Thursday, December 26, 2013

Faith Works!

I'd like to address the claims some people make, who say that being saved by grace through faith in Christ means we don't need to do anything.  They say that God does not require any outward or external changes, and it is only the heart that He is looking at.

They claim it is legalism to preach on the need for godly attire, as I have done in Garments of Godliness and Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations.  They also say it is legalism to preach that anyone who refuses to be conformed to the image of Christ this way will miss heaven and not see God's face.   They charge that it is "another gospel" any time we say obedience is required in any area, such as I have written about in my articles Is Tithing Required?, Keeping Sundays Holy, and The Lord's Day

Although I have already refuted such claims in many other blogs already, such as the ones above and others that I will list below near the end of this post, I would like to make it clear once again that faith works.  If you have true, saving faith, it will be evidenced by your works.  It must show on the outside, and if it doesn't, then it's not saving faith.  Yes, grace works!

Circumcision was the Main Heresy Paul Refuted
Although the word "legalism" or "legalistic" is not even in the Bible, people use the apostle Paul's epistle to the Galatians as the basis for their claims of legalism.  Yet in order to properly understand Paul's letter, we have to read it in context.  That letter was correcting a specific error, namely the false teaching (heresy) that says you must seek to obtain justification through the law by circumcision, in addition to your faith in Christ.

He specifically addressed the practice of Judaizing, which means to compel Gentiles to live like Jews. That is what he rebuked Peter for doing (Gal 2:14). The Greek word "Ioudaizo" in that verse means "to live like Jews."  In other words, Peter was compelling or forcing Gentiles Christians to adopt the Jewish customs or way of life. He did so by by beginning to draw back and separate himself from the Gentile Christians who had not been circumcised.

Yet Paul specifically and primarily addressed circumcision as one thing that Gentile Christians must never be forced to do, which would be a sign that they had converted to Judaism. In fact, the word "circumcision" occurs six times in that epistle and "uncircumcision" occurs twice (Gal. 2:12; 5:2,3,6,11; 6:15). He also alluded to circumcision indirectly in another instance by suggesting that the proponents of it should emasculate (castrate) themselves (Gal 5:12).

Paul's main point in this epistle was: "Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Gal 5:2-4)

We are free from ritual or ceremonial laws, such as circumcision. We are free from Jewish customs, such as observing days and months and seasons and years (Gal 4:10).  We are free from all mixtures of Judaism.  In fact we are dead to the Law and cannot be justified by observing it.  We are not trying to attain our goal by human effort (Gal 3:3). We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ.  We are justified by faith in Christ alone.  But we must not receive the grace of God in vain. It is not a license to sin -- to do what God has commanded we must not do or to neglect what God has commanded we must do.  I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.

Paul says elsewhere, "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God." (1Co 7:19; cf., Ro 2:13 and 2:26).  What matters is the keeping of God's commandments.  Paul never said we are excused from keeping God's commandments.  He and the other apostles like John and James taught this in their epistles, as Jesus also taught in the gospels.

We Must Preach the Whole Counsel of God
We must preach the whole counsel of God, not just the popular topics.  In Paul's final meeting with the Ephesian elders, he told them, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God." (Act 20:27). 

Preach Against Sin
We must preach against sin, just as Jesus and the apostles did (Mat. 12:31; 18:21; Mark 3:29; John 1:29; 5:14; 8:7,11,21,34,46; 9:41; 15:22,24; 16:8,9; 19:11; Acts 7:60; Rom. 3:9,20; 4:8; 5:12,13,20,21; 6:1,2,6,7,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,20,22,23; 7:7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25; 8:2,3,10; 14:23; 1Co. 6:18; 7:36; 8:12; 15:56; 2Co. 5:21; 11:7,29; Gal. 2:17; 3:22; Eph. 4:26; 1Ti. 5:20,22; Heb. 3:13; 4:15; 9:26,28; 10:6,8,18; 11:25; 12:1,4; 13:11; Jas. 1:15; 2:9; 4:17; 1Pe. 2:20,22,24; 4:1; 2Pe. 2:14; 1Jn. 1:7,8; 2:1; 3:4,5,8,9; 5:16,17; Mat. 7:23; 13:41; 23:28; 24:12; Rom. 6:19; 2Co. 6:14; 2Th. 2:3,7; Heb. 1:9; 1Jn. 3:4).

