held open by the chauffeur. Turning to her new husband, the woman looked into the man’s eyes and said, “I love you with all my heart and am so grateful that you love me enough to do everything you have done to provide a wonderful life for us, but I am going to go back to my own home now. I am glad that we are married, but I would like to just go on living my life the way I have been living it before we ever met. When I am old, after I have experienced all the things this world has to offer, I will be ready to settle down and live with you. If anyone ever asks, I will make sure to let them know that you are my husband, but I would like to go on dating other men in the meantime; I don’t want to miss out on anything.”
Obviously, this scenario is completely absurd. Would the husband (or anyone else) really take the woman’s devotion to him seriously? Even so, there are countless people who have entered into just such an arrangement with the Lord Jesus Christ. They may not be as candid as the woman in this illustration, honestly expressing their intentions to the Lord as she did to her new husband, but the end result is identical. They accept the “proposal”, make some vows, enter into a relationship, and then proceed to live their lives as if nothing has changed whatsoever.
Somehow, many people have gotten the idea that being a Christian is all about saying a few words, going through some sort of ceremony, and maybe attending a church. The proverbial altar call is seen as the totality of what a commitment to Christ involves. As long as a person can point to a certain instance in their life when they came to the front of a sanctuary, mouthed a few words, maybe cried a few tears or hugged and shook hands with some church leaders welcoming them to the family of God, then their status with God and eternal destiny are forever sealed. That God might expect a more sincere and tangible commitment from them is incomprehensible.
While an initial decision to follow Christ is a very crucial part of our relationship with Him, it is no more the entirety of the Christian life than a wedding ceremony comprises an entire marriage. That moment in time when we first come into relationship with the Lord, when we answer His calling, surrendering our rebellious hearts to the God Who loves us, is a door through which we enter, a threshold over which we cross leading us into a changed life, a life where everything becomes new (2 Cor. 5:17).
Salvation is not about something we say, but Someone we trust. Christianity is not about reciting a few lines, or repeating a prayer, it is about a relationship. It is about a genuine faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Being saved comes by believing on Him, not by going through certain motions in front of a church congregation and proceeding to live however we choose.
How Much Can I Get Away With?
I once saw the question: “How Much Can I Get Away With And Still Go To Heaven?” written across the front of a little boy’s t-shirt. While such a motto might be cute when applied to a rambunctious toddler, it is completely and utterly nauseating when applied to an adult claiming to be a follower of Christ. Nevertheless, this exact approach to life is practiced by countless people who claim to belong to Christ everyday. They aren’t wearing t-shirts or adorning their cars with bumper stickers that so bluntly and honestly reveal their philosophy, but their actions and attitudes declare it to be so. Though they profess a devotion to the Lord, their lifestyle belies their words.
The opinion prevalent in many churches is that all God really expects from a person is the recitation of certain high and noble sounding platitudes, a “prayer” dictated by someone else, followed, perhaps, by membership in that particular church and a precise adherence to a certain preferred method of Baptism. The most devout and “sincere” Christians are not those who demonstrate the most Christ-like behavior, bearing the fruit that our Lord said would be present in the lives of those who follow Him (John 15:1-8), but those who maintain the highest profile in the congregation, those who are the most outspoken and prominent, with the most frequent attendance at services and, of course, those who give the most monetarily.
That there is any expectation of a change in a Christian’s attitude and behavior has become so far removed from the typical denomination’s doctrine that any call to holy living is seldom even mentioned. Oh, the preacher might deliver an occasional sermon that ever-so-slightly touches upon the idea that the believer ought to be more diligent in ridding sin from their life, advice that is received with a nod of the head and given with a wink of the eye. But a genuine admonition to let the Spirit of God cleanse us from all that offends Him is almost completely absent from most pulpits.
Christ is preached, not as our Lord and God to Whom we owe our obedience and allegiance, but as Someone Who can improve our quality of life and smooth out the path we ourselves have chosen to walk on. The concept that the Lord Jesus would call for us to change our lifestyle when we come to Him, walking on a new path altogether, is a topic seldom broached. Sin is rarely really dealt with and holy living is scarcely seriously advocated. Warnings that God judges sin and that even the believer faces certain consequences for their iniquities have almost become taboo topics in the Church.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)
It has been observed that the problem for most Christians is not that they continue in sin so that grace may abound, but because grace does abound. We have stressed the mercy and grace of God in our teachings to the point that the judgment and justice of God is largely ignored. In an effort to throw off the chains of legalism from our parishioners, freeing them from the burden of attempting to earn their Salvation through strict obedience of God’s Commandments, we have unwittingly given the impression that licentiousness is condoned.
Make no mistake, as we have already discussed at length: Salvation comes by the grace of God, NOT the works of man! But this does not mean that the Christian is free to pursue sin with reckless abandon, secure in their Salvation, living as they please. Just because deliverance from an eternity separated from God has been freely given to us, this in no way alleviates our responsibility to follow our Lord and obey His commands. Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And what are the Lord’s commandments?
