Grace Alone Or Grace Plus Works?

Q. What if you believe that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone but something or someone (like Satan) keeps putting the thought in your mind that you need to do more? In other words you know what you believe but you wrestle with grace plus works. How does someone that was raised believing you had to do good works change their heart to believe that its grace alone? I know what I believe now but I still struggle.

A. The main difference between Grace alone and Grace plus works is the motive behind our behavior. Grace alone believers are motivated by the Holy Spirit to do good things as He directs and empowers us as a way of demonstrating our gratitude for the salvation we’ve been given.

John wrote that it’s our compassion for those who are suffering that shows the love of God in us, and urged us to love with action and in truth not just with spoken or written word. He said that’s what sets our heart at rest whenever our heart condemns us (1 John 3:17-20). This is an example of the Holy Spirit prompting us to express our gratitude through good deeds.

Grace plus works believers are motivated to do good things by their perceived need to complete or maintain their salvation for fear of losing what they’ve been given. Ultimately salvation becomes more dependent on their works than the Lord’s grace because they can never be sure they’ve done enough, and their hearts are never at rest.

Both are givers, but only one is relying solely on the Lord’s completed work as the assurance of their salvation. You can tell which of these motivators is active in your case by determining if it’s your compassion toward others or your fear for yourself that’s prompting your behavior. If it’s compassion, follow the direction of the Holy Spirit and you’ll feel at peace. If it’s fear, James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

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