Most Christians have pressing concerns in their lives—a child who is running from God; a marriage filled with tension; a mounting stack of bills with no money to pay them. Why should you be concerned about falling back into works if you are facing these kinds of problems?
I believe there is no more practical issue than an enslaving mindset of works-over-grace. It has everyday implications because it directly affects how you deal with your problems.
Let’s say a young man with a pornography addiction wants to be set free. He also tends to have a “works” mentality. One night he reads the following passage: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9, ESV). The young man thinks if he reads his Bible more, he’ll find freedom. Next he reads a passage that says, “Pray for one another.” So he joins a men’s accountability group and asks them to pray for him.
All the actions he has taken are good but in his heart, he is depending on doing things—on works—to provide the freedom he seeks. Yet this mentality only drives him farther down into bondage and despair. Following after Christ is not dependent on works—working to receive what only God can supply by faith.
Another young man in the same church is also struggling with pornography. He prays, “Lord, I’m helpless without You and I know that all too well. Yet, I also know that You are my hope. I come to You now, leaving behind my despair and trusting You to do a work in me. I know I need just one thing to overcome this sin: Your empowering grace. Let it roll over me now. Otherwise, I’m hopeless.”
This man will be met by God’s empowering grace. Why? Because he has knocked down every barrier that is preventing him from that grace—all with one simple prayer.
These two examples may not seem very different on the surface. But in the spiritual realm, tectonic shifts have taken place. A heart has moved away from the old, enslaving covenant that says, “I have to earn this,” toward a covenant that says, “Your grace drives all my efforts.”
When we come to this point, we’ll see God do things in our lives we could never do through our own efforts. I urge you, don’t neglect the great salvation you have been given. Turn to Jesus, who is always greater—and whose grace is your strength for everything.