This is what God gave me today in his word:
The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned! (Lamentations 5:16)
Why would God, our God, cause His chosen people to “loose the crown”? It doesn’t seem to make sense, sure they sinned and turned away from him to idols, but is that worthy of total annihilation?
But you, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations. (Lamentations 5:19)
So that’s why God would let the crown go from His people. Yes, to punish them, but also it seems to teach them a lesson. They’re mortal, he isn’t. In short, they should shape up now and do good before they actually are “no more”. But does that apply to us? Do we too need to hurry up, repent, and start doing good? Well, in fact, to a certain extent yes. But not in the context you’re probably thinking of now:
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
Looking at it from God’s point of view, we have a small speck of time in which to repent. So from that perspective we do need to “hurry up and be saved”, but are good works required for repenting and salvation? According the above verse it seems that we need to in essence “prove” we have faith by our actions, but are good works required for salvation? Well, is faith required for salvation?
28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (Romans 3:28-30)
Now it seems we have to conflicting passages, the one says faith without works is dead. Yet the other says works are not required for salvation, and only faith is needed. Well let’s dissect this:
We are justified, or, “saved” by faith in Jesus alone. Yet that faith is not true faith, unless it is accompanied by works. No work’s “under the law” are required for salvation, instead works of the Spirit are required.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
So what’s the conclusion? – The Israelites required works of the law to be saved, we require only faith. And when we have faith, God sends his Spirit into us so that we back our faith in him, with works for him. That’s why faith without works is visibly dead; If you don’t have the Spirit of God working in you, even if he only causes you to say a nice word instead of angry one, you don’t have true faith.
It’s important not to “fall off” on either side; either that we are saved by works alone (that’s the law perspective), or that nothing is required of us at all.
You are loved!