For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matt. 7:15-20.
Good Works or Faith?
Two sections of scripture speaking to the good works, the good fruit that is the result of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only that, the Matthew passages refers to how a diseased tree bears bad fruit.
So we have those two positions. Good tree bearing fruit that is good, and bad trees giving bad fruit. A thistle will give thistles, a fig tree will give figs. They can’t produce anything different than what they are.
How does our fruit get judged though? We, as believers, do good works. But those good works we do are fraught with the effects of sin.. pride, anger, duty, self-centeredness, half-heartedness and more. Even our good deeds aren’t really all that good.
But we aren’t saved according to our good deeds. We are saved by our faith. Our good deeds are a product of our faith, our salvation, but not the causal portion. They merely show what is true.
There are those who teach differently though. Those who teach that good works are an intrinsic part of our salvation. They would be so bold as to teach us good works are part of our justification process.
How to Judge Teachers?
The question then arises how do we judge the people that teach us? How do we discern truth from evil? Romans 7 says watch the deeds. The deeds of the evil will show what they are. We also need to weigh their words against scripture.
Does our obedience render us more acceptable to God? Is there anywhere in scripture that says that deeds are more important than faith? Is there anywhere in scripture that says deeds are how we are justified before God? Throughout scripture we are told the justified live by faith. We are told that our faith is shown in the things that we do. We are never told that what we do saves us. Weigh out what you hear. Be discerning. Show your faith in your actions, but don’t be thinking that what you do is what saves you. It isn’t. Faith alone is how we are justified before God. The only way.