Why God's Grace is Greater Than Your Works

Originally published Wednesday, 22 March 2017.

In Galatians 3 we learn that if we are saved by faith, then we also walk with Christ by faith. Our faith is not only for the prayer we say when we ask Christ into our lives, and then it’s up to us to figure it out from there. The faith that saved us is the same faith that will keep us.

“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” – Galatians 3:2-3? (NIV????)

Paul is pretty much telling us: don’t fix what’s not broken. If you were saved by faith, then you also walk with Christ by faith. Our faith is not only for the prayer we say when we ask Christ into our lives, as though it’s then up to us to figure it out from there. The faith that saved us is the same faith that will keep us. It is your faith in God’s grace that leads to righteousness, not works, or striving, or hustling. We are saved by faith, so we live by faith.

The Galatians knew that their salvation was only because God’s grace through faith. But now they were tempted to think that this same grace and faith was not enough to help them maintain their walk with God. So Paul has to remind them to get the equation right:

Faith = righteousness
Works = death, because your work can neither save you nor keep you.

When we don’t understand this, this is when we see a lot of self-righteousness. It’s that feeling like, “OK, Jesus saved me, but now I feel like I need to work to deserve that salvation.” It’s like we’re trying to work off a debt because we feel we owe God, but the debt has already been paid by Jesus on the cross. So when we work with the mindset of, “Oh, I need to pay Jesus back,” we’re not operating in the grace that keeps us. We need to work with the mindset of, “I want to do right because of what Jesus has already done.” We need to work and live from a stance of gratitude and not a mindset of debt and feeling like we owe God. 

In Galatians 3 Paul gives us the example of Abraham, who is known as the father of faith. In verse 6 he says:

“So also Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” – Galatians 3:6 (NIV)

When we believe in Jesus Christ, He takes on our sin and grants us His righteousness. This means that because of our faith, now when He looks at us, God does not see our sin. He sees His Son. Paul continues:

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
Galatians? 3:13-14? (NIV??)

Jesus took on the curse of our sin, and give us His righteousness. Paul reminds the Galatians that this happens not because of their heritage or background, but because of their faith in Christ.

Even Abraham, who was a Jew, was not saved for being Jewish. He was saved because of His faith. So Paul explains that although the Galatians are not Jews, they still can receive the salvation of God that comes through faith and believing in God. And so can we. The moment we turn from faith to works and try to live life independent of God, we’ve already turned away from the faith that saves and keeps us, and the righteousness that follows.

Practical ways to avoid sin are good. Set your boundaries, make your lists, by all means get some accountability partners. But do not place your faith in those means. Put your faith in the grace of God, because the grace that saved you is the same grace that will keep you until the end. Humble yourself and know there is no amount of works that we can do to empower us to live the righteous life that God desires.

I know this is scary because we don’t want to sin. I know you have a heart for God. I know you want to do what’s right. But listen carefully to me when I say this: God does not want us to live in fear of sinning. He wants us to live in love with him. So instead of striving to not sin, we strive to see God. We strive to get as close to Him as we can because that is what leads to righteousness—being in His presence and humbling ourselves before Him, and saying, “Lord, I ask for the grace not to sleep with my boyfriend before we get married, grace not to lie to my boss, grace not to become angry and impatient with my kids, grace not to look at pornography, grace not to become resentful toward my husband, grace not to gossip, grace for all sin that wants to destroy the life You have given me.”

At the core of our walk with God, it’s not about rules; it’s about surrendering our lives to Him and desperately relying on His grace. It’s giving our weakness to God and saying, “God, I can’t do it. Will You?” This is where grace works. The Bible tells us God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. God can handle your weakness, so He does not want your rules, He wants your faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

So when you are tempted to trust in your works over God’s grace, I want you to remember that your works did not save you and they will not keep you. Only God’s grace can do that. And His grace is enough. His grace always does what your works can never do. And that stands true today, tomorrow, and forever.

Now I want to hear from you, Beloved. Do you ever get tempted to rely on your works? When you do, how does God help you to get back on track? I can’t wait to chat with you in the comments!

If you enjoyed today’s message please be sure to share it with a friend because you never know who might need some Beloved encouragement today. I post new encouragement every week so be sure to join Beloved to have my weekly devotion “Hello Beloved!” delivered directly to your inbox. For more encouragement let’s connect on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube. As always, thank you so much for reading and until next time be beautiful, be blessed and beloved.