“…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
When a person is in Christ, their walk with Him is not about keeping a set of rules and regulations; it is about obeying Him because they love Him. We obey our Lord, not because we must obey Him in order to be saved, but because we love Him and want to please Him. This distinction makes all the difference in the world. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and we obey Him out of our loving gratitude for what He has done for us.
The Test Of Our Obedience
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4)
Being saved means that we are trusting Christ; trusting Christ means that we are obeying Him. John writes in the above verses that this is a litmus test for anyone who claims to know Christ: do they obey Him? Obedience of God is not a requirement for Salvation, but it sure seems to be an indicator of Salvation. Anyone who claims to be in Christ, yet does not at least possess the earnest desire to obey Him, is only fooling themselves.
We do not change our lives in order to come to Christ, but a life unchanged is not a life that has been touched by Christ. No one who has genuinely received Jesus as Lord can ever remain as they were before. If we are trusting in Him, He will make us into different people, people who mature in faith and devotion to God, people who seek to obey Him, ever-growing in our desire to rid our lives of all which offends Him.
Will we always be successful? No. Real life experience agrees with the words of the Apostle John when he says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8). As long as we live on this Earth we will continue to sin at times. Our flesh which cannot be subject to the things of God will abide with us until we leave this life. But our attitude toward sin changes when we come to Christ, we now have the desire to no longer commit it.
Before we knew God, we sinned with impunity, knowing little about the consequences of our sins and caring even less. The person who does not know God is not bothered that his actions offend his Creator, he does not feel the sting of guilt nor the sorrow of contrition until God makes him a new person, one who is able to relate to the Lord on such a level. Far from being interested in obeying God, the unsaved individual lives their life without regard toward the Commandments of the Lord.
If this is how the unsaved live their life, then what of the one who claims to be in Christ, yet lives the very same way? If there is little difference between their behavior, their actions, their conversations, their desires and those of the person who makes no such claim to be a Christian, are either of these people really saved? If no real difference exists between their lifestyle, does any difference exist between their conditions before God?
This is, of course, not for any of us to determine: whether or not another is truly in Christ. It is neither our prerogative nor our responsibility to validate the genuineness of the faith of someone else. These tests and indicators are not to be used to judge any other man’s status with the Lord, but they are invaluable for ascertaining our own. When we search our own heart, what do we find? Is our desire to please and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, or are we still living as we always have: with flagrant disregard for the Commandments of God and no compulsion to honor Him? If the heartfelt desire to obey God is absent in our lives, is not the Salvation that we claim to possess also?
I am not giving these sober warnings in order to needlessly frighten anyone. I do not suggest that any Christian who sins is not truly a Christian, as we saw above, everyone sins including the most devout believer. Many sincere Christians continue to struggle with the impulses and addictions that plagued them before they came to faith in the Lord. Are they not, therefore, saved because of this? Of course they are. Our Salvation is upheld by a far greater Power than our own ability to overcome our shortcomings. If our Salvation was contingent on our own ability to rid our lives completely of all that offends our God, our condition would remain as pitiful and hopeless as it was before the Lord saved us.
“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
Our Salvation is accomplished by God and so is our Sanctification. What the Holy Spirit has begun in our lives, He will finish. God saves us from the penalty and guilt of our sin and He also saves us from the power that sin holds over us. While Salvation is accomplished in an instant – we become saved and our destiny forever changes the moment we first believe – Sanctification is an ongoing process that continues throughout our lifetime.
What Place Do Works Have?
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
It seems that there are two extremes to which many in the Church have gone: works are either stipulated as a requirement for Salvation, or else works are disregarded altogether. In our efforts to avoid the heretical fallacy of legalism, we have under-emphasized the role that “good works” do play in the Christian life. Attempting to make the point that our own works have no part in Salvation, we have unwittingly given some the impression that there exists no expectation of us to do anything even after we have been saved. We have inadvertently concluded that, since works do not save us, then what is the point of works?
In the verses of Ephesians 2:8-10, we have the clear cut Biblical formula for Salvation: we are saved by grace, through faith, unto good works. The order of these three factors is of the utmost importance. Faith does not precede grace, for Salvation begins, not in the heart of man, but with God. Works precede neither faith nor grace, for Salvation must be secured before works will have any merit.
The three prepositions tell us everything. By grace: Salvation comes from God. Through faith: our faith is the instrument securing God’s grace. Unto good works: works come after the Salvation part. It does not say anything about Salvation coming by good works or through good works, but good works are certainly what we are saved unto.
Verse 9 makes it clear that no man is saved by good works (as do so many other portions of Scripture, some of which we have already looked at), but Verse 10 makes it clear that good works are the “duty” of every believer. Good works do not save us, but that does not mean that they have no place in the life of the Christian. Our good works are not the currency which purchases Salvation, but they are the acts of worship and love that spring from the grateful heart that has been saved.