Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Two Justifications for believers? One for our person - Another for our good works?

On the sidebar of this blog is a quote from John Calvin that has caused confusion to some readers. The question that arises is, "Is Calvin saying there are two separate justifications for believers?" That is, is there one justification for the person of the believer and a separate and subsequent justification for his good works? The quote is:
In short, I affirm, that not by our own merit but by faith alone, are both our persons and works justified; and that the justification of works depends on the justification of the person, as the effect on the cause. (John Calvin, Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote)
Calvin explains from his commentary comments on verse 2 Corinthians 5:10 - [We must all stand before Christ to be judged. Everyone will get what they should. They will be paid for whatever they did—good or bad—when they lived in this earthly body.]
As the passage relates to the recompensing of deeds, we must notice briefly, that, as evil deeds are punished by God, so also good deeds are rewarded, but for a different reason; for evil deeds are requited with the punishment that they deserve, but God in rewarding good deeds does not look to merit or worthiness. For no work is so full and complete in all its parts as to be deservedly well-pleasing to him, and farther, there is no one whose works are in themselves well-pleasing to God, unless he render satisfaction to the whole law. Now no one is found to be thus perfect. Hence the only resource is in his accepting us through unmerited goodness, and justifying us, by not imputing to us our sins. After he has received us into favor, he receives our works also by a gracious acceptance. It is on this that the reward hinges. There is, therefore, no inconsistency in saying, that he rewards good works, provided we understand that mankind, nevertheless, obtain eternal life gratuitously. On this point I have expressed myself more fully in the preceding Epistle, and my Institutes will furnish a full discussion of it.
As shown in the diagram at the upper right, it is precisely because we are justified by God's grace through faith alone in Christ (A) that God also justly and graciously looks upon or accepts those works done by us (B), those good works of ours that Scripture defines as good (WCF 16.1) - not for any perfection or merit that is in them but due solely to the forgiveness of sins wrought for us in Christ. The latter (B) flows from the former (A) as a necessary consequence and benefit of our justification. As Calvin notes, this justification or acceptance in Christ is effected for both our person and our works inasmuch as God in Christ is "not imputing to us our sins." Thus God graciously forgives us for those acts (thought, word, and deed), which violate his moral law as well as not imputing to us the imperfections or the remnant of sin, which resides within even our best good works (WCF 16.5,6).


  1. I agree with Fesko that II Corinthians 5:10 in context has to do with the need to evangelize unbelievers, and not with a threat of future judgment. "We must all stand before Christ to be judged." Those who have believed the gospel have already been judged. Having legally passed from death to life, they will not come into the judgment. (John 5:24)


    Fesko----The resurrection of the church is not the anticipation of the issue of judgment, but is de jure the final judgment. As Herman Bavinck writes, “The resurrection of the dead in general, therefore, is primarily a judicial act of God.”

    The resurrection is not the penultimate event prior to the final
    judgment; the resurrection is the final judgment.

    We must correlate the resurrection with the fact that those who place
    their faith in Christ have already been raised and seated with him in the heavenly places (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 2:6). Were a person guilty of sin and worthy of condemnation, he would neither be raised with Christ nor seated with him in the heavenly places. We have been raised, of course, according to our inner man. Our outer man is wasting away and awaits the redemption of the body, the resurrection (2 Cor. 4:16-5:5). The resurrection of believers, then, is the visible manifestation of those who are already raised with Christ.

    “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19). The revelation of the sons of God occurs, not after the final judgment, but at the resurrection (Rom. 8:23).

    The resurrection transformation of believers is something that occurs in an instant: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, andthe dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:52). Those who are in Christ are immediately transformed and receive their glorified bodies.

    “But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel. 12: 1-2).The resurrection is a judgment unto itself, in that as the earth yields up the dead there is already a known separation between the righteous and the condemned.

