You Were, Not Now
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.”
We are either dead in our sins or we are dead to (and dying to) our sins. We are either actively engaged in sin, in lifestyle, in conduct, and in practice, or we, by faith in Jesus Christ, have died with Christ to sin and we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17).
If we are in Christ Jesus, by genuine faith in him, we are no longer dead in our sins, but we have been crucified with Christ to sin and we are living to Christ and to his righteousness. We once walked in sin. We once conducted our lives in sinful practices. But now we no longer make sin our practice.
We once followed the course (the ways) of this sinful world and we were following Satan, for we were living under his control and power. We once lived in disobedience to our Lord, deliberately and habitually sinning against him and against others, following the passions of our sinful flesh.
We once (past tense) carried out the desires of our sinful flesh, doing what we wanted to do, without regard for God or for his truth or for what he wants for our lives. We were both in the world and we were of the world, and we did what the world did. And we were, thus, children of wrath.
But what we once were should not describe who we are now if we are followers of Jesus Christ. This is not to say that we may never fall back into sin again, or that we might never wander from the purity of our faith in Jesus Christ, for the Scriptures show us that is possible (Rev 2-3).
But what it does say is that faith in Jesus Christ results in us dying with Christ to sin and us living to Christ and to his righteousness. Genuine faith in Jesus Christ transforms us in heart and mind away from living for sin and self to desiring to follow Jesus as Lord in obedience to his commands.
And it also says that if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin against God, and thus we remain following Satan and the ways of this world, that we are still dead in our sins, and we are still under God’s wrath.
By Grace We are Saved
Ephesians 2:4-9 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. 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.”
But this transformation of heart and mind and actions is the result of what Jesus Christ did for us on that cross, and it is the result of God the Father drawing us and persuading us toward Christ and his gospel message, and it is the result of heart responses to God which embrace God-given faith.
Yes, not one of us can do anything in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough in ourselves to be acceptable and to be approved by God. Our good deeds will never outweigh our bad deeds. We all come up short, in our flesh, of God’s divine approval.
Our salvation is of God from start to finish. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ, and even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God, for it is authored by Jesus and it is perfected by Jesus, so it submits to Jesus as Lord, too.
If both the grace of God, in saving us from our sins, and our faith to believe in him are not of our own doing, but this salvation by faith is the gift of God’s grace to us, and if we believe because God persuades us, and if Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith, then this faith is going to align itself with God’s moral character and with his divine purpose for our lives.
Therefore, by faith in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God (in the likeness of Christ) in true righteousness and holiness. We put off our old sinful lifestyles, and now we walk by the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the passions of the flesh (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Gal 5:16).
So, this is not human faith which makes its own rules, and which encourages lawlessness. This faith from God dies with Christ to sin, leaves sinful lifestyles behind, and follows Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways. The believer in Jesus surrenders his life to Christ and submits to him as Lord.
Created for Good Works
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Now some people are isolating vv 8-9 and they are building a doctrine of salvation around those two verses which does not require dying with Christ to sin or living to Christ and to his righteousness, and which requires no obedience to our Lord’s commands or submission to him as Lord (master).
For, they misconstrue the meaning of those verses to say that God does it all and that we do nothing. Nothing is required of us other than faith, but that faith is rarely defined, or else it is reduced to just words repeated after someone else, or an emotional experience, or a mere acknowledgment of what Jesus did for us on that cross.
For, they are teaching that repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord is “works-based salvation” or “Lordship salvation.” So, they are teaching that it is wrong (sinful) to turn away from our sins to follow Jesus in obedience, as part of saving faith.
So, what they do is they give their adherents free license to continue in habitual, deliberate, and premeditated sin against others, while they promise them salvation from sin, eternal life with God, and heaven as their eternal destiny which can’t be taken away from them. Therefore, they are still dead in their sins and under the wrath of God.
But, when we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, we submit to him as Lord, we surrender our lives to him, and in God’s power and strength, we no longer walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins.
For, when we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, we become his workmanship, and we are created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (in practice, in conduct). For, if they come from God, they are the works of God, and they are not the works of the flesh, and we are empowered by God to do them.
So, don’t believe the lies which tell you that you can be saved from your sins and have eternal life with God, but that you don’t have to repent of your sins nor obey the Lord, nor submit to him as Lord (master) of your life.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2]
Seek the Lord
An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”