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 is a description of the life of a true believer in Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be saved by grace, through faith. True faith in Jesus changes us. We don’t stay the same. We WERE dead in our sins. We ONCE walked in sin. We ONCE lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out evil desires. We don’t now. Jesus delivered us from our bondage to sin! Hallelujah!
But this isn’t some status that we claim that does not have the reality of it in our lives. Yet, there are some people who are proclaiming that it is. But we can’t say we ONCE walked in sin if we are still walking in sin. We are either walking in sin or we are walking in the Spirit in obedience to our Lord. We can’t do both at the same time (Rom 6:16).
If we are still walking in sin, then we are still following the course of this world, and we are still following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. This is our status, not that of “saved” and “going to heaven” when we die. We can’t be saved from our sins and headed to heaven if we are still living in sin and for our flesh.
So, if that is what you are being taught, that you can be saved and still live in sin, which is what is being predominantly taught within gatherings of what is called “church,” then you are being taught a lie. And, if you believe that, then you are believing a lie which is promising you heaven while it is sending you straight to hell.
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.”
Again, this is not some status that we claim which has no reality in our every day lives. We were ONCE dead in sin. Now God has made us ALIVE in Christ. He changed us. He transformed us. He turned us from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that we can receive forgiveness of sin and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:18).
True faith in Jesus Christ results in us dying with Christ to sin, being raised with Christ to newness of life in him, and us now walking by the Spirit so that we no longer fulfill the sinful desires of our flesh; so we no longer live in sin, but we now live our lives for the glory of God, by the grace of God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 2:3-6).
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.”
These first two verses here (vv 8-9) are commonly used in gospel presentations, but most often they are taken out of context and made to say something God did not intend for them to say. Therefore, context is so important. We can’t teach doctrinal passages of Scripture out of context and make them say whatever we want. That is biblical error.
The common teaching of these first two verses here is to teach a “do nothing” gospel. What they teach is that God does everything, and we do nothing. We don’t have to repent of our sins or walk in obedience to our Lord or submit to the Lordship of Christ over our lives, they say, for they call that “works,” and therefore they claim we don’t have to do any of it.
And, so they create a man-made gospel out of these two verses, and a few others also taken out of context, to teach a heretical faith in Jesus Christ that is rebellious and disobedient, absent of the fear of the Lord, with no respect for God, and which blasphemes the gospel as taught by Jesus, and which mocks Jesus’ own death on the cross, too.
For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He shed his blood on the cross to buy us back for God so we would now be God’s possession, and so we would now glorify God with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Co. 6:19-20; Tit 2:14).
Faith and Works
So, what we need to understand here is that the “faith” this is talking about is not human faith. It is God-given faith, and as such, it submits to Christ as Lord, and it leaves one’s life of sin behind him, and it follows the Lord Jesus in obedience to his commands. It is divinely persuaded faith, not of the flesh, and that is why it repents, obeys, and submits to Jesus as Lord.
Also, the “works” they are talking about here are human works, of our flesh, which are things which are outward, that some people will do thinking that they can earn their way to heaven. We can’t. Our faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God, but one we must appropriate to our lives. Our salvation is also a gift from God, but which must be realized in our daily lives.
Okay, so not only do they take these two verses out of the context of the preceding verses describing what the life of a person of faith should look like, but they totally ignore verse 10, as though it is not part of this teaching at all, because they are trying to convince people they don’t have to do anything, but that God does everything.
But what does verse 10 tell us? Even though we are not saved by our own fleshly works, but only by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, our faith in Jesus is not absent of works, but they are the works of God which God had planned for us, that we should WALK in them. And, what are some of those works? Repentance. Obedience. Submission.
But we are to WALK in them. So, this is daily repentance (daily turning away from sin), daily surrender of our lives to Christ, and daily walks of obedience to our Lord. This is the description we are given at the beginning of this chapter, too. We were ONCE enslaved to sin, but now we are enslaved to Christ and to his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; cf: Eph 4:17-24).
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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