Rev 22:12-14 says, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” The Greek word for works is “ergon” and means toil, labor, occupation, deeds, acts. In other words, it means “what you do.” The Bible speaks of many different types of works, and we will examine these over the next few weeks. Let’s get into God’s Word.
First, the Bible speaks of the works of God (Jesus). His works are referred to as wonderful, marvelous, wondrous, mighty, and righteous. Jn 9:3-4 “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” What did He do next? He healed a blind man. His works are good (Act 10:38).
Second, there are the works of the flesh, also known as wicked works, works of iniquity, abominable works, evil deeds, ungodly deeds (Gal 5:19-21, Col 1:21). These are obvious: adultery, fornication, greediness, drunkenness, lying, stealing, hatred, gossip, etc.
Third, there are the works of the Devil, also known as works of darkness (1Jn 3:8, Eph 5:11). His work is to kill, steal, and destroy. He wants to devour. He wants God’s worship. He is a liar and a deceiver. The works of the flesh and the works of the devil have many similarities, the difference being what comes naturally to fallen man, and what Satan himself instigates.
Fourth, there are the works of the law, also known as dead works (Rom 3:20, Heb 9:14). Fifth, there are good works, also known as works of faith, or corresponding actions (Mt 5:16, James 2:18). The works of the law and good works can look identical, though motive is what separates them. Take, for instance, giving to the poor. If you give out of a love for God and your fellow man, this is a good work. If you give to earn favor or right standing with God, it is a work of the law, a dead work, a work done to earn righteousness from God.
Some might think it makes no difference why you do a good deed, as long as you do it. Jesus disagrees (Mt 7:22-23, 23:5). To Jesus, heart motive is everything. Man looks only on outward appearance, but God looks on the hearts (1Sam 16:7). Don’t think because you do something good, that God receives it. Why you do it means everything.
Why is this study on good works important? Because, for the Christian, our works will be judged by Jesus someday (2Cor 5:9-10, 1Cor 3:11-15). If our foundation is Jesus, we ourselves will not be judged, but our works will. We were judged when Jesus hung on the cross. He bore our judgment. However, what we do as a Christian - our deeds - will be judged by fire.
For the unbeliever, they will be judged by their works. When their name is not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life, they will be judged by their deeds, and cast into the Lake of Fire (Mt 16:27, Rev 20:11-15). I promise you, you would much rather have your works judged than be judged by your works. What you do with Jesus is the determining factor.
What does this mean? It means our works do matter, and, even moreso, why we do them. Work has become a four letter word in some hyper-grace circles, but we must remember that Paul - the apostle of grace - is the one who told us about the Judgment Seat of Christ, where our works would be tried by fire! Of course, at the other end of the spectrum are those who are trying to earn their way into heaven by what they do. This is a lost cause and treats the Blood of Jesus with contempt. After all, if you could earn your way, why would Jesus have to die? No, you can’t earn righteousness, you can’t earn heaven, and you will go to Hell trying. That is a fact. Next week, Lord willing, we will examine more closely the difference between works of the law and good works, and learn what, why, and how we should be doing what we should be doing. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!