“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
This verse teaches that all Christians are “created in Christ Jesus” for the purpose of walking in “good works”. Yet, in no way are “good works” equivalent to salvation. The two verses prior to this one describe the prerequisite for “good works” as being “saved” “by grace… through faith”.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9
The distance between grace and works is infinite; it has to be 100% grace and 0% works that saves you. Grace by definition is “unmerited favour”; so no amount of “good works” can earn grace.
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:6
So what is the purpose of “good works”? The answer to that question lies in the word justification, you see, “faith” is what justifies us before God, but “good works” are what justify us before men! Consider the “apparent contradiction” between the two verses below.
· “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16
· “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” James 2:24
Allow me to explain; the Galatians verse describes how we are justified before God, i.e. by “the faith of Jesus Christ”. Think of “justified”, as just-as-if-I’d never sinned! The verse in James describes how we are justified before men, i.e. by exhibiting “good works”! Think about it, how else can someone else know if we are saved? No one knows if anyone else is saved unless they see some manifestation of Christ living in them via “good works”.
James goes on to say, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26). If your body didn’t have a spirit, you would be physically dead; also, if your body doesn’t have the Holy Spirit residing in it, you are spiritually dead. If you are not working for God and you are saved, your faith is dead; also, if you are working for God without being saved, they are dead works. Righteousness is only “counted” to him that “believeth”, apart from works.
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5
Friend, God wants you to work for him, but if you aren’t redeemed “from all iniquity”, your “good works” are “spotted by the flesh” (Jude 1:23). Christ “gave himself” for you, why not believe “on him that justifieth the ungodly” today and let him “purify” you anew unto “good works”?
“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14