Works Without Faith           

A Devotional Snapshot


by God's Little Boy
© 2016
Posted 2/28/16


This message is intended for a specific target audience. It is a message that is glaring to me. The theme here is: "Human goodness is no substitute for a living faith in God." This is a message which warns against "works without faith." It is a message for those who are still trusting in themselves. It is a message for those who prefer to be "good" without God. It is primarily intended for the "moral" natural man, and also the "religious" man, as well as the gospel resistent man, to whom I have been sent for the past 38 years (a tough assignment). It is my hope that light from above will shine through a crack and bring understanding and a change of heart before the sand runs out of the hourglass of opportunity. But will any understand, or much less even bother to read? Perhaps for a few who have ears to hear this might help. At the very least it should sharpen the Christian by way of better definition. Why bother with such a topic? Because understanding is good. And because we are surrounded by so many who have such little understanding on this subject. And because many have persuaded themselves that their own goodness can make them acceptable to any higher moral power that should exists.

Let me first be very clear about something: morality is a very good thing, and good works are very important. God is a good and moral God. I don't want anyone to think that this article is intended to discourage such virtues; that would be ridiculous. With the rampant immorality in our culture today, we need these virtues more than ever. It is certainly a better world when God's moral law is honored and good works abound among men. God forbid that it should be any other way. And thank God for people who help others. But the purpose of this work is to call attention to a higher truth that involves the deeper spiritual motives of the heart. As people we are wired to think in terms of "good and bad," but there is a third option: Spiritual life from God. Spiritual life is higher than mere natural life. Anyone can do natural life; it's as easy of falling off a log. Chances are good that most of us did it this morning as soon as we awoke. Natural life comes out of natural men expressing their fallen natures. But spiritual life is done deliberately by faith. It is the fruit of abiding in fellowship with Christ and in the knowledge of God through his word.

From the scriptures we understand that, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20b). A "faith" that has no fruit to validate it is no faith at all. This is the point of James 2:20. But may I suggest that works without faith are "deader." And herein is my point: It very well may be that there is no greater stench in the nostrils of God than the good works that proceed out from a faithless man's carnal nature. Such goodness is not good in the eyes of God. Remember, God had no respect to Cain's offering. (Genesis 4:2-7) (Hebrews 11:4) (1 John 3:11-12). Anything offered as "good" apart from a true and living faith, is rejected at the cross. The goodness of the flesh (carnal nature of man) is not really good because the flesh is at enmity against God; it is condemned and utterly disapproved by God. God has no rehabilitation program for improving the flesh; only death to the flesh through a personal cross. He wants our flesh out of the picture. This is perhaps the most commonly misunderstood truth within the erring sea of humanity.

Some will say of faith and works, "the two are inseparable!" To that I say, "yes!" "And no!" Of course that is true in the proper sense, faith produces works, but I have witnessed the separation of these two for as long as I have been alive. The vast majority in this world continually separate faith from their works in that they offer works without faith. They prefer it that way. They prefer a goodness of their own making. They get a real charge out of good works, but they do not get a charge out of a relationship with the living God. Many spend their energies in heroics, but they have no desire for God's presence. They are dedicated to good for the sake of their own sense of worth, yet without knowing God. But it is only through finding our place in God that we discover a true sense of worth. So we see that works are inseparable from "faith," but faith is separable from "works."

It is better to have respect unto God's righteousness than to your own; and to his works than to the works of your own hands. This is a true proverb. Works should accompany and proceed out from faith, but works are no substitute for faith. We do not work for God, or work our way toward God, but we work in, through, and from God. What a difference prepositions can make! By truly possessing God by faith, we work out from God. What this means practically speaking, is that our life's pursuit is God himself first; through faith (as a central focus of our affection and careful daily attention). This is the "first love" of Revelation 2:4. Our works (whatever they may be) are simply the fruit of that reality. In this there is great safety from the pitfalls of an improper self-determination apart from God. They were building the tower of Babel for their own sake and without God. (Genesis 9:1-11) It was solely a human endeavor (humanism - the deification of man to the exclusion of God). People today are no better, and do the same thing.

There is a vast difference between Divine good and human good. This is true because there is a vast difference between The Holy God and sinful man (that's simple to understand, isn't it?). The former is perfect and the latter is flawed by depravity. This is why human goodness is not goodness as God sees it; it is only good by human estimation, but what is that worth? There may be some lesser temporal good that comes of it, but it falls short of Divine goodness and therefore has no lasting eternal value because it is without divine approval. Should a man pursue the hobby horse of good deeds while neglecting the author of goodness? If a man finds himself in the pursuit of good deeds while being distant and abstract in relationship to God, is not that man succumbing to humanism (a high crime against heaven)? The natural minded man needs to realize that everything that is truly "good" comes down from above; we can only be a channel through which it is poured. A man of faith receives and manifests this grace as a fruit of God's life within, he does not produce it in and of himself.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (James 1:17)

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

People of faith can also carelessly wander into this error. When we depart from the presence of God and fall out of fellowship with him and begin to do life without him we share this same spirit with the ungodly. The Christian must always stay upon God as his vital source for life and every heaven-sent virtue of faith. "And add to your faith virtue..." (2 Peter 1:5). Faith is the foundation of all virtue. This is all realized through the spirit-filled life.

The long and short of all this is that you must know God and be in relationship with him as a child of God before your virtues can be worth anything. Herein is good advice: Do not hide from God in the shelter of a good works program. Forsake your own goodness and esteem his goodness instead. Render to God the things he requires first. Let God love you first! Receive his love and entrust your heart to him. And then through a living faith, get to know him as a friend and help. Once you are established in that wise and secure position you can, with his full approval and by means of his grace, do what is good and right until the stars fall.






Back to Snapshots

Doctrinal Statement



A Safe Light in a Dark World.



All Domain Content  ©