    It is not, resurrection → judgment → glorification but rather
    even before the resurrection the status of those who rise from the dead is already known. Once again resurrection is coterminous with glorification for some whereas judgment is coeval with resurrection for others. We find this same pattern in Christ’s teaching on the resurrection: “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29)

    The resurrection is not the penultimate step before the final
    judgment but instead... it visibly reveals what has come with the first advent of Christ: the righteous are instantaneously clothed in immortality, they receive a glorified body, and the wicked are raised but are naked, they are not glorified. God need not utter a word; the condemned status of the wicked is immediately evident as is the justified status of the righteous.

    1. Fesko and Calvin aren't at odds here. Calvin isn't talking about the "threat" of future judgment for believers. Indeed he makes the point that believers having been justified can be assured that their good works are also acceptable to God by the same grace. Calvin writes in his Institutes concerning the confidence and boldness believers are to have as they approach the judgment-seat of God:

      "Paul commends the grace of God, in that he gave the price of redemption in the death of Christ; and he exhorts us to flee to his blood, that having obtained righteousness, we may appear boldly before the judgment-seat of God."

      And Calvin in another place:
      "The principal hinge on which faith turns is this: We must not suppose that any promises of mercy which the Lord offers are only true out of us, and not at all in us: we should rather make them ours by inwardly embracing them. In this way only is engendered that confidence which he elsewhere terms peace, (Romans 5:1;) though perhaps he rather means to make peace follow from it. This is the security which quiets and calms the conscience in the view of the judgment of God, and without which it is necessarily vexed and almost torn with tumultuous dread, unless when it happens to slumber for a moment, forgetful both of God and of itself."

      "Hence, wherever sin is, there also are the wrath and vengeance of God. He, on the other hand, is justified who is regarded not as a sinner, but as righteous, and as such stands acquitted at the judgment-seat of God, where all sinners are condemned."

      And finally:
      "Justification, moreover, we thus define: The sinner being admitted into communion with Christ is, for his sake, reconciled to God; when purged by his blood he obtains the remission of sins, and clothed with righteousness, just as if it were his own, stands secure before the judgment-seat of heaven. Forgiveness of sins being previously given, the good works which follow have a value different from their merit, because whatever is imperfect in them is covered by the perfection of Christ"

  2. So do you agree with Fesko that there is no judgment according to works after the resurrection of justified elect persons?

    John 5: 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has the life of the age to come and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life."

    If after we are justified, God then also justifies our works, is this true also of faith? Does God justify our faith, after we are justified? For what reason would our our faith need to be justified, after we are justified?

    1. "So do you agree with Fesko that there is no judgment according to works after the resurrection of justified elect persons? "

      Absolutely. We discussed this in agreement together before and I've not (nor has Calvin) even intimated otherwise. And if you didn't already know this then you're not paying attention. Fesko and Calvin (and me) are in agreement.

      Mark - you know faith isn't a "work." What's the point? Works are defined by Scripture as loving God and loving neighbor. That is why faith and love are spoken of differently, i.e. faith (a gift that passively receives salvation from God as with an open hand)) working through love (i.e. obedience) - as in the path a Christian walks by faith. Paul tells us that we owe love not faith to others (Rom. 13:8) which done perfectly (we don't, Jesus did) is the fulfillment of the law.

      One justification and only one, which is what Calvin teaches and that means no threat of judgment of believers' works to be recompensed with either blessings or curses at the resurrection. For the elect - only vindication and a public declaration of righteousness in Christ because of Jesus's righteous works and atoning death. Again you know this. I don't know why you're looking for a needle in a haystack that doesn't exist unless (to switch metaphors) you like running down rabbit trails...

  3. Jack, I very much agree that "faith is not works". This is why I have attempted to ask the question about not only our works but about our faith. If we are going to focus on this extra aspect of "justifying not only our persons but our works", why not also focus on God "justifying not only our persons but our faith? My guess (still) is that you would not talk about God justifying our faith, and I was hoping that might make you think twice about Calvin's language on justifying our works. God justifies our person based on the merit of Christ's righteousness, no as- if about it.

