A Must Read - Entire article here: Dangerous pragmatism – why a transformed life is not proof of salvation
False assumption 3: A transformed life is proof of salvation
Many religions transform lives. Mormonism has produced zealous clean-living converts who would put most evangelicals to shame in their general moral conduct. And radical Islam certainly transforms the lives of those who decide to become suicide bombers – and those of their victims.
Self-help books transform lives. Here’s one not atypical comment of many concerning Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
This book changed my life. After reading this book back in 1997 my whole thinking about myself and others changed. I wish they teach this book in high school in every country in the world. Since 97 I buy this book and give it as gift to anyone I come across, especially to young people. You read it and judge it.
The religion of the Pharisees transformed lives. Yet Jesus said of them:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15, NKJV)
Clearly, Jesus didn’t approve of that particular sort of life transformation.
We should be concerned that Pharisaism, which was really all about making God’s law doable, is alive and well in far too many of today’s churches. Whenever anyone gives you five simple steps to keep God’s law (whether it is to stay out of debt, or have healthy relationships, etc.), understand that Pharisaism is the religion being offered. Likewise, when someone preaches the law and tells you to just go out and do it. But the Bible tells us that God’s law exists primarily to show us our sin – it does not have the power to make us righteous:
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20, ESV)
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. (Galatians 2:21, NKJV)
The gospel is not a formula by which we can obey God’s law and thereby become righteous. No, it is the Good News that, even though we do not obey the law, Christ kept it for us. That His perfect righteousness is put to our account, and that the wrath of God that we deserved for our sin was instead poured out upon Christ on the cross:
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26, NKJV)