4 "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
Before we spend today mining further into this passage let's review. We are by nature slaves to our desires but God is rich in mercy. With that wealth He gave us Jesus to demonstrate His heart for us and pay the wages we owe.
Now we come to the most critical teaching in the Bible. It is counterintuitive and undermines pretty much every religion in the world and shatters most views man has of God. Here it is: (and notice the verb tense)
"For by grace you have been saved (healed) by faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
Saved/healed already? Sitting with Jesus in heavenly places already? I sure don't feel healed. The evidence would suggest that I am far from healed. My desires still try to rule over me and still succeed too often. I don't understand. And faith - but not my own faith? His faith? Faith He has given me as a gift?
Do you see it now? God is inviting us to see things from His perspective and offering us the faith required to accept that His view is the accurate one and ours is the illusion. You see when Jesus walked out of the tomb it was finished. Failure was no longer possible. The mission was accomplished. The only thing left was to see who would believe this unbelievable Love. Religion and the unbelieving world tell us we only get what we deserve and we only gain what we earn. It's all about work. Here is what Jesus said about work: "This is the work God requires, to believe on the One He sent" John 6:29
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
I want you to notice something critical. Verse 9 says our healing and our faith has nothing to do with works. Nothing. Zero. Then verse 10 says we were created for... good works. Now here is where translations fall short. When you look up this phrase and find the literal meaning it is something very different from doing good things. I'm sure some of the worst people in human history did some good things. Verse 10 pulls back the curtain on our true identity past and our true identity future. This phrase "good works" as opposed to simply "works" in verse 9 refers to our nature as opposed to our actions. See bad people can do good deeds for all kinds of reasons but it doesn't mean they are good people. God created us in the beginning to be inherently good. Sin made us slaves to evil desires but that is not our original design. Jesus came and He demonstrated our original nature. He was good from the inside out and nothing and no one could change that. As He was is not only the way we will be but the way He already sees us! The devil has us stressing over how bad we are and God is saying "When I look inside you all I see is my Son and when I look at My Son sitting here beside Me all I see is you!"
He is even willing to give us free of charge the faith to see the substance we're still hoping for and to see the evidence we can't yet see. Is there any wonder God repeatedly calls His message to us "Good News"? Not patched up or painted over on the outside. Good from the inside out!