Eph. 2:8,9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
This is the stumbling stone of the gospel, we are saved by faith and our works have nothing to do with it. At the end of the day, all of us want some credit for our salvation. Surely it is something in me that warranted God choosing me. After we get saved and begin to actually have good works in our lives we want to take credit for them. If the Lord ever uses us to reach people or to build a small group or a church we start moving toward celebrity status in our minds (I speak from experience). From there we are going to fill stadiums (I can’t count the number of people who have said that). Why not be a Christian that loves and touches hurting people and remains nameless? Luther had a funny way of expressing this. He said there is an evil monk or religious fanatic living inside all of us. Here is one of his classic rants.
“None of us should be overconfident when it comes to forgetting our own good works. Each one of us carries in our heart a horrible religious fanatic. We would all like to be able to do something so spectacular that we could brag, “Look what I’ve done! With all my prayers and good works, I’ve done enough for God today that I can feel at peace.” This happens to me too after I have accomplished something in my ministry. I’m much happier than if I hadn’t done it. Being happy isn’t wrong in itself. But this joy is impure because it isn’t based on faith. It’s the kind of happiness that can make your conscience confused. Consciences are delicate. We need to guard them against the sin of arrogance. So we can’t be overconfident. We who confess Christ should always walk in fear and grow in faith. We should realize that we all carry in our hearts a horrible religious fanatic, who will destroy our faith with foolish delusions of good works.”
So have you ever seen this religious fanatic raise his ugly head in you? Few will admit it but he is there none-the-less. How do we destroy this religious fanatic? We destroy him by constantly giving glory to the Lord. It is God who is at work in us and by the grace of God we are what we are.