We had an interesting discussion in our Sunday School class recently. One member said it seems that Lutherans often emphasize justification (the fact that Jesus died for our sins and thereby restored our relationship with God) and minimize sanctification (the ongoing process of becoming more Christlike). That’s probably true. We want to be sure people are aware that their good works don’t earn them God’s favor and are not necessary for salvation. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. After all, the Bible tells us that:
“… we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
The good works we do will benefit us and others. It pleases God when we seek to do His Will — and isn’t that what the Christian life is about? If we repent, and yet make no plan to amend our behavior, is our repentance genuine? Here’s a quote from my devotional reading that addresses that question.
“This doctrine (the intention to please God) does not suppose that we have no need of divine grace or that it is in our power to make ourselves perfect. It only supposes that through the lack of sincere intention to please God in all our activities we fall into irregularities of life that by the ordinary means of grace we should have the power to avoid; and that we have not that perfection of which our present state of grace makes us capable because we do not so much intend to have it.” From a Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law
In other words, if we’re honest, we often repent without any real desire to do better in the future. We know we are sinners (and that’s good) and since we can’t change that, we don’t even try. So, next time you examine your life and confess, take the second step — ask God to help you make a plan to avoid that sin next time. Intend to change. God will be pleased.
For more posts about good works see: