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Ephesians 2: 8 – 11

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Well now, that is a little confusing. Is it about works, or isn’t it? Within a couple of phrases Paul talks about “not works” and then seems to say we should be involved in good works. Well, which is it?

The body of Christ has really had trouble with this. We get our wires a bit crossed over the concept of works. The church has dealt with this confusion going back to near antiquity. People try to get into heaven by their good works. That is the part Paul is addressing in the negative. No one is ever going to impress God through their holiness and good works. Even on our very best day we will never rise to that level. What impresses God is the blood of the lamb. The only admission ticket to heaven is that precious blood. If you have it, you get in. If you don’t, well . . . we’ll let God handle that one. But it won’t be on your good works that you gain admittance.

I am constantly surprised by the number of people who think they “have” to do good works. It is only by the grace of God that we are saved. But … once you are saved, love should begin to flow outward. Prior to getting saved many people are self interested, self absorbed. Everything is supposed to flow towards them. After you get saved love, blessings, kindness, etc. are supposed to start flowing out of you. We don’t do good works to get God to love us, to approve of us, or to stamp our boarding ticket for heaven. Good works are a by-product of the love of God springing forth in our spirits.

And when you are thinking of “good works” try to get out of the traditional view of works and towards a more spiritual sense. This scripture says we are to walk in these good works that were prepared beforehand. Let us then think of sowing to the Spirit instead of sowing to the flesh. Once a person can get himself off his mind, then many kinds of spiritual works present themselves, including praying for others, forgiveness, and walking in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22 – 23). Don’t get yourself so bogged down mentally or emotionally that you overlook the works of the Spirit. Feeding the poor is a great thing to do, and I encourage it, certainly, but it does not cover unforgiveness in a person’s heart. Nor do any good works cover gossiping, backbiting, lying, etc. First sow to the Spirit and then let the fruit of the Spirit manifest in your life. When you do that, you will be balanced, and good works of all sorts will just flow from you because you will take on the very nature of God. You will be a giver because God is a giver. You will be kind because He is kind. These are the real works we are supposed to be walking in. Once we have these priorities in correct sequence, then all sorts of good works will just be natural extensions of who we are. But don’t forsake what is first for what should be second for remember, it all began with grace.

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