James 5, 1 Peter 1-2

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."  I Peter 1:13-16, NIV 

One of the things that I love about studying the Bible is the discovery of how things fit together. Most people have the false notion that works are not needed for Christians since we have been given grace, but a study of the New Testament reveals that nothing could be farther from the truth. In this passage alone, we see four calls to work surrounding the truth that, despite our own need for action and obedience, our hope is still fully on grace and not works.

So, what does this mean? Has God contradicted himself? The obvious answer is no, He has not, but how do we reconcile the two areas of grace and works? I believe the answer is by understanding the difference between our part and God's part.

Peter stated that our part is to:

1.       Prepare our minds for action

2.       Be self-controlled

3.       Be obedient

4.       Be holy in all you do 

I believe even the most casual observer would have to admit that these four items are works, that each one requires an incredible amount of effort. I do want to mention that holiness is a result of the sanctifying works of the Holy Spirit, paid for by the shed blood of our Savior and accessed by grace, but we still have our part to do in order to maintain that holiness.

But, despite the works that we are required to do as children of God, our hope is still not to be placed in those works because they cannot save us. It is God's part - grace - that saves, therefore, it is grace that we are to set our hope fully upon.

Over and over in Scripture we are reminded that being a Christian is a full-time duty that requires hard work. But, over and over in Scripture. we are also reminded that that work can never be enough. That is why we are commanded to do our part, but we are then to set our hope fully on God's part.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV