Objection. But if faith so naturally causes good works, then what is the reason that God’s people find it so difficult to be fruitful in good works?
I answer, 1. God’s people are fruitful in good works according to the proportion of their faith; if they are thin in good works, it is because they are weak in faith. Little faith is like small candles, or weak fire, which though they shine and have heat; yet but dim shining and small heat, when compared with bigger candles and greater fire. The reason that some people in Sardis had works that were not perfect before God was because they did not hold fast by faith to the Word that they had formerly heard and received (Revelation 3:1-3).
“ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in…
Second, Good works must flow from faith, or not at all; because that alone carries in it an argument sufficiently prevalent to win over our natures, to make our natures comply with holiness.
Faith shows us that God loves us, that He forgives us our sins, that He considers us His children, having freely justified us through the blood of His Son (Romans 3:24-25; Romans 4; Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:8).
FIRST. I begin with the first point. That good works do flow from faith. This is evident in various ways.
First, From the impossibility of their flowing from any other thing; they must either flow from faith, or not at all: “For whatsoever is not of faith, is sin” (Romans 14:23). And again, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Every man by nature, before faith, is an evil and a corrupt tree; and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit: “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:16-17). Now a man is made good by faith, and by that, brings forth the fruits that are acceptable to God (Hebrews 11:4; Colossians 1:4-6).
“…so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”
─Titus 3:7-8, NASB
I will not tell of every detail at large included in these words at this time; but shall briefly address those things that I judge most necessary for the people of God. Neither will I need to make any great introduction in explaining the words; they are plain and without that vagueness that requires such a thing; the general scope being this, THAT THEY WHICH HAVE BELIEVED IN GOD SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO MAINTAIN GOOD WORKS.
Having formerly written some small matter touching the doctrine of faith, as justification by grace through the faith of Christ’s blood, &etc., here, as that which is secondary to that doctrine, I present you with a few lines touching good works, that I might, just as I first showed you the good and glory of the one, so now show you the beauty and excellence of the other: for although we are justified freely by grace through Christ before God (Romans 3:24, &etc.); yet we are justified before men by our works (James 2:18): in fact, a life of holiness flowing from faith in us that are saved by grace, actually justifies that grace before the world, that justifies us before God (2 Corinthians 6:1-3; 9:12-13; 1 Peter 2:11-12).