Monday, October 30, 2017, 12:00 noon – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Muted Trumpet.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2 (Select vv. ESV).
You Once Walked (vv. 1-3)
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.
As believers in Christ, before we were born again of the Spirit of God, crucified with Christ in death to sin, and resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness, we were dead in our sins in which we once walked (conducted our lives, practiced sin). All of us have sinned and have come up short of the glory of God, of attaining his divine approval (Ro. 3:23). We all followed the course of this world and Satan. We all gave in to (lived in) the passions of our flesh, carrying out sinful desires. And, thus, we were, in our sin natures, children of wrath, destined to spend eternity without God, without hope, in the fires of hell (or the lake of fire).
So, what does this tell us? It tells us that this is to represent who we were, not who we are. This is to be past tense, not present tense. These types of things should no longer be true of one who has died with Christ to sin and who has been resurrected to newness of life in Christ Jesus. It also tells us that our salvation is not merely about Jesus taking our punishment for sin, but it is about our deliverance from bondage (addiction) to sin. As well, it tells us that, if this is still how we are living, that we are still among the “sons of disobedience,” and we are still children of wrath, and we don’t have the hope of heaven when we die (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 8:1-17).
By Grace (vv. 4-9)
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 toward 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.
There is nothing we can do, in and of ourselves, to deserve or to earn or to gain our own salvation. No amount of works (good deeds) of our own flesh will ever merit us eternal life with God. We can never be good enough. If we could, Jesus would not have had to die on a cross for our sins. But, this is not to say that we don’t have a part in our own salvation, for it is by God’s grace, through faith, that we have been saved. Yet, I believe that even the faith to believe is a gift from God, but we still have to choose to appropriate it to our lives, through yielding control of our lives over to God. For God so loved the world… that whoever believes (believing) in him has eternal life (Jn. 3:16). And, it is to all who receive him, who believe (believing) in his name, that he gave the right to become children of God (Jn. 1:12).
So, we don’t first clean up our old lives, on our own, so that we will be accepted by God. Jesus, by his blood shed on a cross for our sins, is the one who makes us acceptable to God, by his grace, through our faith, which I believe is a gift from God, too. He is the one who transforms us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. But, the whole point of his salvation is that we ARE transformed, and that we no longer walk in darkness, but that we now walk in the light and according to the Spirit of God (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Rom. 8:1-17).
So, are we puppets on a string now? Does God just zap certain ones of us and we no longer can make a choice as to how we live from this point on, but he literally takes over our minds and bodies and forces his will upon us? If he did that, then why would there be all the warnings written to Christians in the NT, reminding them of how they should walk, and instructing them in what to put off and what to put on? And, why would we need the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us? It seems, then, that we would not even have to concern ourselves with temptation, because God would take care of that for us. Yet, he makes the way of escape for us, but we still have to choose to take it, don’t we?
Walk in Them (v. 10)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So, what is the crux of all of this? It is that our salvation from sin is only by God’s grace, but that it requires faith, on our part, which is faith in action. This faith is not us trying to earn our salvation, but it is our cooperation with God’s work of grace in our lives. It is us yielding and surrendering to God. Remember that James said that even the demons believe and they shudder, so there must be something about genuine faith that is more than just acknowledgment of who Christ is or a literal belief in his existence, or even just an acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, which is conditional on us being turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.
So, what does this faith look like? When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him, of the Spirit of God, to newness of life in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. No longer should we walk (in lifestyle) according to the sinful passions of our flesh, but we should live our lives according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We should walk, too, in obedience to Christ and to his commands. We should walk in purity and in holiness, and we should resist Satan, flee temptation and sin, and draw near to God. Daily we should put on the armor of God, because we have an enemy who is out to get us. And, we must walk in love.
Bottom line: Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is the crux of the gospel message, which is taught all throughout the New Testament by Jesus, and by his NT apostles. His grace to us is not merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven, but it is to make us alive together with Christ by delivering us out of slavery to sin, so that we might live to his righteousness. We are not saved just positionally, but we are saved (being saved, will be saved) experientially. When he saves us, we should no longer follow the course of this world, but our lives should be surrendered to Christ to walk in his ways, and in his truth, and our desire should be for him, and for him to be our ONLY Lord (owner-master).
Muted Trumpet / An Original Work / October 14, 2011
Softly He speaks gently to us,
Giving us His messages, and
He waits patiently for us to
Respond to His words.
Will you listen to Him speaking?
Will you waken from your sleeping?
He is calling; hear Him whisper
His truth unto you.
Jesus speaks His words unto us,
So that He might live out through us,
Giving light to all who need Him,
So they can obey.
He gave His life to die for us,
So that from sin He would free us
To walk humbly in obedience
Unto Him each day.
Hear the trumpet clearly calling.
He died to keep us from falling.
Won’t you listen; heed His call to
Turn to Him today?
Hasten to Him calling to you.
Turn from sin and follow Jesus.
He loves you so much He gave you