“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. 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.” Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV
We don’t, in our flesh, try to clean ourselves up to be presentable to God so that he will save us from our sins and so we will have eternal life with God. He cleans us up when he saves us, for when he saves us we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
The evidence that he saved us, and that we were crucified with him in death to sin, and that we are made alive to him in Christ Jesus is that we once walked in sin, and we once followed the course of this world, and we once followed the devil and his deception, and we once lived in disobedience to our Lord by living in the passions of our sinful flesh (see vv. 1-3).
And by saying “once,” it means past tense, not the present. We no longer do those things as a matter of life course, of habit. We no longer walk in disobedience to our Lord and deliberately and habitually sin against our Lord. For, Jesus set us free from our slavery to sin so that we would now be slaves of God and of his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; 1 Pet 2:24).
It is only by God’s grace, though, that any of us are able to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. We are saved by God’s grace through God-given and God-persuaded faith in Jesus Christ. None of this is our own doing. Not one of us can bring about our own salvation by anything that we do in our flesh to try to be good enough for God.
But this does not mean that nothing is required of us or that we do nothing. We just don’t do it in our own flesh, of our own willpower, and of our own decision making process. For, since our faith is from God and not from ourselves, and we receive it as a gift from God, and Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, by faith we submit to God’s will and purpose.
We surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, and we accept his plan and purpose for our lives, and we cooperate with his working in our lives in putting our sin to death and in us living to him and to his righteousness. It isn’t us trying to be good enough to earn our own salvation, but it is us walking in the salvation we already received as a gift from God in his power and strength.
For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And he shed his blood on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we might now be God’s possession, and so we might now honor God with our lives.
For, we are his workmanship once we believe in Jesus with God-given faith. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ. Therefore, we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, not of our flesh, but which God prepared beforehand that we should walk (in practice, in conduct) in them.
And what are those works? They are repentance, obedience, submission, surrender, faithfulness, holiness, righteous living, godliness, kindness, love, patience, goodness, etc. Now we no longer walk according to our flesh, but now, by God’s grace, we walk according to the Spirit to do the works of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Jas 2:17; Col 1:9-14]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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