It Is About Actions/Behavior/Conduct
March 3, 2015
We are to interpret God’s Word using God’s Word, doing this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are not to create man-made doctrines based on a few select verses. And we are not to over-emphasize favorite verses to the exclusion of other verses so as to perpetuate those doctrines.
Why, then, is Eph. 2:8,9 so often quoted while verse 10 –which clearly is part of the explanation– is left out? The three verses say, “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.”
These three verses say a lot, but my intent in this post is to remind us to be wary about those who rest their doctrine on verses eight and nine while not including the tenth! Teaching that does such a thing is minimizing (either intentionally or unintentionally) the requirement of obedience to Christ. Yet our Lord and the whole of God’s Word states that doing good, doing the will of God, and faithfully obeying Christ’s / God’s commands is a must for salvation.
Whenever Eph. 2:8,9 is used to discuss the issue of faith and works, verse 10 absolutely needs to be included, for it goes on to say that not only were we created to do good works, we are also to walk in those good works which God planned for us to walk in.
Therefore, for it to be taught that doing good works is unnecessary for salvation is to teach falsehood. What is the opposite of doing the good works which God preordered for each of us to do? It is to be rebellious. And being rebellious is to sin, and sin not renounced and rejected is to forfeit salvation.
Walking in the works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in is to walk in obedience to the Lord. It is to live in consistent obedience to Christ. It is to be faithful to Christ. This is what faith really is, what it means, what it consists of. This is why works cannot be at all separated from faith. True faith is obedience (works) and obedience is faith. Thus faith is a mind and heart issue, as well as an action/behavior issue. There cannot be a separation of faith’s ingredients or it is hypocrisy / deceit, which, of course then, is unfaithfulness / disobedience / rebellion / sin.
There are so many verses that speak about the absolute necessity of being obedient to the Lord in all we do –which consists of action. There are so many verses that speak about the necessity of walking in the will of the Lord –which means behavior/conduct (as well as that mind/heart position of submission). Here are just a few:
1 Peter 1:15 says, “…so be holy in all you do.” That is a command to obey and it is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Rom. 8:13 says that if we live according to the sinful nature we will die. This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.” (John 14:23) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom. (Mt. 7:21) Let’s remember that the words “do” and “does” are about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “If you want to enter Life, obey the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Eph. 5:6 says that “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
1 John 2:29 says, “…you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
And I could go on with verse after verse.
What then, are the works that do not benefit a person in acquiring salvation? The entire context of Eph. 2:8-10 reveals it. They are the works done according to our own will and in the power of our own flesh. In other words, works that will not help us to be saved are those works done in the flesh and according to the good things we (or other people) think should be done. But, to do works (actions) and walk in conduct (behavior) that is ordered by our Master (through His Word and His Spirit) is an absolute must.
Every teacher should make this distinction when explaining what faith consists of. It could be a matter of Heaven or Hell for our hearers. (1 Tim. 4:16)