CH Spurgeon said,
The gospel does not come to us as a premium for virtue, but it presents us with forgiveness for sin. It is not a reward for health, but a medicine for sickness
Lest I elevate a personal hero to the place of authority that only God, as revealed through the Bible, should maintain in my life, let me clarify. The above is true not because Prince Charles said it, but because it’s thoroughly biblical. As I read Ephesians 2:1-10 this morning, I was reminded with the truth that my pre-salvation works were worthless, but yet after my “by grace through faith salvation,” I can walk in the good works that God has prepared for all those who are in Christ.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The gospel provides forgiveness for the wickedness described in verses 1-3 and frees us from the power of our former sinful desires. I was worldly in the truest sense; I did what I wanted to do — fulfilled the desires of my flesh and mind. Certainly, if I were to be rewarded for these works, I would receive the wages guaranteed by Romans 3:23 — spiritual death. Thankfully, though, God does not reward me for my efforts. The gospel does not give me what I deserve or else it would not be good news. Jesus gave me what He deserved, and that’s grace.