There are two ways we work for God. One is born of faith in Christ, and the other is born of the need for recognition and acceptance. One way is with the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit, and the other is with our own strength. The first way surrenders to the righteousness of Christ that is ours. The second way works to prove its own righteousness. The first way is life. The second way is death.
“There is a way that seems right to a man,” Solomon said, “but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
What appears right to our natural minds, is what we think is right. And what we think is carnal. And to be carnally-minded is death (Romans 8:6).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said. “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
We don’t work our way to God on our own merit. We come to God on Christ’s merit. He is the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to experience God’s acceptance and approval is by understanding spiritually who we are in Christ. And to be spiritually-minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6).
Yet, don’t we sometimes work for God hoping that He will accept us—hoping for Him to forgive or heal or bless us—not understanding that if we would labor out of the right-standing we already have in Christ, we would experience His life and peace? If we would labor with His power working in us and not our own, wouldn’t we live the truth of the new person He has made us?
“To this end I also labor,” Paul wrote, “striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29).
Paul only strived with God’s guidance and power. He shared the Gospel out of His right-standing in Christ. He knew He had nothing to prove to God. Christ had already proved him righteous.
Christ, the hope of glory, has come to live within us (Colossians 1:27). We are new persons in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have God’s power but we have to surrender our minds—our natural thoughts—our ways—our ideas—our circumstances—our issues—our opinions—everything to the righteousness that is yours in Christ.
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).
It is Christ’s righteousness that saved us and His righteousness that works in us—not our own. The Holy Spirit draws and empowers us to work for Christ. We surrender to the righteousness that is ours in Him. We surrender to live the righteousness He has given us. Any work born of the need for acceptance and approval has no power. We are called to work for Christ, but works born of our need instead of faith in Christ have no life (James 2:17). The problem arises in the motivation for our work. Is our work born of the incorruptible seed of the Word that has taken root in our heart or born of our own corruptible need to prove ourselves?
Never work to prove yourself worthy to God. When you know your worth in Christ, you have no need to prove yourself by the work you do for Him. Work out and conform to your salvation by being renewed by God’s truth (Romans 12:1-2). Allow the incorruptible seed of God’s truth to take root and grow in your heart (1 Peter 1:23). Then you can labor out of the righteousness Christ has earned for you. Working without faith is death. Working out of the faith that is yours in Christ is life (James 2:20-22).
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
It is God’s power that energizes us (Colossians 1:29). It is His work in and through us that brings life to our “yes.”
“May the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
© 2022 Lynn Lacher