“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).
Yesterday we looked at the first part of Ephesians 2 where Paul declared that all humanity was under sin because they had followed the way of the world and its ruler, the prince of the power of the air, Satan. Against that hopeless scenario of alienation, pain, suffering, and death, the apostle held up the love, mercy and grace of God that can save mankind from the destruction of sin. He reminded the people to whom he was writing that they were recipients of that salvation, having been “made alive” and “raised up together” with Christ and necessarily with all others who had also been likewise saved.
What a marvelous thought that God has cared enough about his faltering, failing creatures to put in place a plan of salvation that makes it possible to wipe away the record of one’s past and stand before the mighty ruler of the universe clean and whole by His grace through our response of an obedient faith.
The appropriate response on the part of one who has been saved is what Paul declares in vs. 10, that is, that we should walk in good works because it was for this reason God created us anew. We have not been saved to enjoy a life of ease nor a life of freedom from responsibility. Just as God gave man a mandate at the time of creation to work and tend the creation of God, so those who have been created anew have been created to do good works.
We cannot excuse ourselves from good works because we have the means at hand to prepare us for “every good work.”
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The God-breathed scripture not only prepares us for good works, but defines what those good works are. Things like being an example to others, keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, supporting and encouraging others. The words of the apostle Paul in Romans 12:9-21 give us a great deal of insight into what good works might consist of. He wrote…
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Good works are seen as a result or product of salvation, and not salvation of good works. Hence, these works are not a matter of boasting, but an expression of gratitude, an act of homage or worship rendered by thankful hearts because of what God has done for us. These works are done, not to bring God into indebtedness to us, but because we are indebted to Him – not because we are trying to repay Him (for that we could never do) but because we are simply showing our gratitude.
One who is grateful to God and desiring to show his gratitude will cooperate with Him to fulfill His purpose in this world. One who is doing what he does toward God will not necessarily hide his deeds from others, but neither will he flaunt his good works before men. God knows, not only what we do, but also why we do good works. Indeed, many of the good things we do will become known to others, but it should be enough for the Christian to know that the heavenly Father takes appropriate notice.
“The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.” (1 Timothy 5:24-25).
People who can understand and do these things are truly a new creation and will accomplish God’s purpose for them upon this earth. They are products of God’s power, they are His workmanship, and will submit themselves to every command of God for that same reason – to allow Him to accomplish His will in them.
This is especially true with regard to what follows next in the apostle’s message to these saints. We will look at that tomorrow.