“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” No person sets out to do what seems wrong; instead, a person performs those acts which seem right. [Before you argue that persons like Osama bin Ladin do only evil things which can not possibly “seem right,” remember that Osama truly believed that his actions against “infidels” were sanctioned by his god. The way in which bin Ladin worshiped his god seemed right to him.] Along this line, my actions seem right to me, though they are wrong “and in the end lead to death” according to the Lord. Why? Because my ways are not His ways; my thoughts are not His thoughts. In and of myself, I am incapable of pleasing the Lord God.
God “shows us what is good. And what does the Lord require of [us]? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God.” (Micah 6:8) God says, “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.” (Proverbs 29:23) Our pride — our trust in ourselves — can cause us to doubt that “every Word of God is flawless” and that “[God] is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
“[God] is a shield around [us]; He bestows glory on [us] and lifts up [our] heads. To the Lord [we] cry aloud, and He answers [us] from His holy hill.” (Psalm 3:3-4) “Because the Lord sustains [us], [we] will not fear.” (Psalm 3:5,6) “From the Lord comes deliverance. May [HIs] blessing be on [us.]” (Psalm 3:8)
“Think your way to a sober estimate based on the measure of faith that God deals to each of you,” writes Paul. He tells us, “Do not be conceited or think too highly of yourself.”
After all, our gifts “are allotted to us by God’s grace, and must be exercised accordingly.” (Romans 12: 6)
Each gift is designed and given by God for the benefit of all — no gift goes unneeded though many go unappreciated. One gift is not like the others, but each is uniquely individual. Each is to be exercised through God’s grace “with all [one’s] heart,” “based on the measure of faith that God has dealt each of you,” “in proportion to [one’s] faith,” “with all [one’s] heart,” and “cheerfully.” (Romans 12: 3, 7, 8)
No gift is to be lifted up as superior to another. Paul writes, “Give pride of place to one another in esteem.” (Romans 12: 10) He reminds, “Do not be haughty, but go about with humble folk. Do not keep thinking how wise you are.” (Romans 12: 16)
Remember, “he who loves his neighbor satisfies every claim of the law.” (Romans 13: 8)
We are saved before time begins in Christ Jesus who is with God and is God. As John writes, “In the beginning is the Word, and the Word is with God, and the Word is God.” (John 1: 1)
Paul tells us that our salvation is not due to our works, but completely rests on Christ’s finished work, which is God’s purpose and will.
“For [God] chooses us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestines us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favors us with in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1: 4 – 6)
Paul calls us to be strong in God’s grace, keeping ourselves from entanglement in the affairs of the world so that we are “set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2: 1, 21)
For the good works we do are prepared in advance for us by our Heavenly Father, and performed by the power of His Holy Spirit through the grace of His Beloved Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
What is clearer than Paul’s extraordinary statement of truth — that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
That faith itself is a gift of God is clear — yet is also one of the stumbling blocks of the Christian walk. The concept that God gives us our faith in His Son causes great consternation. How is it that God gives us this gift? Why does He give it to some, but not to others? How is this fair? Paul asks and answers these questions in his letters to the Romans.
“No one can boast.”
This is ultimately the truth we should find in the Word of God. No one is able to stand in the presence of God unless God Himself has willed it. Job’s friends try to discover Job’s secret sin, the cause of all his suffering. Job continues to protest that he is righteous and has done no wrong. In the end, God challenges Job to explain the universe and to recognize that God has every right to do with His creation whatever He wishes.
God is the potter; we are the clay.
“No one can boast.”
In the end, Job repents in dust and ashes.
Paul adds, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2: 10)
Not only has God created us, given us faith in His Son; but He has also created the good works we are to do while we are alive on this earth. God has a plan, like any exceptional craftsman. He knows His work; He has an end result in His creative mind.