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Defending the Faith

These Daily Reflections supply the messages from Grace Church as daily video clips from the most recent sermons. Each day's clip will last about 10 minutes and if you watch them all, you will have reviewed morning and evening sermons from the previous Sunday.

Ministry Reflection - June 13, 2009

By This We Will Know: 1 John 2:3-6

But second, we need to understand that these aren’t just any good works – they must be good works that are motivated by love. First, what do Jesus and the apostles mean when they say good works are strong evidence that we are true believers? They’re not merely talking about right actions apart from our motive for doing them. Edwards tells us that men’s actions apart from their motives “are no more good works or acts of obedience, than the regular motions of a clock; nor are they considered as any human actions at all. The actions of the body, taken thus, are neither acts of obedience, nor disobedience; any more than the motions of the body in a convulsion. But the obedience and fruit that is spoken of, is the obedience and fruit of the man; and therefore not only the acts of the body, but the obedience of the soul, consisting in the acts and practice of the soul.” Our motives must also be weighed. Even unconverted people can do a certain kind of “good works.” As our Confession states it, “Works done by unregenerate men, although, for the matter of them, they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God” (WCF 16.7). The Lord does not consider our works to be good at all if there is no good motive behind them. If we programmed an ATM to distribute money to the poor, it wouldn’t be doing anything praiseworthy, because it doesn’t have a motive. Neither would we say that someone is obeying Christ merely because he is doing something Christ commands, when he has never heard of Him. Edwards writes, “If the acts of obedience and good fruits spoken of, be looked upon, not as mere motions of the body, but as acts of the soul; the whole exercise of the spirit of the mind, in the action, must be taken in, with the end acted for, and the respect the soul then has to God, &c. otherwise they are no acts of denial of ourselves, or obedience to God, or service done to him, but something else. Such effective exercises of grace as these, many of the martyrs have experienced in a high degree. And all true saints live a life of such acts of grace as these, as they all live a life of gracious works, of which these operative exertions of grace are the life and soul. And this is the obedience and fruit that God mainly looks at, as he looks at the soul, more than the body; as much as the soul, in the constitution of human nature, is the superior part. As God looks at the obedience and practice of the man, he looks at the practice of the soul; for the soul is the man in God’s sight, ‘For the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for he looketh on the heart.’”

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