Preach Repentance
We must preach repentance, even as they did (Mat. 3:2, 8,11; 4:17; 11:20, 21; 12:41; Mark 1:4,15; 6:12; Luke 3:3,8; 5:32; 10:13; 11:32; 13:3,5; 15:7; 16:30; 17:4; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 13:24; 17:30; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 2:4; 2Co. 7:9,10; 12:21; 2Ti. 2:25; Heb. 6:1,6; 12:17; 2Pe. 3:9; Rev. 2:5,16,21,22; 3:3,19; 9:20,21; 16:9,11).

Preach on Hell
We must preach on hell, even as Jesus and the apostles did (Mat. 5:22,29,30; 7:19, 21-27; 8:12; 10:28; 13:42,50; 18:9; 22:13; 23:15,33; 24:51; 25:30, 41-46; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; 13:28; John 15:6; Jas. 3:6; 2Pe. 2:4, 17; Jud 1:11-13).

Preach on Righteousness, Self-control, and the Coming Judgment
We must preach on righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment as they did (Acts 24:25; also see Mat. 5:20; 7:2, 12; 10:15; 11:22,24; 12:36,41,42; Luke 6:37; 10:14; 11:31,32; John 3:19; 5:22, 24, 27, 29, 30; 8:16; 9:39; 12:31; 16:8,11; Ro 1:18; 2:1-8, 12; 3:4; 11:22; 1 Cor 11:31-32; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; 2 The 2:12; 5:9; Heb 6:1-2; 10:26-31; Rev 11:18; 16:5; 19:2; 20:12-13).

Preach Holiness
We must preach on the need to pursue holiness, without which no man will see God (Heb 12:10, 14; Rom 1:4; 12:1; 2 Cor 7:1; Eph 1:4; 2:21; 4:24; 5:27; Col 1:22; 1 Tim 2:8; 1 Pet 2:5,9; 3:5; and 2 Pet 3:11).

Name Specific Sins
We must name sins that will land people in hell, as they did (Mat 5:22, 27-48; 7:1; Rev. 2:4,14,20). And Paul gave a partial list when he wrote in Galatians 5:

"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal 5:19-21). Also see my article, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven.

Your Body Matters
To those who say that what a woman wears externally does not matter, and that jewelry, makeup, and other artificial adornments are not a problem for Christians to put on their bodies, this is what the Lord says.  He says the "property of Jezebel" that the daughters of God are wearing just like the world are not pure.  They are not of God.  Jezebel "painted her eyes and adorned her head" to make herself sexually attractive, in order to deceive and seduce men, probably in the hope that Jehu would not kill her (1 King 9:30b).  That is impurity.   It is also sensuality, since it lends itself to exciting sexual desires.  And it can also be idolatry, since they love those things of the world that they wear, just as the men likewise love them.  They do not want to part with them.  And it also causes men to idolize women, as if they were goddesses, because of the way they are artificially adorned with worldly things.  It also leads to lust and envy, as well as carousing, and "things like these."  Paul clearly forewarned us that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God; they will miss heaven.

To those who insist that the property of Jezebel is not impure, sensual, or idolatrous, I say that you are badly mistaken.  Don't you know where all those worldly things originally came from? Do the research as far back as you can go, and see for yourself. Those things were introduced into the world by satan through his angels.

The apostle Paul wrote:

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." (1 Thes 5:23-24)

"And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Rom 6:13)

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Rom 12:1)

"Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience." (Col 3:5-6)

"Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body...Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1Co 6:13,18-20)

Paul explicitly taught that we must keep our bodies holy and pure.  These days it is popular to eat things that are considered "natural" and "pure".  There's nothing wrong with that.  But we must not neglect the more important matters in the sight of God, and that includes keeping our bodies holy and pure.

