Our good works can never save us. Salvation is not a weighing scale where we compare our good deeds over our sins. Good works can never cover up any of our sins. Salvation is not a merit-making system, it is a gift instead.
“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.” Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
Also, remember that many do good works but will not make it to the new heavens and new earth.
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
The ‘preaching in your name’; ‘healing of the sick’; ‘casting out demons’ are all good works. And yet Jesus declared that He never knew them, and that they were workers of lawlessness! Why is that so?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 ESV
The most important is the Father’s will. One can do good works but still disobeys the Father’s will. So relying on our good works to get to heaven is a dangerous mindset.
Even the devil can do marvelous good works.
“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV
The devil cannot be ‘an angel of light’ if he is doing pure evil. He uses good works to deceive many. But ultimately he cannot do the Father’s will.
Doing good to be saved? Or doing good because Jesus saves?
Make no mistake here. Jesus made Christians to be champions of good works.
“…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 KJV
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16 ESV
And so how do we put ‘good works’ into its proper context? The answer is also in Ephesians 2:8-9, our first Bible text above. We need to understand that God saved us first. It is a gift. Once God has cleansed us, our lives should be reflective of His character, which means following His commandments, and thus producing good works.
We are saved first, then consequently it produces good works. It is not doing good in order to be saved.
And so the next time we do good works, let’s ask ourselves these questions:
- Are we following the Father’s will first and foremost?
- Are we doing good works as a result of Christ saving grace?
If our answers to these are all positive then we can be sure that our good deeds do not deceive us.