We Used To

Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV

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.

This message is to the faithful saints in Christ Jesus, to those who are trusting in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. We were dead in our sins in which we once walked (lived habitually). By God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we are now alive in Christ, and we now walk (in lifestyle, in practice) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God.

We used to follow the course of this world, but now we have been transformed in heart and mind by the Spirit of God away from our sinful pasts, and now we are following Jesus Christ with our lives in the way of holiness. We have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life in Him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

We used to live in the passions of our sinful flesh, carrying out the desires of our fleshly minds and bodies. We used to be under the control of Satan and sin, living in disobedience to our Lord. We used to lie, cheat, and steal, etc. It was our sin nature. We used to do what came naturally to us. We used to be in control of our own lives, being our own lords, doing what we wanted to do without thought to pleasing God. For, all have sinned, the Bible says.

But, the main point here is that we “used to” be like that and do all those things. The true mark of a follower of Jesus Christ is that the old life is gone, put to death with Christ on that cross, and that now we live and walk in the Spirit of God according to his commands, doing what he says to do. We don’t live just like we did before we professed faith in Jesus Christ. By God’s grace we are now able to live according to the ways of the Lord.

Yet, this doesn’t mean we are perfect people, but that lack of perfection should never be used as an excuse for willful and habitual sinning against God. For, because of what Jesus did for us on that cross, through faith in him, we are now empowered to walk (live habitually) in his holiness and righteousness. For, Jesus died to free us from our slavery to sin, not just to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we die.

Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV

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.

And, God gets all the glory! Great things HE has done! For, not one of us can live righteously apart from God, and apart from his Spirit living within us empowering, strengthening, counseling and guiding us. But, the point is that we CAN walk in holiness and righteousness because of what Jesus did for us. Because of his grace to us, we don’t have to live under the power (control) of Satan and the flesh any longer. For, Jesus Christ set us free! Amen!

For God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (fleshly lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the power of God while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14). And, his grace empowers us to do so, too.

For, the whole point of God’s grace to us was to deliver us out of our slavery to sin that we might now become slaves of his righteousness. Our past lives should no longer be our present lives. They should be the lives we “used to” walk in, but now we should be walking (living) by the Spirit of God, by the Word of God, and in obedience and in submission to our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, this is the immeasurable riches of his grace to us in that he changed us, he transformed us, he put to death the old, and he made us new in him, all to the glory and praise of God. And, he walks with us day by day, and he helps us, and he strengthens and empowers us to live holy lives pleasing to God. He gives us all we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation and to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. And, this is his grace to us.

Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

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.

There are many people these days who are pulling verses 8-9 out of context and who are using them to teach a cheap (fake) grace gospel. This cheap grace, not like God’s true grace, promises people heaven when they die, but does not deliver them from their slavery to sin or empower them to walk righteously before their God.

So, they remain dead in their sins, still enslaved to the passions and desires of their flesh, still bound for hell, while holding on to a false hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

So, basically they extend human control and power over one’s own life, and they extend the power of sin and Satan over one’s life, too. But, what they are offering, and calling it the gospel, is a sinking ship. What they are offering you is a life still stained with sin, still having no purpose or direction, and still floundering and wandering far from God, while living immoral, corrupt, evil and dishonorable and selfish lives. And, they call that “grace.”

But, this cheap grace gospel is not pure. It is tainted with lies and deceptions and twisting of truth. And, it is of Satan, for its goal is to deceive people into believing that they can have the hope of eternal life with God while they hold on to their sinful practices and take God’s grace for granted.

So, whether one is teaching a cheap grace gospel or a legalistic works-based gospel of salvation, they are both the same, for the result is still the same, for they are both based in human flesh and not in the Spirit of God. So, neither one results in genuine heart transformation of the Spirit of God. One is trying to earn one’s salvation via works done in the flesh, while the other feels empowered to continue in his sinful practices, and thus insults the grace of God.

But, the point of these verses is to let us know that we can’t produce our own salvation. We can never be good enough in our own flesh to be approved by God. We are also not the initiators of this grace, God is. Even the faith to believe in Jesus Christ is a gift of God and is divinely persuaded by God. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to Christ. So our salvation is not the result of human effort.

But, this does not mean that our salvation is absent of works. It is not. For, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God prepared in advance that we should walk (in lifestyle, in practice) in them. Yet, those good works are of the Spirit of God and are empowered by the Spirit of God, so they are not of our own doing, but they are God at work within our lives as we yield our lives over to his control.

So, in closing, we who are following Jesus Christ with our lives no longer live for the passions and desires of our sinful flesh, but we now live for God in his power and strength. This is not saying we are perfect people, but that holiness is what we practice in the strength, counsel, help and power of our Lord Jesus. So, God gets all the glory for the great things He is doing in and through our lives. He gets all the honor and praise, for without him none of this would be possible. And, I can attest to that in my own life. Amen!

To God Be the Glory

Lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, pub. 1875
Music by William H. Doane, pub. 1875

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

7 thoughts on “We Used To

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