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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Works aren't evil

In Candy's last post in her series on the Law, she writes that Born Again Christians are not under the Law.

Candy writes: Remember what we saw in the above Scripture - "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." When we walk in the spirit, we produce good FRUITS. Meanwhile, walking in the flesh produces WORKS. Notice in the above Scripture, I bolded fruits and works so that you could more clearly see the distinction. When we walk in the spirit we keep and fulfill the law, but not of ourselves. It is a fruit - it happens automatically. An apple tree does not need to work to produce apples - it happens naturally.

For Candy a work=works of the flesh, which is always bad.
A fruit=fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is always good.

However, not all works are works of the flesh.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: ill we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ

James 2:14-26 What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself.

Yea, a man will say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith. Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar?

Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. And in like manner was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.

Molly left a comment which I think gets right to the point. She wrote: Works are things that do
not involve staying at homne to KEEP the home as you teach, and I'm sorry too but the word 'works' always reminds me of catholicism too.

I think Candy's main concern in stressing fruits over works, is that works are what Catholics do.

I have asked Candy very politely on more than one occasion how she sees producing good fruits automatically as fitting in with free will. She has not yet posted my question (I guess she feels it is a "foolish and unlearned question" per her comment policy), much less answered it.

I'm not sure Paul found it so easy, as he wrote in Romans 7:15 "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."

Related posts:
Fruits of the Spirit
The Famous Fruit Test


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41 comments:

Kelly said...

sub

Sue Bee said...

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. - Matthew 5:16

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. - John 14:12

Jesus wasn't afraid to use the word works.

Barbara C. said...

Can jump right to..."I can't take it anymore!!" ;-)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

How could good works ever be evil? Good works will NEVER be evil, in this world, or in the next.

Moonshadow said...

Paul found it so easy, as he wrote in Romans 7:15 "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."

Candy would probably try to say that's pre-conversion Paul talking in Romans 7:15ff, but, of course, we know that pre-converted (unregenerate) people aren't morally conflicted, spirit against flesh.

I read somewhere that the different uses James and Paul make of the Abrahamic tradition - in the former, that Abraham was justified in what he did and in the latter, that he was justified by faith - is an old rabbinic discussion, like those opposing schools of Hillel and Shammai.

As usual, our Scripture settles the debate by including both views! Amen.

Kelly said...

DOW, do you feel there is a difference between works and fruits?

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Kelly,

Ahmm... let me see if I can use some of the laws of nature to answer that question. Yes, there is a difference. One has to work in order to bear fruit. Fruit is the result of work. No work - no fruit.

I remember the parable of the unfruitful fig tree found in Luke 13:6-9.

6Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'

8" 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. 9If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' "


This farmer worked real hard to give this fig tree all the support and nutrients needed for the tree to bear fruit, but the fig tree had failed to do its part of taking those nutrients and utilizig them to make fruit. Providing a fruit tree with nutrients and support, that lacks the ability to utilize those nutrients to make fruit, is a waste!

God is working on us everyday to change us into being more like Him, but if we resist and refuse to do the work necessary by cooperating with Him, then our lives will bear no fruit.

Some people think that we will bear fruit with no work. Wrong! The Bible does not teach that. The Bible teaches that we must cooperate with God in the work that He is doing in us, and not resist Him. It is only then that we can bear fruit. JMHO.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

This idea of bearing fruit without work is laughable. Where do we ever see that concept played out in the spiritual or natural world? Even God had to work to bear fruit during the six days of creation week! Jesus worked, and so did His disciples!

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work (John 9:4).`

Romans 13:11-14:

11And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
.

Hillary.

Sue Bee said...

DOW writes: God is working on us everyday to change us into being more like Him, but if we resist and refuse to do the work necessary by cooperating with Him, then our lives will bear no fruit.

Are you saying only with our cooperation by doing good works there is justification &/or sanctification?

Sue Bee said...

subbing

Jennie said...

