One day there was a gardner and he grew the biggest carrot he ever grew. And he brought it to the King and he says, “O Sovereign, this the greatest carrot I have ever grown or will ever grow. I want to give it to you as a token of my esteem and affection because you are a great King and I have always loved you. I just want you to have it.
The King discerned his heart and was touched and as the man turned to go away he said, “Wait a minute. You know, I own the land next to your garden and I want you to have that land. I want you to have twice the land you had before because you are an excellent man and an excellent gardner and I want you to be twice the gardner you were before.” The man went home rejoicing.
But there was a nobleman in the court and he overheard this and he said to himself, “My gosh, if you get five acres for one carrot... hmm...”
So the next day he brings the King a horse and he says, “Oh Sovereign Lord, I raise horses and this is the greatest horse I have ever raised and ever will raise and I want to give it to you as a token of my esteem and affection. I have always loved you.” And the King discerned his heart, read him, and says, “Thank you very much.” He picked up the horse and began to walk away with it. The nobleman sits there dumbfounded and the King turns around and says, “Let me explain. You know that gardner, he gave me the carrot. But you were giving yourself the horse.”Keller paraphares Spurgeon as saying:
If you are feeding the hungry and clothing the naked in order to get into heaven, you are feeding yourself. You are not feeding them. You are doing it for yourself. You are not doing it for God and you are not doing it for them. You are doing it out of pride and out of fear.Keller continues in his lecture:
And that is why the Belgic Confession is right in saying, unless you know your good works cannot do a thing to get you into heaven, unless you know you are utterly accepted right now, you can’t do a good work. Here is a great dialectical tension. Until you know your works are not any good, they are not any good. As soon as you realize that they are not any good there is at least a germ of something real, which is, you are doing it for God’s sake. You are doing it out of faith. You are not doing it out of fear that you are going to lose something or out of pride (now I know I am better than other people).
Therefore, moral effort... fear and pride, works righteousness, restrains the heart from doing bad things but doesn’t actually change the heart. Moral effort is merely jury rigging the evil, pride, fear, and selfishness of the heart to produce moral behavior out of self-interest. It is only a matter of time before that will collapse.