Many argue that once you believe in God you are saved and there now remains nothing more to be done. They may live as they desire because God is forgiving. While it is true God holds those who are truly His secure in salvation, the evidence of this is a pure and repentant walk with Him. The act of good works and keeping yourself clean daily from sin is proof of your salvation. That His Spirit is within.
God does the work of refinement and salvation within, but this does not mean you can now live and do as you wish, then go to Heaven in the end. God has requirements for you to follow. Even more than that, the fulfillment of your salvation is that you obey His commands. It takes faith in God to please Him and you must act upon that faith to prove yourself genuine.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28
It is God who does the saving and the changing. But you must do the hard work of turning away from your sins. Just as you must seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. You must repent and resist wickedness. It is God who cleanses and sanctifies. But you are responsible to obey His commands, precepts, and holy ways. It is not a sacrifice for nothing, God richly rewards those who follow Him diligently.
It is God who guides your steps. But you must master your mind, flesh, and lips to live in His righteousness and purity step by step, not turning to the right or left. God will help you, giving you the strength, and ability to carry it out. But it is your job to resist temptation and turn toward Him to obey.
It’s hard work, but someone has to do it. Yes, that would be you, since you are responsible for yourself. Don’t think that just because grace and forgiveness have come that His holy Law has been lowered or eliminated.
No, Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Let me give you an example from life. If you bring a dress shirt for a tux to the Laundry Mat they will clean it. But once it is back in your hands it is your responsibility to keep it clean. If you get it dirty again, you must clean it again before you would use it at a wedding. Most people would never wear a grimy and dirty dress shirt when they should be looking their best. It would be disgraceful.
This is true in your life. If you become grimy because of sin, you are not presentable to God as holy. You must be cleansed from your sins through repentance every time you sin. Thank God He is always willing to forgive, forget, and cleanse you as He has promised.
It is both the work of God and your faith in action that accomplishes this. The reason why you should obey Him is from your gratitude, as a humble servant of the Lord, and because it is His command. But more than that you must rely on the Holy Spirit. He will transform you from who you used to be, an unrighteous sinner, to what He desired you to be, a reflection of His image. This comes by the measure of faith you have in Him and the effort you put in. But if you do not seek to change and accomplish the change you were never changed.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17
He wants you to be clean but you must be diligent to keep yourself clean by continuous repentance. Unfortunately, your sinful nature and flesh are still present and the devil is on a mission to completely ruin your testimony with all kinds of temptations, day in and day out.
Resist him firm in your faith. Put your faith into action by struggling to do what is right. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you to help you. Call out to Him in faith and He will answer you. He will help you stay righteous and clean in His eyes. Take action against the devil, guarding your mind, heart, and actions against evil.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:7-10
Remember, action without faith is dead and faith without action is dead. You must have faith in God and then prove yourself faithful by obeying His commands. Those who claim Christ but do not obey Him actually hate Him and are still in rebellion. They may believe in God but if they break His commands and continue to lie, steal, lust, hate, cheat, manipulate, and all things that God calls wicked without turning back to Him are hypocrites.
They are like a person who puts on a clean white tux for their wedding and then goes to wrestle with pigs in the mud. Afterward, they think they are presentable to go to their wedding without cleaning themselves first. But it is obvious that they do not care about cleanliness or the one they are joining themselves to.
In this example, the false believer does not care about righteousness and God’s holy requirements as His servant. He continues to sin without regard for how God has told him to live. If you have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit you will care about righteousness and obeying His commands. So put your faith in action and do as He commands.
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22