    Whatever value these works have, between zero and infinity, what difference does it make what value these works have? Is it necessary for some kind of blessing or reward? If all works of all the justified elect are counted perfect, does this mean that Christ is the reward of all the justified elect equally? Or did you intend a difference between "covered by perfection" and "counted as perfect?

    I don't have much time tonight. And I can't remember all our past conversations. But I want to check your blog for discussions about "dead works". Because I think this might be a place where we end up using the same language. When I read you talking about "the justification of our works and not our persons", my first reaction is not merely disagreement but curiosity that you care about such a "needle in a haystack". And when I react to your "needle", my reaction can't help looking like a "needle" to all of us.

    To begin to think out loud (which is pretty much all I ever get done....)

    we are not justified because our works are not dead

    our works are not dead because we are justified

    but what does it matter if our works are dead or alive, since we are not justified by our works?

    Our faith is not perfect, but it does not need to be because none of our faith is the righteousness God imputes to us for our justification. God gave us faith, but the object of our faith is not that our faith has been justified. Our faith is not perfect, which is another way of saying that sinners believe the gospel , and sin even in our believing the gospel.. Since our faith is not perfect, God does not count our faith as perfect nor is there any need for God to do so.

    The resurrection when Jesus comes to earth and gives the justified elect immortality is all the "vindication" that matters. Those whose names are written in "the book of life" will not have the other books opened to check if God justified their works.

    1. "My guess (still) is that you would not talk about God justifying our faith..."

      Why only a guess?? What have I written that would leave you unclear about this (see my last comment). This is what I consider disingenuous debate on your part. You don't understand Calvin's words on works so you assume there is a doctrinal error. Not. So your solution is to assign or intimate that I think (possibly) that faith is a work needing justification? Please.

      Works are not necessary for a reward!! Indeed yes, I (and Calvin) agree. That doesn't preclude that God graciously, according to his foreknowledge, blesses some works with totally gratuitous rewards. When ask about John and James being considered to receive the reward of sitting at Jesus's side in the new kingdom Jesus replies: "but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared", i.e. predestined. There are rewards that have been ordained by God. Are they based on our merits? Never! So they must be based on God's sovereign grace.

      Paul writing in 1 Cor. 3 - concerning the "works" of apostles - speaks of "rewards":

      "If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. "

      Are the works of the apostles received for reward by God rated on merit?? No. Yet there are rewards for some of them. Hmm, how can that be?...

      I'm not writing or promoting (nor is Calvin) anything that should cause you to think I am saying something about salvation apart from the gospel of grace alone, unless of course for some reason you want to read it that way.

  4. No, I was not at all arguing that you think faith is a work. Not even Arminians say that faith is a work. Only some Calvinists, in reaction to Arminianism, will try to say that "faith is a work" in order to try to show that "faith is not the righteousness."

    I was arguing from the fact that you would NOT say that faith is justified. I was saying--neither should you say that our works are justified. Our works are not the righteousness. No need for justification of our works. Our faith is not the righteousness. No need for justification of our faith. My argument does not depend on identity between faith and work, but on the analogy of the two---neither is the righteousness.

    It is not clear to me (yet) that I misunderstand you or Calvin on this matter. Are some Christians 'blessed with rewards FOR WORKS"? If we can talk openly about that, we may get somewhere, not only in understanding what we are saying and why, but also to the question about if some in Christ get more than others in Christ, and if so, how does this relate to the "for works". If Christ's righteousness covers over (or counts as perfect) all the works of all Christians, how can there be a "congruent" relationship between works and rewards. Sure, not condign merits, I know you are NOT saying that. But if all works are justified, by being imputed with righteousness, would not the law demand that the reward be given?

    I know you agree with me that not only grace but justice demands the justification of all the elect. No, none of the elect deserve anything, but justice to Christ demands that those imputed with His righteousness be justified. So how do we get from there to the idea that grace "on the curve" rewards our works? if our works are now perfect by imputation, why say "gracious rewards"? I hate to keep only asking questions, but I really do not know, Jack, what you think about "rewards for Christians". Maybe that topic has nothing to do with your concern in this post. But I know my concern is not to accuse you of only defending Calvin. Nor is my concern to "read you in a certain way".