It's true that there are 'works of the flesh' and then there are 'good works' that come from abiding in Christ and walking in the Spirit.
In John 15, Jesus says “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
We can't bear fruit or produce good works apart from abiding in Christ.
I'm not sure if fruit is the same as 'good works' or if the fruit comes from abiding in Christ which then allows us to do good works by His power and grace, and then we bear fruit. Jesus says in John 15 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

It looks like at least part of abiding in Christ is loving each other, as He has loved us. So He loves us, we love Him, and then this continues in love for fellow believers. When we obey Him in this, we will abide in Him and will produce fruit which flows from His life in us, like sap flowing from the vine to its branches. Obviously, if we aren't attached to the vine, we won't have His life, or do works that bear fruit. Good works do flow from Him.

Sue Bee said...

I'm home this afternoon. Technically packing for vacation, but it looks more like sitting in front of the computer with a cup of coffee. :-)

I re-read Candy's post and this paragraph jumped out at me:

The law is profitable, however. For example, it's a good idea to follow the law in places where it teaches such things as not eating pork and lobster. There are common sense laws and moral laws, which do no harm to follow. When these Old Testament common sense and moral laws are followed, we live healthier and happier lives. Yet, the ceremonial laws do not need to be kept, since Christ and Christians fulfill them.

But isn't deliberately following the law a work of the flesh and not a spontaneous fruit of the spirit? Who chooses which moral common sense laws to keep/ignore?
And how do Christians fulfill the covenant?

This illustrates why we need the church.

So many questions, so few answers.

Jennie said...

Sue said,
Who chooses which moral common sense laws to keep/ignore?
And how do Christians fulfill the covenant?

This illustrates why we need the church.


Then we need to know what 'the church' is.

Here is a quote from Paul Pavao's website, Christian History for Everyman, http://www.christian-history.org/index.html on this page: http://www.christian-history.org/roman-catholic-one-true-church.html
Here are the things that are true of a true church, which can only be a local church:

* The church is saved from deception by the leading of God through its members (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Jn. 2:27).
* The church grows together, and only as each part is doing its share (1 Cor. 12:12-26; Eph. 4:15-16).
* The unity and good works of the church together is the light and testimony of the world (Matt. 5:13-16, where all the "yous" are plural; Jn. 17:20-23; 1 Thess. 1:6-10).
* The church shares all things, taking care of one another, though voluntarily rather than under complusion (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32; 2 Cor. 8:13-15; Heb. 10:33-34; and that this continued long past apostolic times is testified to until at least A.D. 210).
* The church is a family with responsibility to one another, even more so than our biological families (Luke 14:26; 18:29-30; Gal. 6:10; 1 Tim. 3:15).


This description goes back to what I said earlier about loving God and each other being how we abide in Christ (once we are in Christ as new creations). But again, what is the church and where do we find it? We find it in coming to Christ and then coming together with those who are in Christ. We are 'one loaf' with Christ and with each other.

Kelly said...

But isn't deliberately following the law a work of the flesh and not a spontaneous fruit of the spirit? Who chooses which moral common sense laws to keep/ignore?
And how do Christians fulfill the covenant?


Plus, she is a dresses only, headcovering Christian because she believes women are commanded to be so, according to Scripture.

I believe she even went so far as to say that while she couldn't say for sure that you weren't saved if you were wearing pants and lacking a head covering, but it wasn't likely that you were saved.

Jennie said...

Plus, she is a dresses only, headcovering Christian because she believes women are commanded to be so, according to Scripture.


We're commanded to do many things in scripture, and not to do many things as well. Because someone obeys a command doesn't mean they are under the law. It may mean they love God and want to please Him because they trust in Him. A person can wear dresses only and not please God if they are doing it from wrong motives. A person can wear pants and please God if they are in submission to Him and loving Him and their neighbor by faith and grace. It's good for women to wear feminine and modest clothing, whatever that may mean, but it's better to have a good attitude AND to dress modestly. The good attitude part is the hard part, as I know from personal, ongoing experience.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Sue Bee asked:

Are you saying only with our cooperation by doing good works there is justification &/or sanctification?
----------------------------------

No Sue Bee. We do not get justified or sanctified by doing good works. We do good works because we have been justified and sanctified. God has justified us and sanctified us to do good works. We therefore do good works out of obedience to God.

