Sunday, January 22, 2017, 8:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Servant of the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB).
Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
When we are born into this world, we are born sinners. By nature, we do what we ought not to do. But, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, that should all change. We won’t be instantly perfect, but when we are delivered out of slavery to sin, and from the power sin and Satan had over our lives, we now have the power, in Christ, to say “No” to sin, and to live holy lives, pleasing to God. In other words, Jesus didn’t die just to rescue us from the punishment of hell and to take us to heaven when we die. He died that we might die with him to sin, and live with him to righteousness. We are not just forgiven our sins, but we are radically transformed of the Spirit of God away from living to please our flesh, to God, to live lives which are being conformed daily into the image of Christ.
Yet, many people who call themselves Christians are still in slavery to sin, and they live like Jesus didn’t rescue them at all from slavery to sin. They still live much like they did before they professed Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of their lives. There is not much distinction between them and the people of this sinful world at all. This should not be! Jesus made the way of escape for us. Satan has no real power over us. Yes, he can tempt us, as well as our own flesh tempts us to sin, but in Christ Jesus we can resist Satan, flee temptation, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. As well, we can cut out of our lives those things which lead us into sin, and we can throw off every hindrance to our walks of faith, and forsake those sins which so easily entangle us. And, yet so many people use God’s grace as an excuse to continue in willful sin against God.
Alive with Christ (vv. 4-7)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Being made alive together with Christ is not merely God forgiving our sins, removing the punishment of sin, and giving us the hope of heaven when we die. Being made alive together with Christ means we can now, in the power of the Spirit within us, live to please God. We can now walk in holiness and righteousness. We now have the Spirit of God living within us, speaking daily to our hearts words of wisdom, counsel, guidance, direction, etc. He teaches us all the things which Christ taught his disciples. The Spirit within us convicts our hearts when we sin against God, and he rebukes and corrects us, as well as he encourages us and gives us hope and healing. Instead of still being dead in our sins we are now alive to righteousness. We are no longer held in bondage, but now we are free from our prisons. So, why should we want to go back to living in prison? And, yet many do!
Being raised with Christ, too, and being seated with Him in the heavenly realms is not just positional, but it is practical and it is applicable to our daily lives. In other words, God’s grace, which brings salvation, is not free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:11-14). He is now our Lord (owner-master), and we are his bond-servants, to do what he desires, not what our flesh desires.
Grace and Faith (vv. 8-10)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as 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 so that we would walk in them.
Yet, it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be saved from our sins, have the hope of eternal life with God, and live holy lives, pleasing to God. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our good will never outweigh our bad. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. Our own fleshly works will never earn us merit with God, no matter how hard we may try in our flesh to do what we think will please God.
He is not interested in what we decide to “give” to him, while we hold back the rest for ourselves. What he desires is us, on the altar, as living sacrifices, living holy lives, pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him. He wants us no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world. His desire, and why he died for us, is to transform us in thought and heart away from sin, to Him, and to his holiness (See: Ro. 12:1-2). And, to be holy means to be separate from (different, unlike) this sinful world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ.
So many people use this passage of scripture to teach that God does it all and that nothing is required of us – no repentance, no obedience, and no surrender to God and to his will. But, that’s not true. It is true that it is only by God’s grace, and because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, that any of us can be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God. It is also true that God’s grace even gifts us with the faith to believe and the ability to repent of our sins, i.e. to leave our lives of sin behind us in order to follow our Lord in obedience. Yet, we must each make that decision to personally put our trust in Jesus Christ, which means leaving our lives of sin behind us, and allowing Christ to put that sin to death in our lives and to empower us to live for him. We read in the Bible that coming to faith in Christ means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
Also, when people quote this passage of scripture, they typically exclude verse 10 which says, we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. We can’t be his workmanship if we haven’t truly given our lives to him in surrender to his will. Also, faith in Jesus Christ is clearly not absent of good works, but they are works in the Spirit, which God prepared beforehand that we should do, so that we can walk in them. So, faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we don’t have to turn from sin or that we don’t have to obey God/Jesus. It means just the opposite of that. If we are his workmanship, and if he created us to do the works which he prepared in advance that we should do, even before the creation of the world, then we should find out what those works are, and we should walk in them – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God now living within us.
Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose our lives for eternity, but if we lose our lives, i.e. if we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, we will live with God for eternity, i.e. we will have eternal life with God. Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) in the flesh, we will die in our sins without Christ and without the hope of eternal life. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in the darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars, and we don’t live by the truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Gal. 2:20; 1 Jn. 1:6).
So, believe in Jesus Christ, let his grace transform you, and in his power and by his grace live by the truth, forsake your lives of sin, and walk in the Spirit, and no longer live to gratify the cravings of your sinful desires in the way you once lived before you made the decision to believe on Jesus Christ.
Servant of the Lord / An Original Work
Based off Romans 1:1-17 / July 26, 2012
Servant of the Lord;
For the gospel you’re set apart.
Promised through the prophets of old:
Jesus, Son of God.
Through Him, and for His name alone,
We receive His grace
To call people, Him to obey;
Coming from their faith.
You belong to Christ;
Loved by God, and called to be saints;
Serving God with whole heart and mind;
Preaching Jesus Christ;
Always praying for others’ needs;
Helping hand to lend;
Giving courage to others’ faith,
For the praise of God.
Servant of the Lord;
Of the gospel, I’m not ashamed;
For salvation, power of God
To those who have faith.
In the gospel find righteousness:
Being right with God.
Turn from sin, and trust Jesus Christ.
By faith, live in Him.