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The superiority of grace over action in regard to holiness
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“Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14 NKJV)
In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus told “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8 NKJV). What does it mean to live a pure and holy life? Who can be called holy? Some people’s deeds are right but motives are self-centered. Some people’s deeds and motives, both are right, but they have a pride in their good character. There are others who do the right things with a right motive and humility but only when all is well. When problems arise, they are not as good. There are others who prove good in all these situations but, when, a fault in their side appears, they hide it or make excuses, as they are good enough to recognize that they too can fall in sin. In short, imperfection in holiness is the scene of the world.
Then, who can be termed holy? Who can see the Lord? Holiness is not a fruit of our deeds but the result of the love of God shown in Calvary 2000 plus years ago. If we try to see the Lord depending on our actions, we never will reach our goal. But then, does this mean that actions do not have importance? No, actions have a prime importance in Christianity, but the relationship of grace with holiness is more powerful than action. Actions are important, but to live a holy life, grace is the prerequisite. Actions can never take the place of grace.
Then, what is the place of actions in holiness? If we do a good deed after being sure that God is pleased with it, does it mean God declares us holier than before? Holiness was given to us at the moment we when we were saved by believing in the finished work of Christ. We can never add anything to God’s sacrificial love. Never assume that actions can improve holiness in any way.
But, we also read in the Bible that faith without actions is dead. But this is told to indicate that we must show our priorities and beliefs by doing what we say that we believe. If I say that speaking truth in all situations is a must, I must do it. Faith with actions means obeying all those commands of God which we claim to believe. What I believe to be right, I must do.
Even though actions do not make us holier, it is a must for the Christian life. Doing a bad deed harms our holiness. To do the will of God is the sole aim of a true believer because he wants to please his Saviour. He does not keep aside from good deeds but is energetic and enthusiastic in them. By this, he does not want to elevate himself, but only to bring glory to God’s name. He believes in the grace of God who is his inspiration and example to live a holy life.
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