See, the truly pure, good works of God don’t flow from your anxious conscience. Your worried conscience only twists them all up, because you’re not focused on Christ and His cross, but totally looking at yourself. The good works God bids you bring forth don’t come out of your guilty conscience. His Holy works don’t spring forth from your feeling more ashamed of yourself, beating yourself up more, or any of your own efforts to set things right again and finally make it up to God or anyone else.
All those are worry works, not from faith in Jesus. Those are guilt works, not from trust in Christ and His cross. Those are fear works, not works of love returned to the Father. All those remorse works do not flow from faith in what Jesus has done, but a faith believing you’ve gotta do more, add something to what Jesus fully accomplished and poured out on you in your Baptism. All those worry works, all those fear works, all those dreaded dead and ugly grudge works you’re doing, those don’t come from a faith that believes Jesus Christ put an end to your sins on His cross. They don’t flow from a faith that His body and blood are really, truly all that is necessary to make you righteous, holy, pure and free from your sin.
All that misguided, diseased, wormy fruit is what the vinedresser, our Father, is constantly at work here to cut off and prune away from you, Christian. We keep preaching faith in Christ alone so that your conscience, burdened with all that heavy, messy, stressy misguided stuff, won’t break away under its weight. Remain in the Vine. Be His branch. Bear His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindnesss, goodness, faithfulness and the gentleness and self-control in the measure He gives you. Such faith in Jesus alone works to bear fruit. “Already you are clean because of the Word I have spoken to you,” Jesus says. Trust Him. Believe Him. Quit trying to be clean and just be cleansed of it all and grow fruit naturally in Christ. This faith alone works His fruit in us, a faith resting fully in Him and His pierced hands.
A sermon on John 15:1-11, ESV
First of Eight in a special series for Lent 2017