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Doctrine: Works

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My daughters have a book called “The Girl who Never Makes Mistakes.”
The story goes through the day of a young girl named Beatrice. It tells how she got dressed, perfectly matching her socks, how she used the correct amount of peanut butter with the perfect jelly ratio, and how she gave the perfect responses to everyone she encountered as she walked through town.
However, her perfectionist streak was almost ruined when she slipped in the kitchen and eggs went flying, but luckily she caught them before they broke. Whew…that was close...
But that “almost” mistake paralyzed her. She was afraid to do anything the rest of the day because she was so afraid that she might actually make a mistake. It wasn’t long though before her biggest fear became a reality. Later that day at the talent show, while trying to juggle water balloons, one of them popped all over her.
At first she was stunned, and then she laughed, because the girl was never made mistakes was finally free from trying to be perfect all the time.
This children’s book is a not written from a Christian perspective but the point was that trying to be perfect all the time is not a way to live. Even our world realizes that it is too much!
I found it interesting that the book offers no solutions for Beatrice. She breaks the water balloon in front of a crowd and she laughs- it goes on to tell us that she slept great that night, she mismatched her socks the next day, and she put the peanut butter and jelly on the outside of her sandwich. It gives the impression that she is now free to make mistakes and that that freedom will result in happiness. But is that reality? Our doctrine this week is works..
Doing works to try to measure up to God’s standard of perfection, or honestly, even the worlds standard is exhausting and will leave most of us feeling like a failure. Making a mistake doesn't lead us to laughter or freedom, it instead leads to feelings of shame, failure, and the reminder that we aren’t good enough.
We might have moments where it appears we have nailed it, only to find ourselves with a new expectation or standard we are supposed to meet with perfection.
Jesus calls us to live a countercultural life. In our scripture this week he calls us to live differently than the world: valueing marriage, singleness, children, and living surrendered fully to Him. As believers, our priorities and values should reflect God’s kingdom values, not the worlds- we should look different!
But living with God’s kingdom values does not mean that we are trying to earn God’s favor in the process. We don’t live differently for Jesus, we live differently because of Jesus.
No matter how hard we try, or how good we are at keeping the rules and not making mistakes, we will always fall short.
We will always need Jesus.
The only way to be right with God is for the perfect righteousness of Christ to be attributed to us.
See, God, in his grace, knows we can never measure up and so HE does the work to transform our hearts. He gives us the ability to choose Christ for salvation rather than trying to depend on our own ability to follow all the rules. This is where true freedom is!
It doesn’t mean we set God’s law aside and don’t work to value what God values, but instead we work to bring HIS kingdom values to this earth knowing that when we fall short, Jesus’ blood is enough to cover us and he is pleased with us because we are His.
When I believe that my works can win God’s favor- I constantly live in performance mode. I never know if I have done enough or been good enough to please God. This leads to constant anxiety...
But, when I believe that my own works don’t measure up, I surrender to Christ, answering His call to a radical and countercultural life and rely on HIS righteousness and not my own. The holy Spirit transforms me from the inside out and God produces in me what I could never do on my own. Out of that transformation comes good works, attitudes, and actions that please God... The end result is that I now live in freedom and God gets the glory.
The good works produced in us after God transforms our hearts brings us assurance of our salvation. We are not saved by works, but saved people experience God’s work in their lives through His power alone.
Serving God requires complete dependence on His work.
If we are honest, we know we cannot provide on our own what serving God requires.
Where are you trying to serve by trying harder or being smarter? Only to discover that it was not enough?
We strive for excellence at BSF but perfection is never the goal. Let your service to God in and outside of BSF be dependent on Christ’s spirit working in and through you. As he equips, live freely knowing you don’t have to prove yourself.
God is and will do the work in and through his people, through you....and when he does the work, he gets the Glory. To God be all the glory, may all we do point back to him.
lecture extras:
In today’s culture we aren’t far from this type of thinking: we are told constantly to pursue what makes us happy. And what is that? Sex and marriage. These two things will make you happier, more complete, more satisfied, and give you purpose.
We are told, sex feels good, therefore you deserve to have it.
Marriage in our culture is idolized as the thing that will bring you happiness and completion...
In fact, this messaged is so engrained in our culture that the world has attempted to redefine marriage in order to achieve the supposed happiness and fulfillment found in marriage- because without marriage your life is somehow unfulfilled. Right? and how dare anyone stop someone from getting the thing that will bring them complete happiness and purpose in life.
My prayer for you is that you would take time today to ask God what small step of obedience He is asking you to take in your marriage right now. The reality is you cannot control or change your spouse, but you can change your response.
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