Why Be Good if Jesus Died?

Earlier this year, we were talking about Calvinism in History class. My teacher explained the idea of predestination to the class. Then she said, “I don’t get it. If you know you’re saved for sure, why would you need to be good?”

This is probably one of the most common questions that comes up when people talk about Protestantism. If God knows who will be saved, you are saved by grace alone, and that salvation cannot be taken away, why do you have any motivation to follow the commandments of God?

Saved by Grace

The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. Here are a few verses that say just this:

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

-Romans 3:22-25

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

-Romans 5:1-2

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

-Titus 3:5-7

Are you seeing a common theme yet? All throughout the New Testament, it is made very clear that we are not saved because of what we do or how hard we try. We are saved through faith in God because Christ died to clear us of our sins.

So good works are not what saves us.

And yet, over and over in the Bible we are give command after command after command that we are supposed to obey.

What’s up with that? Why do we have these commands if they are not what saves us?

Made for the Glory of God

Another common theme in the Bible is that humans are made for God’s glory and our purpose is to proclaim that glory.

Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be held in awe above all gods.

-1 Chronicles 16:23-25

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

-Psalm 29:1-2

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

-1 Corinthians 10:31

Our purpose on this earth, our ultimate goal as believers, is to bring glory to God. This is the only lifestyle and goal that will make us satisfied and truly, ultimately happy.

What does bringing glory to God look like? It looks like following His commands so that others will see something different about us and attribute it to him.

And when someone becomes a Christian, this becomes their desire. God changes our hearts, and flowing out of these changed hearts comes a need and desire to worship God and honor Him with our whole lives. We want to follow His commands. We want to please Him. We want to be a light in the darkness that is this world.

But I Don’t Want to Follow His Commands! Is Something Wrong With Me? Am I Actually Saved?

I think, actually, you do want to follow God’s law whether you realize it or not.

Don’t you feel guilty when you can’t do everything God asks you to? Don’t you strive to meet the Bible’s standards and feel disappointed when you don’t? Even if you really feel that life of sin would be more fun, don’t you at least feel somehow obligated to try to live how God wants you to?

Why do you feel this way? Because your heart is being changed.

It is there, no matter how small the seed is. If you are a Christian, you have a built-in desire to bring glory to God’s name through following His commands. You want to seem different to others. You want to be a light for Christ.

That is why we try to obey the Bible and avoid sin. Not because it saves us, because it won’t, but because it may be the instrument of saving others.

Because it reveals the glory of God to everyone around us.

love, grace

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