Created in Christ Jesus 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.”

This letter to the Ephesian church is addressed to the faithful saints in Christ Jesus. The meaning of saint is one who is holy, set apart by and for God, and set apart (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ Jesus, our Lord. And faithful means reliable, trustworthy, and persuaded of God – persuaded as to our sinfulness and of our need to repent and to follow Jesus Christ with our lives.

We who are in Christ Jesus by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ – which results in us being crucified with Christ in death to sin so that we might live to God and to his righteousness – were (past) dead in our sins in which we once (past) walked (in conduct, in practice). We were (past) following the course (path, way) of this world (of the ungodly), and we were (past) following Satan (the devil), the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (of unbelief).

So, what this means is that we should no longer be walking (in conduct, in practice) in deliberate and habitual sin. We should no longer be following after the ways of this sinful world, doing what the ungodly do. And we should no longer be following Satan, who is the spirit at work in the disobedient (the unbelievers, the ungodly). So, if we are still doing these things, then according to Scripture we don’t know God, and we will die in our sins, and we will not inherit eternal life with God.

For, we all once (past, not present) lived (walked) in the passions of our flesh, meaning we are not presently conducting our lives habitually according to our sinful passions. We once (past, not present) were carrying out the desires of the body (our flesh) and of the mind, and we were (past) by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

So, if we are in Christ, by genuine faith in Him, we should no longer be living in the passions of our sinful flesh or carrying out the desires of the body and of the mind. So, if we are continuing in this way, then we are still by nature children of wrath like the rest of humans and heaven is not our final home.

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.”

It is true that we do not have to clean up our lives first in order to come to faith in Jesus Christ. But this idea that has sprung out of that which says that Jesus takes us just the way we are is a misrepresentation of what this is saying. For this says that when we were dead in our trespasses that God made us alive together with Christ. So this means that we are now alive and not dead, so this means that we aren’t still who we were doing the same things as we did before.

For in order for God to make us alive together with Christ he first of all crucified us with Christ in death to sin so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but so that we would now become slaves of God and of his righteousness. Then he gave us new lives in Christ free from the power and control of sin over our lives. And now he empowers us to live godly and holy lives for his praise and glory. For this is why he died for us that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 8:31-32; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Col 1:21-23; Php 2:12-13]

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.”

Many people are quoting and teaching verses 8-9 out of context and they are teaching that God does it all and that nothing is required of us other than to “believe,” which is not really explained much at all. And they are teaching that, since it is by God’s grace that we have been saved, through faith, and it is not a result of works, that we are to do no works at all, which often means no submission to Christ as Lord, no forsaking of our sins, and no following Jesus in obedience, for they call that “works-based salvation.”

But this is out of context, for go back to the beginning. Our lives of living for sin and for self and for the sinful pleasures of the flesh and according to the ways of this sinful world, and according to the ways of Satan are to be past if we are true and faithful saints of God and followers of Jesus Christ. So, that indicates that we indeed are submitting our lives to Christ to follow in his ways, that we indeed repented of our sins, and that we are now following Jesus in obedience to his commands.

But it is true that it is by God’s grace that we are saved through faith. And this (our salvation and our faith) is not our own doing; it is the gift of God – both our salvation and our faith. And our salvation and our faith are not the result of our own fleshly works, which are of our own doing. But this also means that since God is the giver of salvation and our faith, and neither are of our own doing, that our salvation and our faith will both be according to God’s divine nature, his character, and his will for our lives.

So, since our salvation and even the faith to believe in Jesus come from God, and not from ourselves, we will surrender our lives to Jesus, and we will forsake our lives of sin, and we will follow Jesus in obedience to his commands, for this is the will of God for our lives. And according to Scripture, these are required of God for our salvation and for our eternal life with God. For if we continue in sin, we will not be saved from our sins and we will not inherit eternal life with God.

And then notice verse 10 which follows directly after verses 8-9. It says that we are now God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. But they are the works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk (in conduct, in practice) in them. So, works are required, it is just that they are not our fleshly works of our own doing, but they are the works of God, of his doing, which he had planned that we should do in obedience and in submission to him, in his power and strength.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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