By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
Of course not! While it is true that we are saved by faith and not by works (Romans 4:5), this does not mean that we can therefore go on living any way we wish. Believers relish in the great grace by which we were saved. God has lavished his love on us even while we were sinners, he sent Christ to die on our behalf (Romans 5:8). In light of this act of grace performed on our behalf, we are called to a higher calling, a calling in which we live for the Lord who saved us.
The question of sinning all we want in light of God’s amazing grace is addressed in scripture since this was the faulty understanding of Christianity’s critics. While Christians taught that we were saved by grace through faith, and not by the works of the law, it was wrongly assumed by critics that Christians also taught that it did not matter therefore, how we live our lives. The apostle Paul addressed this issue directly:
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him in baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life.” (Romans 5:21)
Here Paul, after addressing the issue of the great freedom that we have in Christ, highlighting the reality that when sin increased, grace abounded even more so, emphasized the reality that those who are in Christ (those whose are saved), were baptized into his death. How does this truth relate to our initial question? Paul explains the implications of being baptized into the death of Christ, he says, “IN ORDER THAT…” just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life.
In other words, while we are not saved by our works, we are definitely saved “unto” good works. Our old life is gone and we have died with Christ, and have been raised to walk after a new fashion; one that is honoring and glorifying to the one who saved us. It is because God has shown us grace in Christ and have saved us by faith, that the response of a truly saved person with a changed heart is to live a life of good works out of genuine gratitude and love for God.
For those who think that because they were “saved”, that therefore they are free to sin all they want are in for a big surprise when they meet the Lord Jesus either upon death or the Second Coming. Jesus taught that “a tree is known by its fruit” (Luke 6:43-45). A truly saved person will evidence their salvation by their works. A truly saved person, while not morally perfect, has a heart directed towards pleasing God and are genuinely grieved when they sin. However, one is deceived when one uses the grace and love of God as a license to sin.
We need to remember that our good works are the fruit of our salvation, not the root of it. However, if the fruit that we are producing is rotten, that says a lot about the nature of the root.