Will God Forget Our Labors for Him?
By David J. Stewart | March 2007 | Updated June 2018 | Click to hear background music in a new window
"But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die." —Ezekiel 18:24
Many people misunderstand this Scripture in Ezekiel 18:24. I've heard preachers say that God will forget everything good we've ever done for Him as believers if we backslide. That's not true, as I will show you in a moment. This passage is speaking about self-righteousness. That is, if you trust in your own righteousness, God won't be impressed nor swayed by all your “many wonderful works” (Matthew 7:22b; Romans 10:3-4). We need God's righteousness! I am speaking of the blessed imputed righteousness of God, which is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!!!
Also, many Charismatics attempt to use this Scripture to support their heresy that a believer can lose his salvation. Of course, that is not true either. A believer can NEVER lose by bad works what they didn't earn by good works. Salvation is of God. Our part is to come to Jesus Christ, as guilty sinners under the condemnation of God's Law, and trust upon Him alone for salvation. It's the blood sacrifice of Jesus that takes our sins away (1st Peter 1:18-19).
If a man becomes a pastor, serves faithfully for many years, winning many lost sinners to the Lord; but then turns away from the Lord and goes into sin ... will that pastor's work be forgotten? Not on your life! There's not one Scripture in the Bible which teaches that we will lose everything if we backslide. On the contrary, the Apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." None of our labor is in vain, i.e., without reward. Jesus said in Matthew 10:42, "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Now that's a promise from God!
I know quite a few preachers who went into sin. Notice I said "went," not fell. No one FALLS into sin, which implies it was an accident. Rather, we willfully choose to walk into sin. I know several preachers who have blown it for God, their testimonies ruined by sin. Did they lose all their rewards in Heaven? No sir! Now, they shamed the name of Christ, and they will certainly weep many tears of regret and sorrow at the Judgment Seat of Christ; but their labors in the Lord were not in vain. This ought to encourage anyone who has wandered away from the Lord and gone into sin ... it's not too late to still do something for God! You can do so much for the Lord—volunteering your time to help a local New Testament church, supporting missionaries, serving in a rescue mission, et cetera. Most of all, you can and ought to be an aggressive soulwinner for the Lord. Each and every Christian is expected by God to be a soulwinner (Proverb 11:30; 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4).
Self-righteousness is a Sure Road to Hellfire!
Now let's go back to Ezekiel 18:24 again, "But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die." What does this Scripture mean then? The answer is very simple, and can be found by cross-referencing Scripture with Scripture, which is the only accurate method to properly study the Word of God. Lets look at Ezekiel 33:13, "When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it."
Now we're getting somewhere! Do you now see the true meaning of Ezekiel 18:24? Carefully notice the phrase in Ezekiel 33:13, "...if he trust to HIS OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS." God is simply saying that ALL of your self-righteous works in this life won't be remembered if you die in your sins without Jesus as your personal Savior. That's the meaning of Ezekiel 18:24. Isaiah 64:6 states, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..." Did you get that? Our self-righteousness is filth to God!!! Yes, even our goodness is filth to God. Christ not only had to die for our sins, but He also had to die for our righteousness too! Our best human effort is filth to a perfect and holy God. Man's utmost best is offensive to a holy God. The only thing that pleases God the Father is the precious redeeming blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ!!! (Hebrews 9:22; 1st Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5).
Now keep that Scripture in mind as we read a passage from Romans 10:3-4, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." This Scripture speaks of the religious unsaved, who know not the God of the Bible. These were the Pharisees of Jesus day, and the Catholics today.
So you see, in Ezekiel 18:24 God is not speaking about the believer who backslides; but rather, about the self-righteous person who is not trusting upon the righteousness with is found ONLY in Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; and all these things shall be added unto you." Jesus didn't tell us to seek our OWN righteousness; but rather, HIS righteousness. 2nd Corinthians 5:21 states, "For he hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." The only righteousness which will take you to Heaven my friend is found in Christ Jesus, not yourself or any church.
God will not remember any of your self-righteousness on judgment day. Many wonderful people who donate to charities, help abused animals, donate to the poor, and live a religious life will BURN IN HELL! Ezekiel 18:24 makes this very clear, "...if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered." Romans 3:23 declares that WE ALL commit iniquity, "For all have sinned..." James 2:10 declares that committing even ONE SIN makes us guilty of ALL SINS. Why? ... because committing even one sin makes you guilty, deserving of Hellfire (Romans 3:1; 6:23; Revelation 20:11-15). Because we are guilty and under the condemnation of God's Law, NO amount of self-righteousness can redeem our soul. We need Christ's righteousness (Romans 10:4).
The Essence Of A Christian (we don't need to forget to forgive)
The Essence Of A Christian | God Is Attracted To Weakness (precious MP3's by Dr. David Gibbs Jr.)
FORGIVENESS (MP3, Dr. Hyles, “I decided years ago to forgive everybody... before it is asked!”)
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“There is power in this
Gospel message. Most people just don't know how to
present it... The clarity of the Gospel is what makes it easy for them to believe.”
—Pastor Yankee Arnold, a precious quote from the excellent MP3 sermon titled, “WHY GRACE CAN SAVE THE WORST MAN!”
“No one's ever saved by cheap grace, they're saved by priceless amazing grace! We have a miracle salvation provided and preserved by God Himself. Let's give out the Good News of this salvation, simply and faithfully for His glory. Salvation is not cheap. God sent His Son to pay for our sins. It wasn't cheap—very expensive—He just made it free. And when you and I try to add one work to it, we cheapen it! That's when you cheapen it, when you think that it wasn't enough, I've got to add something to it!” —Pastor Yankee Arnold, a precious quote from the excellent MP3 sermon titled, “CAUGHT BETWEEN GRACE AND WORKS!” | VIDEO | MORE HELPFUL SERMONS
Caught Between Grace And Works!
(AWESOME TRUTH! By Pastor Ralph “Yankee” Arnold | MP3 - Please share with OTHERS!!!)