The Spirit of Truth Guides Us Into All Truth
The problem is that the Church has become so worldly that it is no longer able to correctly recognize as sin the worldly practices it has embraced.  Now when most people read the Word of God, they read it through a filter.  Some of the filters we use are the opinions of men, such as a commentary or our pastor. Other filters include our neighbor.  We look to our left and right and see that everyone else is doing it, so it must not be a sin.  Yet we must never read the Word of God through any filter, but let it speak for itself.  Open your Bible, shut out all the other voices, bind every lying spirit in Jesus' name, and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.  I assure you that He will do so, because He is the Spirit of Truth, Who guides us into all Truth. The Lord always leads His sons and daughters into all Truth, just as He has done for those to whom He has given revelations by the Spirit, calling us back to sound biblical doctrines that have been lost or abandoned by the Church.

Obedience is Essential for Disciples
Here are just some of the other blogs I have written, which provide a clear and biblical response to the concerns that my obedience doctrine is legalism, especially the first two in the left-hand column:

Is Obedience Optional?
The Law of Christ 
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The Cost of Discipleship
The New Covenant
Costly Grace
Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?
Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross?
The Obedience of Faith
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully     
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God
Aim for Perfection
Righteous Deeds and White Robes
Doing What is Right
Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice
Partaking of the Divine Nature
Walking in the Perfect Will of God
Pressing on Toward the Goal
Obedience by the Spirit
What Then Must We Observe?

Putting it All Together
Dear friend, we are saved by grace through faith, not by works, but obedience is required of every disciple who claims to follow Christ.  We must preach the Word of God as it is written.  We must not dissect it into little pieces and give people what their itching ears want to hear.  We must preach the whole counsel of God, not just the popular topics.  That means that in addition to preaching the true gospel of salvation by grace through faith, we must preach against sin, which includes preaching repentance. It is always, "Repent and believe the gospel!" We must preach the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and not only that He is our Savior.  We must preach on hell. We must preach on righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment.  We must preach holiness.  We must name sins that will land people in hell.

The devil hates it when we preach like this, because it destroys his works, and keeps people from being deceived into hell.  It brings Light into the darkness, and the Light dispels the darkness. It's the heart of Jesus, and it brings true salvation to mankind.

Since the devil hates all of this, his strategy is to lie and call this "legalism" or "another gospel" of works. He will try to say that this will not be popular, and nobody will ever want to get saved this way. But Jesus never preached what was popular.  He always preached the Truth, and warned that it is a narrow Way, which few will find (Mt 7:14).

If you struggle with what I have just presented, and you are still not sure about things like tithing, keeping Sundays holy, or godly attire and adornment, then you need to seek the Lord about it with all your heart.  Ask Him to show you these things in His Word.  Ask the Spirit of Truth to guide you into all Truth, and He will. If you really want to know the Truth at any cost, you will find it.  If you have never been baptized with the Holy Spirit, then you need to pray for that and receive it.  He will give the Holy Spirit to His true children who ask believing.

Remember that faith without deeds is useless (Js 2:26).  Grace really does work, and faith works, too!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Faith Works" image courtesy Media Machine.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Garments of GodlinessIs Tithing Required?, Keeping Sundays Holy, and The Lord's Day, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?  Practicing Your Righteousness, The Ways of Life, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Abominations in the Sight of GodPleasing the Lord, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, Led by the Spirit, No Flesh Will Be Justified by Works and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.


  1. Hello Len, Very nice post. I do believe most of these things, sometimes I just get confused because a lot of people keep disagreeing but I really do want to know the truth which is the word of God! Is there any way i can contact you. Thanks

    1. Dear brother, I appreciate your feedback! And you are welcome to contact me through either my profile, or through, where you will find a means of reaching me. To safeguard my Inbox from attack, I do not publish my email address on web pages.


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