For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
Those are very important words. What words? Good works, are very important words. How so? You may not have realized it, but you have asked a very good question. Why is that? In the past, you have misunderstood “good works”. I’m not sure what you mean. Have you ever thought that you needed to earn my approval? Have you ever tried to do heroic acts of service to try to atone for your sins? Can you be more specific? Yes, I can. At times in the past, when you became aware of your sins, you confessed them to me. I still do. Yes, you do and that is good. But, in the past there were times when you thought confessing your sins and receiving my forgiveness was somehow not enough. Is this ringing a bell? Do you remember trying to earn my forgiveness even after it had already been freely given to you? I do. What do you know now, that you didn’t know then? Now, I know for certain that I cannot earn my forgiveness. I cannot do anything to cleanse myself of my own sin. To try to do so, is a sin in itself. Yes, it is and tell me why trying to earn your own forgiveness and cleansing is a sin. Any attempt to earn my own forgiveness and cleansing is like saying that Christ’s death on the cross was not enough payment for my sins. Any attempt to earn my own forgiveness and cleansing is like saying that I can take what Christ did on the cross one step further by my own efforts. How does that sound to you? It sounds like a sinful act of pride. So, we are agreed that you are not forgiven and cleansed of your sins by your own good works. Yes, we are. You are not saved by your good works? No, I am not. You and I are clear on this point? Yes, we are.
There is another way I want you to understand “good works”. How is that? You are not saved by good works. I get that. But, you are saved to do good words. Say more about that. You are my workmanship. I created you. I have given you gifts, talents and abilities. I have designed you. I have prepared you to do good works. I have good works that I have prepared in advance for you to do. As your life of salvation unfolds I will lead you to where I want you to go and I will give you what I want you to do. Do you understand? Yes, I do. Will you go where I guide you? Will you do what I ask of you? Will you do the good works that I have prepared in advance for you to do? Yes Lord, I will. That will be very good.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son into the world to pay for my sins and secure my salvation. You have given me a gift I could never earn. Use me now to do all the good works that you have prepared in advance for me to do. I am at your service. Amen
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