Salvation from sin and condemnation comes not by human good works but by divine grace, and people receive this salvation through faith (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). No good deeds that people do can remove their sin, cancel its penalty, or make them acceptable to God (Isa 64:6; Rom 3:20; 8:7-8; 9:31- 32). God forgives sin and declares people righteous solely on the basis of what Christ has done on their behalf (Rom 3:23-26; 2 Cor 5:21; see JUSTIFICATION). Once they have been saved, however, God’s will is that they do good works. In fact, this is one purpose for which God saved them (Eph 2:10; Titus 2:14).

Christians will be equipped to carry out these good works as they learn more of the nature and purposes of God through the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 3:18). Such good works will be of benefit to themselves as well as to others, and will be the means of bringing praise to God (Matt 5:16; Titus 2:7; 3:8; 1 Peter 2:12). They are one of the proofs of genuine faith (James 2:18), and arise from love and gratitude to God because of his free salvation (1 Thess 1:3; Heb 6:10). Good works are no cause for pride. They are, after all, part of the Christian’s duty (Luke 17:10). Nevertheless, Christians must carry out their good works not in a hard or legalistic spirit, but in an attitude of genuine love for others and with a clear conscience. They should be concerned with bringing praise to God, not to themselves (Rom 13:8-10; 1 Cor 10:31; Heb 13:18). In the day of judgment God will test the works, good or otherwise, of all Christians. Those they have done out of selfishness or pride will bring no lasting benefit; those they have done for God’s sake and according to his standards will bring an eternal reward (Matt 6:1; 1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 22:12; see JUDGMENT; REWARD).

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