For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
The apostle, having shown that our salvation is only of grace, and the means by which we are made capable of all saving good in Christ, by faith, excluding all causes in man, and that from the end lest he should boast himself: he now gives a reason why God's grace is all in all, drawn from our redemption by Christ. As in the first creation there was no disposition in man to make himself a man, so no virtue in man now created to make him able to bring himself to eternal life; he confers nothing to the works of his new creation in Christ, no motion of man's will, thought, or desire, or any preparatory work; all proceeds from the infinite creating power of God, He gives all.
1. All the faithful are new creatures in Christ.
(1) This proves to many that they are not believers as yet. Why? Because they live in their old sins. So long as the love of any sin is retained there is no part of new creation in that person.
(2) To prove we are in Christ we must approve ourselves new creatures.
(a) The parts of this new creation are — holiness of the spirit, and of the body, mind, will, affections, and every member of the body.
(b) Degrees — babes in Christ; young ones; old men, the perfection of stature.
(c) Signs — change; spiritual motion in the heart; desire for the sincere milk of the Word; desire to draw on others to grace.
2. God is the author of our new creation.
(1) This shows the dignity of the saints. They are God's children.
(2) It teaches us to whom we are to ascribe all that we are.
3. God gives us our new creation through Christ. Let us magnify Him accordingly.
4. The new creature has new works. The two go together; there cannot be the one without the other. As is the fountain, such will be the streams which flow from it.
5. We come to have good works when we are made new in Christ. Before that we can do nothing, not only meritorious, but even good (John 15:15). If the things which are necessary conditions of a good work be considered, this will be clear. It must be done
(1) From the heart.
(2) In the obedience of faith.
(3) To God's glory.
6. Good works are the very end of our new creation. As we plant our orchards, to the end that they may bring us fruit, so does the Lord plant us on purpose that we may bring Him fruit. Hence His people are called "Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, in whom He may be glorified." "Herein is My Father glorified," said Christ, "that ye bear much fruit." Honour God with thy graces. It is reasonable that every one should have the honour of his own. We see plainly that other creatures glorify God in their kind, and fulfil the law of their creation; man alone, who has the greatest cause and best means, comes behind.
7. We must walk in the ways which are prepared by God. Our life must be a tracing of the commandments; we must not salute the ways of God as chapmen coming to fairs; we must walk in them. Men in the world may become so prosperous that they may give over trading, and live comfortably on what they already possess; but it is not thus with the soul, which, where it ceases to profit, waxes gross.
(1) As thou wouldst have comfort that thou art a new creature in Christ, made alive by the Spirit, try it by this — how thou walkest.
(2) Ever strive to be going forward, exercising the faculties we have, and looking to God for all.
Parallel VersesKJV: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.