Created in Christ Jesus for good works
Ephesians 2 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
In today’s text it says: God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. It is important that we recognize and acknowledge what mercy is. It is defined as: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. We need to recognize that it is both within God’s power to punish those who are dead in transgressions, and also that because of disobedience to Him, those who are sinners are actually desrving of punishment. God does not only show love and compassion, He also forgives. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Because grace is unmerited; because we receive forgiveness rather than the punishment we deserve, we cannot presume on grace; we cannot expect what we don’t deserve. Grace is a gift. We cannot expect that a gift would continue to be given if we fail to appreciate and utilize it. The text says: by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. We are not saved because of what we do; based on how good we are. Rather we are saved through believing in what Jesus did for us. If we do good, it is the result of God’s grace, not the reason for it. We are not only forgiven for our sin, we are redeemed from our sin. We are restored to what God intended for us from the beginning. Through the work of the cross, we are the workmanship of Christ, restored to the image and likeness of God. The evidence of God’s grace is that we walk in the good works, which God prepared beforehand. We are not saved by our good works, but if we are saved the result should be that we do what God says. Continuing to do the things we did before we received God’s gift of grace is failing to utilize the gift.
This is not just Paul’s opinion. In John 3:16-21, Jesus Himself says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Those who reject the love; mercy and grace of God because they love darkness more than light choose judgment on themselves. The evidence of their choice is that in response to the grace of God, they continue to do evil deeds rather than the good works of God. The repentance from sin is necessary to walk in the grace of God because we are not only forgiven, but also redeemed . In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” According to Jesus it is necessary that we do the will of God; that we do the good works of God in response to the free gift of salvation by grace. These good works are more than walking in the power of God. It is also walking in obedience to Him. If we are unchanged by the grace of God we have not truly received or believed.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. I believe. I receive Your gift of salvation and redemption through grace. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may I walk in the fullness of Your grace. Amen.