    Not all Reformed folks talk about "rewards" in the same way. Some of the folks who are most concerned to reject "stages or aspects of justification" (as you and I are) are most ready to explain texts by saying---this is not about justification but about rewards. I am NOT saying that you say this. That's why I am asking questions.

    I do feel bothered that, after all this time, you think "just maybe I am trying to read you the wrong way". As in, I know you are not stupid, so if you don't understand what I am saying, it must be intentional. If I know my own heart, this is not true. It seems to me that you are responding more to me than to the content of my 'thinking out loud". I did not accuse you of making faith a work. And I certainly did not claim that your emphasis on the justification of works means that you don't believe in "salvation of persons by grace alone". Not at all.

    Those whose names are written in "the book of life" will not have the other books opened to check if God justified their works

    1. Mark, a few (hopefully) short comments to your last reply.

      Maybe I just don't follow your trail of argument. When you say that you "guess" I don't talk about God justifying our faith, to me that is saying, "but maybe or possibly you do or would."

      The Bible does speak of rewards (ex. 1 Cor. 1). What are we to make of these passages? You seem to say that if there are rewards then they are "earned" in some way which goes against grace and so there are no rewards? Or that there are no rewards (gratuitous or otherwise) except Christ's righteousness imputed to us through faith. What rewards is Scripture speaking of when assigned to the deeds of the saints?

      Some thoughts: In the 1 Cor. 3 passage the reward for the worker who builds with gold, silver, and precious stones is not some special personal benefit given to him. The reward is that his work will stand the test of fire, and being refined will last into the new creation. Our obedience that is acceptable to the Lord is that which is done with a view to loving God and loving neighbor, i.e. our self is not in view. God accepts this obedience though far from sinless, by the virtue of Christ our Mediator. In other words the benefit is to another and the Lord receives it as an act of obedience done to him (Matt. 25:31-40).

      In Revelation 19:8 - "it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints." What are the "righteous deeds of the saints" that is called the fine linen the church is clothed in? Could it be the deeds of love done by the saints which though imperfect are nonetheless accepted by God as righteous because they are the deeds of blood-washed sinners/saints? So, the saints do acts of "imperfect righteousness" and they are acceptable to God because they are acts of obedience accomplished by blood-washed believers in Christ. Except for the blood of Christ nothing is acceptable (Heb. 9:18-23).

      So much for my short comments. One last thing: I think we operate upon different presuppositions. As far as I understand you, you deny the covenant of works with a promise of eternal life for perfect obedience, the covenant of grace, and the imputed righteous obedience to the law by Christ to the saints, whereas I accept them. If I'm wrong about that, do correct me. But given those differences it only makes sense that we would come up with different ways of viewing these things.

      Last. The fact that you raised the objection that there are no "other books" to open to justify works but only the Book of Life tells me you are not following me as I have said repeatedly there is only one justification unto life. There is no separate justification of works, so no other books. Besides, the rewards, if there are any, I believe based on Scripture are those blood washed acts (in Paul's case - gospel preaching and edifying the churches) that have a part in building things in this life that last because they are done with the heavenly materials of gold, silver, and precious stones out of love for the saints. Lasting into the new creation the results of those acts would be recognized as in the Matt. passage above as recognized by and acceptable to God - indeed reward enough. The response of the saints on that day?... not to say "Oh, look at my reward!", but to acknowledge that all the glory, honor, and praise - indeed all the credit - goes to the Lamb who was slain and is reigning on the throne.

  5. Jack, I think you are on the right track in talking about rewards as "results that last".

    I understand that you believe in only one justification of persons, and also that you (with Calvin) think that the justification of this person's works is based on (included in) the justification of the person. But I still don't buy your focus on our "blood bought acts".

