Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand
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. We are saved by grace because of God’s great love. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God’s great love is demonstrated in the cross. His rich mercy is not that He accepts, embraces or tolerates our sin, but that Jesus died so that we could be forgiven of and redeemed from our sin. We are saved by grace through faith, not by our own works so that no one may boast, but because of God’s grace we walk in the good works God prepares for us and prepares us for. We cannot continue in sin and boast of God’s grace. We cannot continue in sin and presume on God’s grace. If we are seated with Christ in heavenly places, it must be in His righteousness. There is no sin in heaven. In Matthew 5:20 Jesus says: Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees not because we do better works that they did, but because the grace of God works in us. 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.’” It is not the great things we do, it is doing the will of the Father; being greatly obedient to Him.
The good works God prepared for us and prepares us for are not just works of service. It is more than doing good or even great things. Doing the good works of God is living free from sin. The good works God prepared, are also works of righteousness. In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus says: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” The good works God prepared for us and prepared us for by grace, are to live as salt and light in the impurity and darkness of the world, so that the world will see the result of the grace of God and glorify Him. In John 15:8 Jesus says: "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” Galatians 5:22-25 says: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is what leads to the fruit born from our lives.
We are saved by grace not by works, but the gift of God works in us so that we are changed. God’s grace does not leave us as we were, dead in sin. If we receive the gift of God’s grace, we will wear it daily in the presence of the world.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for the gift of Your grace. By the power of the Holy Spirit in me, may the fruit of the Spirit be evident in my life. May I live as salt and light in the world, doing the good works You prepared for me and prepared me for by Your grace. Amen.