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Ray's study of Ephesians: Part 3
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Ephesians 1: 15-23. I thank God for you daily.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
-Ephesians 2: 1-10
By Grace and through Faith.
Paul doesn't sugar coat things here. In fact, he is very clear that we all once walked in darkness. We were dead in our sins and trespasses. We have been ever since Genesis chapter 3 when sin entered the world. I think that in order to understand this fully, we need to know what sin truly is. If you are like me, you may have grown up thinking that sin is "lying to mom and dad", "stealing", "murder" or some other actionthat is "bad". However, In 1 John 3:4 the bible gives a simple slightly different, deeper definition of sin: "Sin is lawlessness". In Matthew 5, Jesus speaks to a truth about the law and sin when He points out that sin starts in the heart.
"You have heard that it was said 'you shall not murder'...but I saw to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement...you have heard that it was said 'you shall not commit adultery' but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery..."
James 2:10 goes on to say that "whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it". So we have this problem that we are all born into this world of sin and lawlessness - separation from God; separation from Love defined.
But Paul is not writing any of this to beat us up and tell us how bad we are. Rather, he is writing to show us that we have been saved and what we have been saved from. Also in Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells us that he "did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law". Paul picks this up by telling us that we, by grace and though faith in Jesus Christ, have been saved from the world in which we once walked.
You see, Jesus did not come to condemn us all to hell because we're terrible, rotten sinners. He came to give us life because we are immeasurably loved by the Father of the universe. Jesus offered this while we were still dead in our sins. This is the very gift of God. First He breathed life into the universe. Then, when man chose death in Genesis, He offered Jesus as a gift to us to give us second life.
The beautiful thing is that this has nothing to do with our works or how good we are. It doesn't matter how many little old ladies you help cross the street or how much money you give. Your salvation - your LIFE - is not dependent upon if you go to church 3 times a week and volunteer and a homeless shelter. Your good works do not save you. it is faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, that gives you salvation. Think about that for a minute. It's all about grace, not works. Why? So that no one may boast. We're all on the same level here. We all need just as much of the blood of Jesus to atone for our trespasses.
As we come into Easter weekend it seems fitting to ask, have you placed your faith in Christ? His death, burial and resurrection? His death and burial paid a death that you owed. His resurrection is what allows you to be seated with Him in heavenly places. The gift is free. The gift is life. And the choice is yours.
© 2015 Ray Smith