    Jack : you deny the covenant of works with a promise of eternal life for perfect obedience,

    mark: I deny that there is a covenant of works with Adam, but not that there is a covenant of works with Christ. I know one argument that says if we deny the one with Adam then we must deny merit and justice to Christ's work, and I am as alarmed as you are when I see many folks making that conclusion. Much like you, I deny that Christ was under grace. I also insist that Christ was under law, because of the sins of the elect imputed. But as you notice, I also differ from you in putting the emphasis on the law demanding Christ's death, not on Christ's vicarious law-keeping.

    jack: You defy the covenant of grace

    mark: I teach that even the elect of the Old Testament are only saved by the death of the mediator of the new covenant. So I would teach that the new covenant is "THE covenant of grace" but your tradition have used that language to describe a covenant concept which is distinct from election. I deny that the Mosaic covenant is "an administration of the covenant of grace". The Mosaic covenant is "the old covenant", and I deny that the covenant older and before the Mosaic covenant (the Abrahamic) is an "administration of the covenant of grace". The children of the flesh are not elect to the life of the age to come.

    To use some shorthand, Jack, I reject separating "the covenant of redemption with Christ for the elect alone" from some "the covenant of grace which includes both the elect and the non-elect. " I know there are several different arguments for that distinction, but I think the most basic motivation is paedobaptist ecclesiology.

    Jack: you deny that righteous obedience to the law by Christ is imputed to the saints

    mark: I believe that Christ's finished death as satisfaction to the law is Christ's righteous obedience imputed to the saints, and I very much reject the common idea that Christ's death imputed would only make us neutral or get us back to where Adam was before the fall. I am "biblicist" enough to ask for texts which teach (even by inference) that everything Christ did is imputed to the elect for our justification. Is Christ's incarnation imputed to us? Is Christ's resurrection imputed to us? But more importantly, I object to any scheme in which Christ's righteousness is restricted to His life and does not include His act of obedience unto death. No, the law to Adam never commanded Adam's death. But Christ's righteousness is not Adam's righteousness, and Christ's righteousness very much includes His death.

    1. See my comment below on "blood bought acts."

  6. Jack: given those differences it only makes sense that we would come up with different ways of viewing these things.

    mark: despite my clarifications above, you were not wrong about my three denials. But I very much disagree that we should be content with "different ways of viewing things". I won't take the time now to express my objection to "perspectives". Yes, we disagree about the three points you mention. But does our disagreement about those three issues contribute to our disagreement about "two justifications"? Jack, I don't see how. I mean, I could say, well Jack is "Reformed", so of course we are going to think about "works with the sin taken out of them" (the fine linen) in different ways. But as of yet I don't see how this is the case.

    At the end of the day (and I know we both have limited time), your focus on "the justification of works" cannot be explained on the basis that you think "Adam could have earned the righteousness" or on the basis that "the covenant of grace is with both elect and non-elect, because the administrations were" or on the basis that you think Christ's law-keeping is the positive righteousness that entitles the justified to life. I don't see the connections.

    Whatever you think about these three issues, you believe as much as I do in the "justification of the person" by Christ's death. You are not offended by the cross, you glory in Christ's great accomplishment in His death. None of this explains (to me) why you want to talk about the justification of our works.

    You don't think faith is a work. You don't think that faith is justified when persons are justified. But you do think that their works of faith are justified when persons are justified. Is this simply the difference between "dead works" and works done with a clean conscience, or is it something more than that?

    As you know, Jack, there were folks who signed the Westminster Confession who denied vicarious law-keeping imputed. I think this means that there is variety between Reformed people, with not all of them agreeing about the three issues you have highlighted. I would suspect that there was (or would be) differences among the Reformed about this language of "blood bought acts"

    Piscator could readily agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith XI.1 that says that God does not justify sinners “for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness.”

    What, then, is the source of man’s righteousness? It is Christ’s satisfaction imputed to the believer. “God accepts Christ’s satisfaction for the elect…imputes the same unto them; and thereupon receives them into favor, and adopts them for sons and heirs of eternal life.”

