Quotes about Works-Good-Negative


Good deeds are such things that no man is saved for them, nor without them.


The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.


The same Christian activity can be either an expression of our own righteousness that we think earns favor with God, or it can be an expression of love and gratitude because we already have His favor through the righteousness of Christ.


Till men have faith in Christ, their best services are but glorious sins.


Man’s method of sanctification is by law, God’s method of sanctification is by the Gospel; the former is by works, the latter is by faith, unto works.


Works make not the heart good, but a good heart makes the works good.


All our works before repentance are dead works (Hebrews 6:1). And these works have no true beauty in them, with whatsoever gloss they may appear to a natural eye. A dead body may have something of the features and beauty of a living, but it is but the beauty of a carcass, not of a man… Since man, therefore, is spiritually dead, he cannot perform a living service. As a natural death does incapacitate for natural actions, so a spiritual death must incapacitate for spiritual actions.


Consider diligently these words, without works, by faith only, freely we receive remission of our sins. What can be spoken more plainly, than to say, that freely without works, by faith only, we obtain remission of our sins? 


The difference between grace and works is the difference between worship and idolatry. The man inebriated with the thought that all he has is Yahweh’s gift finds himself repeatedly on his knees, adoring, thanking, praising. But if we do not grasp grace we plummet into idolatry, for that is the inevitable corollary of self-sufficiency.


Every other religion in the world is the religion of “do,” but …Christianity alone is the religion of “done.”


I have taken all of my bad deeds and put them on a heap, and I have taken my good deeds as well, and I have put them on the same heap. And I have run away from that heap into the arms of Jesus. I die in peace.


One man may appear to be righteous before another man, but before God there is no one truly righteous. The only righteousness that God accepts is His own. To stand before God in our own righteousness is certain rejection.


Moralism – the idea that we merit God’s favor by being good – is the deadly enemy of [the] Christian… Moralism trusts in its own goodness, virtue, and principled intentions to get a “not guilty” verdict from God on the Day of Judgment. It is deceptive. A cloak of morality over an unregenerate heart can make it difficult to discern [one’s] true spiritual condition.


I dare say that the best faith, or the highest degree of sanctification to which a believer ever attained on earth, considered in itself, is worthy of God’s eternal wrath!


Works in [the] negative sense…means thinking that God saves us based on some attitude or activity or ethnic heritage or anything else we might think makes us deserving of God’s love.


Pride wants to earn divine acceptance; humility simply believes it.


The most damnable and pernicious heresy that has ever plagued the mind of man was the idea that somehow he could make himself good enough to deserve to live with an all-holy God.


For almost twenty years and I still feel the old clinging dirt of wanting to deal with God that I may contribute something, so that He will have to give me His grace in exchange for my holiness. And still I cannot get into my head that I should surrender myself completely to sheer grace.


Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works.


It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his good works unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil to the point that he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s


Even the good deeds unbelievers perform are not truly a fulfillment of God’s law, because they are produced by the flesh, for selfish reasons, and from a heart that is in rebellion.



Even the good deeds unbelievers perform are not truly a fulfillment of God’s law, because they are produced by the flesh, for selfish reasons, and from a heart that is in rebellion.


Only believers controlled by the Holy Spirit can do genuine good works… Unbelievers can do bad things for bad reasons. They can also do good things, but only out of selfish pride, not for God’s glory. Only the redeemed can do good deeds motivated by a desire to glorify God.


Do not confound work and fruit. There may be a good deal of work for Christ that is not the fruit of the heavenly Vine.


Trying to be holy from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.


The best duties of unbelievers are but white lies.


Every good deed we do in dependence on God does just the opposite of paying Him back; it puts us ever deeper in debt to His grace. And that is exactly where God wants us to be through all eternity.


Whatever merit they may see in their own works here in this world, they discover none in them when they stand before the bar of Christ. The light of that great day of assize will make a wonderful difference in the appearance of all their doings. It will strip off the tinsel, shrivel up the complexion, expose the rottenness, of many a deed that is now called good. Their wheat will prove nothing but chaff. Their gold will be found nothing but dross. Millions of so-called Christian actions will turn out to have been utterly defective and graceless. They passed current, and were valued among men. They will prove light and worthless in the balance of God. They will be found to have been like the whitened sepulchers of old, fair and beautiful without, but full of corruption within. Alas, for the man who can look forward to the Day of Judgment, and lean his soul in the smallest degree on anything of his own!


Our best works before we are justified are little better than splendid sins.


He must cast away all pride and high thoughts, and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another… He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible-reading, church-going, and sacrament-receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.


Ah, how would natural men soar to heaven – upon the pinions of their own merit! The sunbeams of Divine justice – will soon melt such weak and wax wings!


A true Christian stands at as great distance from trusting in the best of his services as in the worst of his sins! He knows that the greatest part of his holiness will not make the least part of his justifying righteousness.


