Such endeavors may make us appear strong in our convictions, but in reality we are secretly weak when we build upon the brittle foundation of self-centered motivation.There are many apparently strong religious people who are actually on the verge of crumbling on the inside. They do what they should do because they should, and refrain from doing what they shouldn't do because they shouldn't. Period! God's transforming grace hasn't penetrated the outer layers of self-interest. His love is unknown to them, except, of course, as a matter of formal confession. It hasn't penetrated beyond their heads into their hearts. Every act of obedience and every turning away from sin is entered into with one consuming focus--to escape hell and gain heaven. Paul reached far beyond all this in his Ephesians 3 prayer. He petitioned the throne of grace that we would be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man."
In verses 17 through 19, Paul progresses in his prayer to become more specific as to the nature of the inward strength he desires for us. Two times he names our much needed empowering as "the love of Christ." Far from a passing thought, throughout Paul's writings God's love, as it was manifested in Christ, is a constantly repeated theme.
In Romans he explains that when we receive the justifying grace of Christ "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" Romans 5:5. The apostle knows only one source of this love: "God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8. The cross defines the quality and depth of divine love for unworthy sinners. Concerning the practical effect of God's love in the life of the receiver, Paul claims this "love is the fulfilliing of the law" Romans 13:10.
To the Corinthians Paul wrote, "The love of Christ constraineth us...that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again" 2 Corinthians 5:14,15. God's love is so powerful that it vanquishes the root cause of all sin, which is selfishness. He declared to those at Corinth the absolute nothingness of religious activity, no matter how apparently good, when not motivated by a heart filled with divine love, see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
Addressing the works oriented Galatians, Paul sought to banish from their minds any hope of obtaining God's favor by virtue of self-motivated works, only to introduce to them a Christ centered "faith which worketh by love" Galatians 5:6. Not that works are of no importance at all but to this cross-preaching apostle faith, is the paramount issue, and good works are the product of a love-motivated faith.
(Just remember that Christ died to take away our sins and I like that statement that "God's love is so powerful that it vanquishes the root cause of all sin, which is selfishness. We need to let His love which is that powerful to take control of our hearts, don't we. Grandma Joan)