Jennie said...

And the passages about how women should dress, and if they should cover their heads, are not totally clear. It is the heart that matters and then the dress will follow. We obviously should not dress inappropriately. I assume most of us here know generally what that means, and it may mean different things for different cultures.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Sue Bee wrote:

But isn't deliberately following the law a work of the flesh and not a spontaneous fruit of the spirit? Who chooses which moral common sense laws to keep/ignore?
And how do Christians fulfill the covenant?
-----------------------------------

Following the law is not a work of the flesh. Here is what the Bible calls the works of the flesh.

Galatians 5:19-21:

19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.


So you see, the works of the flesh are sinful acts.

Not eating pork or wearing dresses only are not works of the flesh. They are spiritual practices that people adhere to in an effort to please God, or to get closer Him in their relationship with God. Other spiritual practices we do include going to church every week, saying grace before a meal, Bible study, homeschooling/Christian education, and so on. All these involve work but they are not works of the flesh.

Hillary :-)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Scriptural passages about women covering their heads and men cutting their hair are culturally based. Paul was speaking in reference to the culture they were living in. I give an example.

Elsewhere in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, it was not a sin for a man to wear long hair. Samson and Absalom both had long hair. In the New Testament, under the Roman empire, the Romans considered it unacceptable for a man to wear long hair; therefore Paul was just adapting the church members' dress to the cultural norms of decency within Roman society.

Jennie said...

So you see, the works of the flesh are sinful acts.

And sinful acts can be things we do for the wrong reasons, or without a clear conscience.
for whatever is not from faith is sin.Romans 14:23

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Statement from blog post attributed to Candy:

" An apple tree does not need to work to produce apples - it happens naturally."
---------------------------------

Well, if apple trees do not need to work to produce apples how come some trees are barren? Is there not a natural process whereby fruit trees make fruit? Do they not have to take up nutrients through their roots and transport the nutrients to the leaves/branches, where natural chemical processes cause the tree to bloom, and reproduction takes place, resulting in fruit?

A natural work, but work nevertheless.

Do not our bodies work the same way? Which one of us eats food without the chewing of the teeth? Who can walk even one step without the moving of the feet, or admire a beautiful picture without the opening of the eyes?

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I just want to add that the fruit of doing good works is not justification and sanctification, but these:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).


Therefore, the more good we do to others, the more love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness,and self-control we develop. These become a part of our character and who we are as people of God.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Have you guys heard about the earthquake that hit Chile today? Hawaii threatened with a Tsunami?

Sue Bee said...

An apple tree does not need to work to produce apples - it happens naturally.

God created the seed, and the soil in which the seed grows. He created the sun’s rays and the rain that the seed needs to grow. The tree grows as He designed it to grow. Its reproduction, as He designed it, produces a tasty seed pod we call an apple.

God produces apples.

When we see a tree full of fruit we might think, “What a great tree.” What we should think is, “What a great God!”

:-)

Elena said...

Um... actually if you don't tend the apple tree, prune it, fertilize it, prevent deer etc. from rubbing the tree bark - the tree stops bearing good fruit. I recently inherited an old apple orchard and we are sort of doubting that it will be productive at all and we are also wondering if its worth trying to do the hard WORK of bringing it back or just starting over.

Kelly said...

But don't forget, Candy also wrote:

However, when one is truly saved, and has God's Holy Spirit indwelling them, then they will produce Christian fruits, for they have become a Christian tree. Apple trees produce apples, and Christian trees produce Christian fruits. Sometimes an apple tree produces a bad fruit. When a Christian tree produces a bad fruit, then they go to their Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ

Sue Bee said...

actually if you don't tend the apple tree, prune it, fertilize it, prevent deer etc. from rubbing the tree bark - the tree stops bearing good fruit.

Sounds like raising children in a fallen world.

Sue Bee said...

Sometimes an apple tree produces a bad fruit. When a Christian tree produces a bad fruit, then they go to their Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ

Hmmmm....Christ as the mediator only when you need Him??

I'm not sure what she means...But that is nothing new.

Kelly said...

Hmmmm....Christ as the mediator only when you need Him??

Well, not to quote her out of context, I believe that particular article was saying that Candy believes Christian can and do sin after being saved.

What I found most interesting about it, was that she says repeatedly that Christians bear good fruit automatically. Then in that one article, she says that they sometimes bear good fruit, and sometimes bad. How exactly does that work??

Jennie said...

Kelly,
What I found most interesting about it, was that she says repeatedly that Christians bear good fruit automatically. Then in that one article, she says that they sometimes bear good fruit, and sometimes bad. How exactly does that work??

I don't know what Candy thinks, but it goes back to what I said earlier about abiding in Christ which is done by learning from His word, depending on the Holy Spirit's help (grace), and being obedient to His commands, which are to love God and love one another. Bearing fruit is not automatic unless we do these things. Maybe this is the 'work' that Elena and DOw were talking about. Of course, God does 'prune' the branches and 'till' the soil of our hearts, which is work, but He also can use us to help each other with these things.

It follows, then that if we are not abiding in the ways Jesus describes, then we will easily fall into sin and need to repent and ask for help and forgiveness. We all sin, but we will sin less and less, I assume, as we do this. I'm still 'working' on this myself, with God's help. ;)

Jennie said...

Am I typing in a foreign language? It's like I'm one of those Chinese people that keep posting and everyone ignores them. Let me try something:
兄弟被觸犯比一個強的城市是难贏取,並且角逐是像城堡的酒吧。

Moonshadow said...

Jennie said: abiding in Christ which is done by learning from His word,

Now, you said on the Casting Crowns post that, to your mind, first and foremost, the Word of God is Jesus Christ. And that the scriptures are the very words of God, from his mouth and from his Spirit.

No argument on that.

The difference, then, I think is one's interpretation of John 15, especially verse 7, where Christ speaks of his words abiding in his disciples. 1 John 2:14 also speaks of the word of God abiding in the "strong, young men" (KJV).

A Catholic would, I think, consider this mutual abiding the result of the sacraments and not from Bible reading.

I've had a question for some time and I ought to ask privately ... maybe you can answer privately: do you think a Catholic can read the Bible much without being offended by it? Or do you think that Catholicism is so at odds with the Bible that a good Catholic can't even really pick it up to read? I am very curious about this. Thank you and peace.

Jennie said...

God bless you, Teresa; you are kind :) I'll try to answer in the morning, and email you about the second question. I don't know if I really can answer it though.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I think abiding in Christ means living a life that reflects the life of Christ. Your thoughts, words, and deeds are all holy, righteous, and Christ-like because of Christ living in you and you in Him. He basically takes control of your life and directs it, instead of you trying to direct your own spirituality with your own ideas of how it should be done. Reading/studying the Word is not enough. The Word has to be internalized and become a part of who you are and what you are about. That's where the Holy Spirit comes in to help you take that Word and apply it to your life, so that your life is a fulfillment of the Word.

I give an example: I am a trained physical therapist. Studying and reading about physical therapy is not enough. I have to take that knowledge and internalize it so it becomes a part of my inner thinking, and then PRACTICE the things I learn. If I do not practice, then what I learn mentally will never become a part of who I am and what I do.

Does this make sense to anyone? I know sometimes when I write it sounds a bit mysterious! LOL!

Hillary

Sue Bee said...

What I found most interesting about it, was that she says repeatedly that Christians bear good fruit automatically. Then in that one article, she says that they sometimes bear good fruit, and sometimes bad. How exactly does that work??

