For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).
The question, “Where will you go when you die?” has certainly caused many to think about their eternal destiny. Yet, if we only think about salvation as an eternal matter we will miss much of what God expects of us this side of heaven, and we will grow easily discouraged. Here is why. When you became a new creation in Christ your purpose for living changed. You may not have thought about it that way at the time, but it’s true. You may have simply seen yourself as a lost sinner in need of a Savior, but Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that “we were created in Christ Jesus for good works.” God didn’t save us to alter only our eternal destiny; he recreated us to bring him glory now.
Prior to salvation our singular purpose was our pleasure (Eph. 4:17-19). While those old desires are still hanging around, our new purpose is to accomplish the good works that God has prepared for us to do (2:10). We are his workmanship, not our own. We live for him, not ourselves. This is where the image of the crucifixion is helpful to encourage the believer’s new change of purpose. We tend to limit the crucifixion to what happened to Jesus at a point-of-time in history past, but Paul saw the crucifixion as what happened to him when Jesus was crucified. He encourages us to do the same.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).
Motivated by the love Jesus had for him, Paul lived out his life loving others. Just like Jesus gave himself for Paul, Paul desired to give himself for others – and in so doing, he brought glory to God. He no longer did works for himself, but for his Master (Gal. 1:10). This is why his works were good works (Eph. 2:10). By the grace of God, his purpose had changed.
Prior to the fall of man, God looked upon his creation and saw that it was simply good (Gen. 1: 10, 12, 21, 25), but on the sixth day of creation (after creating man) God saw that it was very good. Why the distinction? Because man alone was made in the image of God, hence man could bring God glory like nothing else in creation. When man fell he not only lost his relationship with God, he lost his divine purpose for living. When we become a new creation in Christ, we are enabled to fulfill that divine purpose again. Nothing in this life will bring encouragement like doing what you were created to do.
Walking, you may remember, is the New Testament metaphor for daily habits. We are told that we are to “walk in good works.” Develop the daily habit of doing what you were called to do.
For years our family has spent a week of every summer with my wife’s family in the Colorado Rockies. Lost Valley Ranch is located in the Pike’s Peak National Forest. The floor of the valley is surrounded by towering, but climbable, mountains. So every summer I enjoy taking hikes in those mountains. Enjoy is a relative term. For someone who is used to breathing oxygen at sea level 51 weeks out of the year, it is hard work walking more than 100 paces when you’re 7,500 feet higher than New Jersey. What I really enjoy is looking back when I get to my destination.
Walking in good works is a lot like hiking in the mountains. It’s hard work, but just like God empowers my physical body to walk at high altitudes, he empowers my spirit to do works for him that I never dreamed possible. And when I stop and look back, I can’t believe how far God has brought me.
We find encouragement for the daily task, because we are doing what we were recreated to do all along. Walk in good works and be encouraged.