    If Christ’s law-keeping is not accounted as our righteousness, then how can Christ be our righteousness? Piscator responds that when sins are forgiven, someone is counted not only as not having done any sins but also as having done all things required. “Man’s justification consists in remission of all sins: and therefore not only of sins of committing,but also of sins of omitting.”

    Piscator would NOT agree that if only Christ’s death is imputed to us, then we ourselves must supply positive righteousness. Rather, once Christ’s satisfaction is imputed to us, we are in a state of having done everything required because our sins of omission are forgiven. For Piscator, the source of our righteousness in justification is ONLY Christ’s satisfaction imputed to us.


    1. Bringing up those three points wasn't to say this disagreement stems from them, but only that this may be one more departure. WCF 16.6 more or less sums my position on good works of believers being acceptable to God, as do the identical LBCF and PCF 16.6.


  7. What are the results of this justification? For Piscator, we are not only forgiven of our sins, but we also have a right to eternal life, for when someone is justified, God “receives them into favor, and adopts them for sons and heirs of eternal life.” The reason why this can occur, according to Pisactor, is because God has said, “Do this, and you will live” (Lev. 18:5, Mt. 19:17, Gal. 3:12). “It comes about that he to whom God forgives sins, is so accounted as if he had not only committed nothing which God has forbidden in his law, but also omitted nothing of that which he has commanded: and therefore, as if he had perfectly fulfilled the law of God.”

    Jack, I have not read enough of Piscator to know what he might say about "blood bought acts". But that's my point--as long as we agree about blood-bought persons, our disagreements about these three issues you highlight is not going to predict what we say about other issues.

    As we have time, I do want to think together with you more about the 'fine linen". Fesko has been accused of misreading Beale on the topic. The more I study the text in Revelation 19, the less dogmatic I am. The more I know about Romans 7, the less I think I know what it means.

    Beale--- Receiving white clothes elsewhere in the Apocalypse precisely conveys the idea of purity resulting from a test of persevering faith(see on 3:5-6). Therefore, the white clothes here should be equated not with the ‘righteous deeds’ of perseverance, but with the result of such deeds.

    “The white robes, then, might represent TWO inextricably related realities: (1) human faithfulness and (2) vindication accomplished by God’s judgments against the enemy on behalf of his people… The context and usage of dikaoma support a meaning of ‘vindication’ Nevertheless, that Rev. 19:8b also envisions ‘righteous acts by the saints’ must not be lost sight of” (937)

    The dual sense of ‘pure linen’ in 19:8 suits admirably the rhetorical purpose of the entire Apocalypse, which includes exhortations to believers to stop soiling their garments (3:4-5) and not to be ‘found naked’ (3:18; 16:15). This is highlighted by 19:7b: ‘his bride has prepared herself.’ … this is supported by the focus on witness in v 10 and by the direct linkage in 3:4-5 of white clothing with the notion of witness (cf. likewise 3:14 with 3:18)”


  8. Mark,

    "blood bought acts"... actually my phrase was 'blood washed acts.' And it wasn't meant as an exact theological phrase nor a separate act of Christ's. Rather that because an elect sinner is accepted of God because he is under the blood, so too are his works of obedience acceptable.

    Eph. 5.9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness

    1 Peter 2.20 For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

    1 Timothy 2.2b-3 that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.

  9. Philippians 4:18 I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

    1 Peter 2:5 You yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

    Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD”

    Romans 6:20 ”For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those thing is death”

    Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we now bear FRUIT FOR GOD. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear FRUIT FOR DEATH.”

    Luke 16:15 That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God.

    John 3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever DOES WHAT IS TRUE comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

    I John 3: 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

    Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”

    Hebrews 9:14–”How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

    Jonathan Edwards—-Though it be true that the saints are rewarded for their good works, yet it is for Christ’s sake only, and not for the excellency of their works in themselves considered ....Not only higher degrees of glory in heaven, but heaven itself, is in some respect given in reward for the good works of the saints, in this secondary and derivative sense."