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Works Or Good Works

Ephesians 2:8-10: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The Lord does not call the works in verse nine good and neither shall I. Neither the works in verse nine nor the good works in verse ten save a man*s soul. So what are the differences between the works in verse nine and the good works in verse ten? The works in verse nine are produced by an unsaved man and the good works in verse ten are produced by the Lord through a saved man. A saved man is one who has been created in Christ Jesus. To be more accurate, a saved man has been recreated in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The works in verse nine produced by a man who has not been created in Christ Jesus are actually sin and the good works in verse ten are righteous. Isaiah 64:6 gives God*s opinion of the works of an unregenerate man in verse nine.

Isaiah 64:6: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

We learn in Philippians 2:12-13 that the good works in verse ten are good because God caused them.

Philippians 2:12-13: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Sometimes we cannot know the difference between the works of men without Christ and the good works of Christ in men. A man without Christ and a man with Christ working in him can do many of the same things. I do many of the same things that I did before I invited Christ to take charge of my heart, as do all believers. I did them before because I wanted to please men, including myself, rather than God, and because I believed that they would save me. I do them now out of gratitude that the Lord HAS saved me and made me a new creature that He works in and is acceptable to Him. He did those things in me, even though in myself I am just as undeserving as those who trust in their own works rather than asking Him to work in them.

Ephesians 1:6: To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Some believe God would be unjust if He punished the works done by some men but did not punish the same works done by other men. But it makes sense when we understand that the greatest sin and the only sin that condemns men is unbelief in Christ. It may not look like the worst sin to us, but it is.

John 3:18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

This truth might be made understandable by a story I have heard repeatedly. A wagon train was headed west in the 1800s. The travelers saw what they thought were low clouds in the distance. Soon they realized the clouds were smoke from a prairie fire. They could feel the wind in their faces blowing the fire directly toward them. One wise man on the train told the others that he could save them. He lit a fire behind the wagon train that quickly became another prairie fire burning away from them. When the fire burning away from them had burned out a large enough area, they turned their wagons around and drove into middle of the burned out area. Their lives were saved because the fire approaching them went around them. When we receive Christ, He accepts us into Himself. We are accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6 above. In Christ we are in the place where God*s judgment for our sin has already fallen so it will not fall on us again.

Romans 5:8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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