Grace verses works/efforts
                                              Our efforts
We have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf and our iniquities, like the wind take us away.                                                   Isaiah 64:4

God only accepts perfection. The best we can do, our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. What does someone do with a badly soiled garment? Throw it out; it’s garbage, not good for anything. Certainly he will not wear it, unless he is able to get the stains out. Why should God accept that? And that is the best we can do by our efforts and it will never be acceptable to God, matter of fact cannot be acceptable to God.

Even when we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ,              Ephesians 2:5
What kinds of efforts can a DEAD man conjure up? He cannot do anything because he is dead. First he has to be brought back to life. Only God can bring someone, anyone back to life. A DEAD man cannot bring himself back to life.
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written; none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; Together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Rom. 3:9-12
We are so full of our efforts, we want to do it ourselves. The world feeds us the lie; you can do it. Whatever you set your mind to, you can do it. Hardly do we realize that there are spiritual forces involved way greater and stronger than any of us. As Christians also these same forces are still around us tempting us and luring us to try to earn our salvation by our efforts or good deeds. We want to pay God back, or “feel” obligated to rely on works now. Sin and pride inside of us wants us to do something, take the credit, so we can pad ourselves on the back; you did it, you are ok now. That is not what God has arranged. He arranged for us to rely on him and depend on him in everything by his Grace and be led by his spirit into the works he arranged for us to do beforehand by his Grace.

              Salvation is by Grace, not by any of our efforts!
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a boast, but not with God. For what does the scripture say? And Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him for righteousness. (Gen. 15:6) But to one working, the reward is not imputed according to Grace, but according to debt. But to the one not working, but believing on the one justifying the ungodly, his faith is imputed for righteousness. Even as also David says of the blessing of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works; Blessed are those whose lawlessness’s have been remitted and whose sins are covered, blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.                                                                                                                                   Romans 4:2-8

Who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and Grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began and which now has been manifested through the appearing the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!                                                                                       2 Timothy 1:9
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 2:7+8

Ok, I get it, salvation is by the Grace of God, but now that I am a Christian, I have to earn my way into heaven by my Christian efforts, right?
Wrong! Just like you couldn’t earn God saving you, neither can you earn or effort your way into heaven.
Let us consider this for a moment; if it is up to you after you have become a Christian where does that leave you? On very shaky grounds, to say the least. Remember God only accepts perfection. You are always going to be; is it good enough, am I doing enough, did I repent hard enough, and it will never be enough and you will end up like a cat chasing its tail.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.                                                                                                           Ephesians 2:10
​And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.                                                                                                                                        Philippians 1:6
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.                   Philippians 2:13

That is what makes God’s Grace so amazing, it is from beginning to end!

                              Are you one of God’s sheep?
What is the sheep’s job? To follow and remain close to the shepherd, right? The shepherd calls, the sheep hear his voice and react by following him. The shepherd leads and the sheep follows. And what is the benefit the shepherd gets from the sheep? He gets milk, wool, more sheep to name a few things. And by staying with the shepherd the sheep just “naturally” produces all that, it can’t “help” it.

                                   Are you God’s servant?
A servant, after he enters into service to his master, what does he do? Well, whatever the master tells him, that’s what he does. And so must we be; staying close to our Lord and Savior, our true shepherd and for us to do what he tells us! So listen well, he may be talking to you!

                               Is God your heavenly Father?
What does a father do? Take care of his children, raise them up, and teach them the right way to go. And what do children do? Love their father, trust him, they learn to listen to him and upon growing up, they enter into their fathers business and do his work. It is not by their efforts that they are children of their father, they are children because they are born of him.

You see, someone receiving God’s Grace, they react by faith, out of thankfulness and they follow him and listen to him and they do things from a whole new motivation; Grace. And that Grace-relationship is what motivates us to do the works that God has arranged for us to walk in and we are fully aware that those works, although necessary, don’t earn us anything, don’t need to earn us anything, because God’s Grace is sufficient, what Jesus has done is all I need.