This Halloween has inspired me to think about all the little ghouls and goblins that were out scurrying around the neighborhood last evening; frantically running from door to door excitedly anticipating the next hand full of fancy wrapped delicious treats being dropped in their little bags and pumpkin head buckets!
A question came to mind. What would you think if someone dropped a handful of fancy wrapped treats in your child’s little pumpkin bucket only to find that it was fancy wrapped FAKE candy! You’d be upset wouldn’t you. Besides your little goblin being emotionally disappointed as well. I’m sure it wouldn’t set well with you or the little goblin as well as engendering a less than desirable opinion of the one giving out this fancy fake candy.
This brought to mind when I once mistakenly picked up a plastic apple from a bowl on my mother’s table, only to realize it was fake. It looked exactly like an apple but by the feel and weight of it upon picking it up I immediately realized it was made of plastic, hollow and empty, lacking any real substance. Also realizing by the same token it had no life-giving nutritional value whatsoever. Although on the outside it did look just like an apple.
This reminds me of an immensely important lesson I had to learn in my Christian life and bible study. Which is expressly, trying to please God by doing good works is useless. Let me be completely clear, self-effort to produce good works or good standing with God is totally, utterly, entirely useless! It achieves absolutely nothing as far as our relationship with God is concerned. Furthermore and even more shocking is the that this is even offensive to God! So offensive that a scripture expressing God’s opinion of it is lets say; not even suitable for all ages in the original language…
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6,)
– Quite graphic in the original language isn’t it… –
Speaking of his past religious good works the apostle Paul wrote:
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” (Philippians 3:7–9, NLT)
The good ole King James Version brings out one particularly offensive word here in this same text which is descriptive of good works by self-effort more clearly and bluntly.
8 “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but DUNG,”
(Philippians 3:8 KJV)
Yes the Bible uses some extremely harsh yet clear language defining God’s opinion of our man-made good works! These have never pleased God and never will. In fact, according to the writer of Hebrews, it’s IMPOSSIBLE! – It doesn’t matter how full or pretty your righteous bag is. Just try eating a plastic apple!
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NLT)
Absolutely Nothing but faith in Christ Jesus pleases God and the good fruit that WILL RESULT from this faith as it grows from the inside out. This will be good works you probably won’t even give any thought to doing. (Matt 25:37-39) You most likely will not even be aware you are doing these, because it will become part of your new nature in Christ and naturally flow out from within. Self-effort only produces fake fruit which is hard to discern from an outward view.
“Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”” (John 6:29, NLT)
= Think about it; does God like tricks or treats? =
Put your complete faith in Christ and be sure you don’t take any plastic apples.
Daniel W Isrite