Saved for Good Works

Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

So many people quote Ephesians 2:8-9 out of its context, so the Lord wants us to see the context here so that we understand those two verses within the proper context and meaning. For Scriptures removed from their context are often misrepresented and are used as proof texts for false teachings.

The first half of the first sentence of vv 1-3 is so telling! As believers in Jesus Christ, we WERE (past tense) dead (spiritually) in the trespasses (swerving aside, fall) and sins (evil deeds) in which we ONCE (past tense) walked (conducted our lives in practice).

So, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to sin and we are raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For, Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).

We ONCE (past tense) followed the course (patterns, ways) of this world, following the devil. We are not now to be following the ways of this world, or following after the devil, or living in deliberate and habitual (addictive) sin against God and other humans. For, we died with Christ to sin.

We ONCE (past tense) lived (past tense) in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the sinful desires of the body and the mind, and thus we were (past tense) by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

So, this is what the life of a genuine believer in Jesus Christ should look like from the start, and it should continue in the same way. This is not saying that we will be perfect, but that we should no longer be living like we did before we believed in Jesus. We should no longer be slaves to sin.

We should no longer be walking (conducting our lives) according to the flesh, but we should be walking (in practice) according to the Spirit. Sin should no longer be our master. Jesus is to be our only Lord and master, and we are to live in obedience to him, not in disobedience.

Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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 coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Before Jesus saved us, we were dead in our sins, living to please the passions of our flesh, following the ways of this sinful world, living under the control of Satan and the flesh. So, we did nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We are only saved by God’s grace, because he loved us.

But look at what this says, and then go back and read the first three verses again. It says that God made us alive together with Christ. And then read Romans 6, also. For, we have to first die with Christ to sin before we can be made alive with Christ, and this is why living for sin and self is now past tense. It is the way we ONCE lived, not how we should now live.

And then read Ephesians 4:17-24:

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

“But that is not the way you learned Christ! — ASSUMING that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the TRUTH is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

The truth that is in Christ Jesus instructs us that we must put away our former life of living for sin and self, which is corrupt through deceitful desires, and we are to be renewed in the spirit (heart, essence) of our minds (thinking, believing), and we are to put on (apply to our lives) the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

We are not to continue living in sin like we did before, for if we do, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).

Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not 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, that we should walk in them.”

So, yes, it is only by God’s grace that we are saved through faith, and this is not of our own doing. None of it is our own doing. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ (Jn 6:44). And the word “faith” means to be persuaded (convinced) by God.

Thus, since our salvation from sin comes from God, and the faith to believe comes from God, for none of this is of ourselves, then the faith we have will submit to Christ as Lord. We will surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, for this is the purpose for which he gave his life up for us (Rom 6:1-23; 1 Pet 2:24).

And what is the gift? It is the gift of faith and it is the gift of salvation from sin. But what are we saved from? And what are we saved to? We are saved from our slavery (addiction) to sin that we might be slaves of God and of his righteousness. For, we die with Christ to sin that we may live with Christ to his righteousness.

Not a result of works? Not a result of our own works, our own deeds, of our own doing, of our own fleshly decisions. We can’t, in our flesh, be ever good enough to receive salvation from sin and eternal life with God. But our faith is not absent of works (v. 10).

Instead of doing our own works, trying to earn our salvation by our own good deeds, our Lord saves us by his grace, through the faith gifted to us by God, which is persuaded of God as to his holiness and righteousness, and as to his divine will and purpose for our lives.

And now we are God’s workmanship, his doing, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk (conduct our lives in practice) in them (Eph 2:10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Phil 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17).

And we are also going to be judged by our works. For, if we sow to please the flesh, of the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we sow to please the Spirit, of the Spirit we will reap eternal life with God.

[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; Rev. 2-3; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6]

Therefore, Ephesians 2:8-9 is NOT teaching that we do nothing, or that if we do forsake our former lives of living for sin and self, and if we are walking in obedience to our Lord, in submission to his will, that we are trying to earn or to deserve our own salvation. It just means we are doing the works that God planned for us in advance that we should walk in them, in his power.

Be with Me, Lord

By Thomas O Chisholm

Be with me, Lord – I cannot live without THEE,
I dare not try to take one step alone.
I cannot bear the loads of life, unaided,
I need THY strength to lean myself upon.

Be with me Lord, and then if dangers threaten,
If storms of trial burst above my head,
If lashing seas leap ev’rywhere about me,
They cannot harm, or make my heart afraid.

Be with me Lord! No other gift or blessing
THOU COULDST bestow could with this one compare –
A constant sense of THY abiding presence,
Where’er I am, to feel that THOU ART near.

Be with me, Lord, when loneliness o’ertakes me,
When I must weep amid the fires of pain,
And when shall come the hour of “my departure”
For “worlds unknown,” O Lord, be with me then.

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