10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Paul now turned to giving another reason to believe salvation did not come from man: it came by God’s creation as a work of art.
“For” gives additional evidence that salvation is a gift. Salvation does not come from man or by his works; we are God’s creation, His workmanship.
we are his [emphatic] workmanship,
The word “workmanship” connotes a work of art or handiwork. Believers are a work of art. This is a spiritual creation, not a physical one. God is at work in the Christian. “Workmanship” is from the Greek word for poem (poiema). Believers are God’s poem, His work of art.
The word “his” is emphatic. The believer is God’s work of art. God’s labor—not our own—fashions us into the Creator’s handiwork. Poems do not write themselves.
created in Christ Jesus
God created us in the sphere of Christ. Because salvation in Christ Jesus is a creation for good works, there were no human works prior to it. Salvation is the work of God, not man. It is His work “in” Christ Jesus. God created us by giving us a new status or position before Him forever. We were spiritually dead, but God brought us to life in Christ.
unto good works,
God created us in Christ to do “good works.” He does not save us by works but unto “good works.” Salvation is not by works but for works (Tit 3:8). His picture of salvation was very clear; He had in mind people made for a new way of life.
which [works] God hath before ordained [prepared in advance]
God prepared works for us in advance of our lives. In His providence He sorts out the way, timing our lives and situations so that we can walk and work for His glory.
This phrase places emphasis on God’s grace; even our works come from His grace.
that we should walk in them [good works].
God prearranged a way of life for the believer to walk. God prepared a path of works for the believer to walk. He not only prepared works from eternity as the result of our position in Christ, but He intends that we live in them as a course of life (Php 2:13).
Christians are God’s poem.
Christians are God’s poem or masterpiece. He is in the process of producing people who would reflect who He is. He already prepared these works for us to do.
Believers need to understand the proper order of how God works. We do not obtain anything from God by working for it, because in His eyes we are totally depraved. We deserve nothing but hell. It is only by God’s grace that He would save us. However, His work produces good works in us. True conversion produces a dynamic faith. There is a divine origin to what we do as believers. The cause of salvation is grace; the effect of salvation is works. There is a difference between cause and effect, but many people constantly get this confused.
God prepared works for us to walk. Even works as the effect of salvation are the work of God. Salvation wholly rests on God, whether it comes from His grace or what He produces by grace.
It is important to understand the place of works in the Christian life. Works do not carry a meritorious idea but the concept of fruit. Works are the consequence of the grace of God on our lives. Becoming a Christian makes for a radical change in behavior not due to us ourselves.