Confession of Faith
Chapter 16: Of Good Works
Q 5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins,1 but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants:2 and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit;3 and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.4
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
“Can a man be profitable to God?
Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right,
or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?
If you are righteous, what do you give to him?
Or what does he receive from your hand?
Your wickedness concerns a man like yourself,
and your righteousness a son of man. (ESV)
So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand? (ESV)