Why is salvation all of God’s grace and not based in any part on our own works? 1. Because you and I have sin that God will never accept in His holy presence. 2. Because the standard of righteousness required is God Himself. 3. Because, Ephesians 2:9, God does not want us to boast, but rather saves us, “So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).  4. Because a love relationship is never based on the works one gives another. 5. Because we will forever wonder if we did enough good deeds. 6. And because if we could save ourselves based on our works, there would have been no reason to send Jesus Christ.


The bottom line is that we are all hardwired to reject the complete and freely given righteousness of God in a desire to establish our own righteousness (Rom. 10:3). Like Adam and Eve, we search frantically for fig leaves to cover our spiritual nakedness. We think we need to do stuff or rest on our past spiritual achievements to receive God’s love. Deceived by our pride and our feelings, we rob glory from Jesus Christ and seek to find a false sense of peace in our own adequacy.



All false religion is based on works to achieve God’s favor. And when you base it on works you will either use God’s Word as a means to obtain God’s favor or ignore God Word and create your own expectations. Both are deadly because both short-circuit God method of grace.



Some will say we need to add “good works” to Christ’s work to be saved. Others will say since we are saved by God’s grace and because all of our sins are already forgiven in Christ we can live as we wish. So, the first says following God’s law is necessary to be saved. The other says following God’s law is unnecessary once saved. Both are terribly wrong! We are saved by grace alone, but the grace that saves is never alone. God’s grace will always give us the desire and ability to follow God. The greatest evidence that we are recipients of God’s grace will be seen through our obedience – not to get saved or stay saved, but proof that we truly are already saved.



In Philippians 3, Paul explained how his “righteous merit” exceeded any on the planet. If anyone could have earned heaven it would have been him. Yet Paul knew we can never earn God’s favor. The only hope we have is the righteousness of Jesus Christ given to us as a gift when we embrace Him by faith. Though the specifics are different, the boasts are the same: I was born in America. I grew up in a devout Christian family. I was baptized. I read my Bible and pray every morning. I faithfully attend church. I serve in the church. I participate in the Lord’s Supper each month. I am blameless in my obedience to the Scriptures. All of these are excellent, but when we use them to earn God’s saving favor, they are but “rubbish.”


Salvation is achieved either through our work or God’s work. And since salvation is only and entirely a work of God, anything we relied upon for merit actually competes with and cancels out the work of God.


Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God’s grace and God’s grace alone for our salvation. It is difficult for our pride to rest on grace. Grace is for other people – for beggars. We don’t want to live by a heavenly welfare system. We want to earn our own way and atone for our own sins. We like to think that we will go to heaven because we deserve to be there.


Beware of self-righteousness. The black devil of licentiousness destroys his hundreds, but the white devil of self-righteousness destroys his thousands.


Morality is a neat cover for foul venom, but it does not alter the fact that the heart is vile, and the man himself is under damnation. Men will be damned with good works as well as without them, if they make them their confidence [rather than Jesus Christ].


Believing right doctrine will no more save you, than doing good works will save you.


The heir of heaven serves his Lord simply out of gratitude; he has no salvation to gain, no heaven to lose; … now, out of love to the God who chose him, and who gave so great a price for his redemption, he desires to lay out himself entirely to his Master’s service. O you who are seeking salvation by the works of the law, what a miserable life your must be!… you have that if you diligently persevere in obedience, you may perhaps obtain eternal life, though, alas! None of you dare to pretend that you have attained it. You toil and toil and toil, but you never get that which you toil after, and you never will, for, “by the works of the law there shall no flesh living be justified”… The child of God works not for life; he does not work to be saved, he works because he is saved.


Our best performances are so stained with sin, that it is hard to know whether they are good works or bad works.


In contrast to the two commands of Christ, the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws… By the time Christ came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws.

1. New laws continually need to be invented for new situations.

2. Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men.

3. It reduces a person’s ability to personally discern.

4. It creates a judgmental spirit.

5. The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law.

6. It produces inconsistencies.

7. It created a false standard of righteousness.

8. It became a burden to the Jews.

9. It was strictly external.

10. It was rejected by Christ.


I have seen many men work without praying, though I have never seen any good come out of it; but I have never seen a man pray without working


A man may go to hell with baptismal water upon his face.


There is, indeed, mention made of a mercy-seat in the temple, but there was never heard of any school of merit but in the chapel of Antichrist.


Thou…seest more defilement in my [good works] than I ever saw in any of my sins.


For an act to be good, it must arise from good motives. And one of those motives must be the glory of God. Where that motive is missing, every act has a fatal flaw. An unsaved man may have some good motives in what he does. That is, he may do something for the sake of others. That is fine, as far as it goes. We do not want to deny that. But it does not go far enough. God commands, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). But each thing the unbeliever does breaks this command. For that reason, he never once pleases God.


Works? Works? A man get to heaven by works? I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand!