Summary: Romans teaches us that we are "justified by faith" rather than by works. But shouldn’t holy people do holy things? And don’t good deeds please God? So, why wouldn’t good works justify us before God?
OPEN: Comedian Ken Davis tells of the time he gave a speech in his college class. The title of his talk was, "The Law of the Pendulum."
For 20 minutes he carefully explained the principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.
As part of his presentation, Davis attached a 3-foot string to a child’s toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard. He then pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where he let it go. Each time it swung back he made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When he finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved his thesis.
He then asked how many people in the room BELIEVED the law of the pendulum was true. All of my classmates raised their hands, AND so did the professor. The teacher then started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had just begun.
Hanging from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum (250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord.). Davis invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Then he brought the 250 pounds of metal up to his nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from his face he once again explained the law of the pendulum: "If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger."
After that final restatement of this law, Davis looked the Professor in the eye and asked, "Sir, do you believe this law is true?"
There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, "Yes."
At that point Davis released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back.
“I never saw a man move so fast in my life. He literally dived from the table.” Said Davis.
Deftly stepping around the still-swinging pendulum, Davis then asked the class, "Does he believe in the law of the pendulum?"
The students unanimously answered, "NO!" (Ken Davis, How To Speak To Youth, pp 104-106.)
APPLY: When it came to the law of the Pendulum what did that Professor believe?
He believed that pendulum was going to hurt him... and so he ran.
What he believed dictated how he behaved… and where he went.
In Romans 3 – Paul is telling the same thing is true about what we “believe”
When it comes to Christianity… people believe one of two things:
1. They either believe that their FAITH in Jesus will make them acceptable to God…
2. OR they believe the number of good WORKS will make them acceptable and make it so that God will love them.
The repeated message throughout the New Testament is:
Good works are good… but faith is better.
Good works will not save you (says Scripture)
Good works will not make you righteous before God
Good works will not make God love you more or less.
Romans 3:20 says: “…no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law…”
AND Titus 3:5 tells us:
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…”
Now that seems to go against all common sense.
Godly people should do Godly things shouldn’t they?
And if a Christian doesn’t do “good things” they’re probably hypocrites aren’t they?
Inherently everybody realizes that a holy God wants His people to do “holy things”, therefore… it would just make sense that the more “righteous things” we do the happier God gonna be…. the more He’s going to love us… AND the more justified you’ll be in His sight.
That’s one of the reasons ALL the other world’s great religions teach that UNLESS you do a certain number of good works you’ll never please God and you’ll never see heaven (in whatever form that may be for them.