For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready.
—Ephesians 2:8-10 AMP
Praise God for His wonderful compassion and favor on us! Jesus has delivered us from judgment for our sins and given us eternal life through His finished work of grace. We never could have saved ourselves. It was only by the grace of God and not through our own efforts that we were saved. It is only Christ within us who produces good works.
We are God’s masterpiece—His work of art! We were created in Jesus, reborn a new creation in Him, spiritually made new, and ready to be used for His good work. Our attempts to keep the Law only result in self-righteousness and praise for ourselves. Only Christ receives all the credit for our salvation. We can never earn our right standing with God. The only way to receive right standing with God is by faith in Jesus Christ’s finished work of grace.
We had nothing to offer God before we were transformed by Christ’s finished work of grace. We were spiritually bankrupt and dependent upon our own efforts. But when we were born again, we, who had been spiritually bankrupt and dependent upon or own efforts, became the righteousness of God in Christ. We, who had been focused on our completely insufficient efforts to receive God’s righteousness, suddenly, when we were saved, received all the righteousness of God. We no longer had to win God’s love through what we did! Christ had won God’s love for us by what He had done!
When we are saved, we are “remade” in Christ. No longer were we “self-made” people. Now that we are saved we should not continue to “remake” ourselves. Christ has remade us. We are His workmanship. Any good thing in us is a product of His grace. The only role we play is either acceptance or rejection. We don’t save ourselves. Boasting in our salvation by our good works is as ridiculous as a work of art boasting that it has created itself.
Good works cannot create a new nature, but a new nature should create good works. There is a huge difference between being saved “by” good works and being saved “unto” good works. Our good works do not gain us salvation, and our good works do not keep us saved. But our good works do confirm that we have received salvation.
“He has qualified us [making us sufficient] as ministers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not of the letter [of a written code] but of the Spirit; for the letter [of the Law] kills [by revealing sin and demanding obedience], but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6, AMP).
The letter of the Law kills faith in Christ. The Law reveals sin and demands our effort to make things right with God. Jesus has justified us and presented us as new creations without fault to His Father. We have received the seal of the Holy Spirit that our right standing is guaranteed. We are no longer in bondage to our efforts to win God’s love! We are free to receive all of His love! We have received His life!
Quit struggling to prove you are God’s masterpiece. You already are His masterpiece. The only way you will know the masterpiece that He has made you is through His Word. When you know what Jesus has given His life for you to receive—when you know what He has earned for you, you no longer have to prove your righteousness. You live out of the truth of God’s righteousness that faith in Jesus has given you.
© 2023 Lynn Lacher