Lots of people who don’t know their true identity in Christ believe and live out of a contrived philosophy of works and performance. They think God plus their good works is what brings God glory. If the truth be told, in my opinion and from my experience, usually the motivation for their good works is probably more about getting approval from God.
I had a friend who used to tell me, and everyone else, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” I had to bite my tongue every time I heard that platitude. First, it’s not the least bit scriptural or true. And second, it creates the impression that one has to do stuff to get help, approval or acceptance from God.
I was teaching about grace and the freedom we have in Christ one Sunday in my adult Bible study class. One of our members grew up in another faith, a legalistic, works oriented religion. She made this statement, “Okay, I hear what you’re saying, but surely there must be something we need to do to receive God’s grace.”
Obviously she did NOT hear what I was saying. Her resistance to surrendering her life to Christ and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-5) caused her to struggle with God’s grace and receive it. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing!”
Abiding is the toughest “nothing” we will ever do. But as the verses in John say, unless we do nothing in and of ourselves and just abide, we won’t produce anything worthwhile for the Kingdom of God.