My theory is prevenient grace.

Candy’s view of the work of the Holy Spirit is very different, very diminished, from the views of RC or Lutheran churches. Candy has said, “When a person really gets saved/born again, then the very Holy Spirit of God Himself indwells that new creature in Christ. Suddenly this person is given gifts from the Holy Spirit. Often one of those gifts is the gift of discernment - to discern true evil from true good.”

From what she has said I gather she believes we are able to convert ourselves into believers and then the job of the Holy Spirit is to give the believer gifts (but only to those who truly converted themselves). These gifts then help the believer live a holy life. This would explain the “sanctify myself” comment a few weeks back, and also why the Christian is the one who gets credit to the good fruits rather than God working through the Christian.

Prevenient grace, in my understanding, assumes we are holy enough by nature to come to God without the Holy Spirit. It is found in the theology of the Arminian churches (Methodists, Pentecostals, Nazarenes).

To me in Lutheran Land, it all sounds very humanistic.

Sue Bee said...

Jennie said in Chinese: Brother had been committed more than a strong city is difficult to win, and the race is like a castle bar.

Hmmm...I'll have to consider that.
;-)

Jennie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennie said...

Good job Sue Bee! My translation says: Brothers are offended are difficult to win compared to a strong city, and the contention is likely the castle bar. (i don't know why they're fighting over the castle bar)

It's what I got putting in this on babelfish.yahoo.com: Proverbs 18:19
A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Jennie said...

Teresa said,
The difference, then, I think is one's interpretation of John 15, especially verse 7, where Christ speaks of his words abiding in his disciples. 1 John 2:14 also speaks of the word of God abiding in the "strong, young men" (KJV).

Well, John 15:7 does say 'words' which would definitely apply to scriptures for US. For the ones listening to Him back then, of course, it was His spoken word. I think of Jesus, the scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and even other believers as being part of His words abiding in us. All are interelated because His Spirit uses the words of scripture to teach us and helps us to obey and make them part of our being. The Spirit unites believers with Christ and with each other. I believe the sacraments are a sign of this unity, and are also part of being obedient by faith, along with loving God and each other. I believe all these things are part of abiding in Him and His words abiding in us. Even if we haven't read a certain part of scripture, if we are abiding in Christ in all these ways, the Spirit can bring the words to our heart and mind. My husband experienced this when he was struggling with an issue and praying for days. Verses came into his mind while he was walking and praying. Later he looked them up and found the exact words in scripture. He can also use other believers to help and exhort each other in this way, to speak the truth to each other.
The same thing applies in the 1 John passage. The word of God abides in us by the Spirit, the scriptures 'hidden in our hearts that we might not sin against God', obeying God's commands to love God and each other, and His commands to remember His death and His coming together in unity, as well as our first act of faith and obedience which is baptism. We are saved first by grace through faith, and we continue in being sanctified by grace (His help) by faith as we obey Him in all these things. I hope this makes sense.

Kelly said...

Am I typing in a foreign language? It's like I'm one of those Chinese people that keep posting and everyone ignores them.

I'm not trying to ignore you. Frankly, I have agreed with everything that everyone has posted. That made me think that I must have missed something. I thought about re-reading it all, but that sounded like too much work. So I took a nap instead.

Sorry, but some days are like that around here. Plus, I have to plan my lesson on purgatory for the adult ed class tomorrow. Last week they all told me that they thought purgatory had been abolished by Vatican II. So see, Jennie, you don't have to lay awake nights worrying about Catholics thinking purgatory=get of hell free card!

Jennie said...

Thanks Kelly,
I was worried that I had offended everyone somehow; but maybe if I haven't managed to totally alienate ya'll by now with everything I've already said, maybe it isn't so easy to do.
There seems to be as big a variety of beliefs in the Catholic Church as there are outside it. My brother reverted to Catholicism a few years ago, and he says he doesn't believe in purgatory.