Recently I read an interesting passage in Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton:
It (Christianity) came in here as before. It came in startlingly with a sword, and clove one thing from another. It divided the crime from the criminal. The criminal we must forgive unto seventy times seven. The crime we must not forgive at all. IT was not enough that slaves who stole wine inspired partly anger and partly kindness. We must be much more angry with theft than before, and yet much kinder to thieves than before. There was room for wrath and love to run wild. And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild, (pg. 144).
Restraint opens up an opportunity to do good, not that good things save us, but we are created to for good works, but can only truly realize that in Christ. I don’t know if that is where Chesterton was going with this, but I’ll head there.
Before Christ, we tried to justify ourselves with what we perceived to be good works. But before Christ our good works are nothing, but dirty rags before Him… However the Apostle Paul declares:
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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them, (Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV).
Before we viewed our good works as something that will justify. They can’t. Now being in Christ we are free to walk in the good works that we were created in Christ to do. Works are no longer an act of justification, but worship. Being in Christ Jesus we have order as Christ reigns in our heart and our works, our acts of love, can run wild.
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