Romans 2:6-8 “God will repay everyone based on their works. On the one hand, he will give eternal life to those who look for glory, honor, and immortality based on their patient good work. But on the other hand, there will be wrath and anger for those who obey wickedness instead of the truth because they are acting out of selfishness and disobedience.” (CEB)
Our actions in this life have eternal consequences. God is righteous and holy. Because of His righteousness and holiness, nothing that is unrighteous or unholy can be in His presence.
From the moment you were born, all of your deeds are recorded in God’s history book. Once you come to a place in your life where you decide to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, your actions and attitudes must change to be in line with God’s righteousness and holiness.
Eternal life is the ultimate reward for the Christ-follower. It is the Christ-follower who seeks glory, honor, and immortality. Although salvation and eternal life are not solely predicated upon being a good person and doing good works, it is the change of heart and the decision to have a relationship with Christ that should prompt you to do good works and to stay away from wickedness.
A true Christ-follower will reflect his or her decision to follow Christ by their actions. If someone claims to be a devoted follower of Christ yet continues to live life by doing wicked things such as being unjust, behaving wickedly, being greedy, being jealous, fighting, deceiving, gossiping, slandering, being rude, proud, disobedient and disloyal, among other things, then that claim is false and that person has not had a true change of heart. It is a self-deception to think that you are “saved” if you persist in doing evil actions. This doesn’t mean that by not doing these things and living a good life you are deserving of eternal life either.
Your good works should be a reflection of an internal, spiritual change that is brought about by the Holy Spirit once you make a real decision to change your ways and follow Christ.
First, if the “why” or reason you are living a good life, doing good deeds and not doing wicked things, the “what”, is to be rewarded with eternal life based on a sense of earning the reward, then you are on the wrong track. This would be a selfish attitude, elevating yourself, believing that you deserve a reward for doing good things and thus a form of self-worship.
The other “why” for doing good works is based solely on a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Your right actions are caused by your decision to follow Christ. The change of heart comes first and the actions are the outward evidence of that change of heart. Your actions should not be done with an eye on being rewarded for them but rather your actions must be solely based on a desire to please and worship God with your actions and your life.
The “why” is more important than the “what”. God sees the motives for our actions and we should look at our own motives for doing what we do. Examine your motives for doing good. Is it because it makes you “feel” good? Is it because you expect a reward for doing good” Is it because you don’t want something “bad” to happen to you? The common thread throughout these three questions is that they are focused on you – the self- and that is self-worship and idolatry.
The motive for doing good should be based only on a sincere desire to please God regardless of any recompense or feeling you may receive.