Past? or Present?

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.”

What this is describing for us here is what the Christian life should look like if we have genuine God-given faith in Jesus Christ. We were (past tense) dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once (past tense) walked (in conduct, in practice). We once (past tense) followed the course (pathway) of this sinful world. We once (past tense) followed the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit that now is at work in the sons of DISOBEDIENCE.

We were (past tense) once (not now) among the sons of disobedience when we all once (past tense) lived in (walked, conducted our lives, made our practice) the passions (lusts, desires) of our flesh (sinful flesh), carrying out (in practice, in conduct) the desires of the body (the flesh) and the mind (set on the flesh). And we were (past tense) by nature (our sin nature) children of wrath (not children of God), like the rest of mankind (the ungodly).

In other words, our salvation from sin is not just about being forgiven our sins so that we can escape hell and so that we can go to heaven one day, like many are teaching today. Our salvation from sin is about us dying to sin and living to God and to his righteousness. It is about transformation of our hearts and minds away from living like we did before to now living holy and godly lives in obedience to our Lord. We are to no longer be on that pathway we were on before when we lived as children of disobedience.

God’s grace to us is not just forgiveness, and it is not so we can go on living in sin guilt free. Yes, we may still sin sometimes (1 John 2:1-2), but sin is to no longer be our practice. We are to no longer live like we did before we believed in Jesus. We are to no longer walk in sin, making sin our practice, our habit. For if we do, we are still following Satan and the course (path) of this sinful world. We are still among the children of disobedience, and God is not our Father and Jesus Christ is not our Lord.

For, you see, God’s grace delivers us from our slavery (addiction) to sin. And God’s grace empowers us to live godly and holy lives to the praise and glory of God. By God’s grace we no longer live in sin. Sin is no longer our practice. For God’s grace, which brings salvation, trains us to renounce (say “No!” to) ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (Titus 2:11-14).

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

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.”

So, this needs to be read and understood in the context of the previous verses. This is not suggesting that we remain dead in our sins while Jesus makes us alive together with Christ. This is not just some change in status, in other words. It just means that we are not saved from our sins by our own human effort. We don’t have to be good enough before Jesus saves us. But salvation is deliverance out of our bondage to sin and it is transformation of our hearts and minds so that we now follow Jesus in obedience to his ways.

For we read in Romans 8 that God the Father, by “sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” And then it goes on to say, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh”… and “to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (see Romans 8:1-14).

So, we are not saved by human effort. But we must cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives. We must partner with God in his work of grace or it does not happen. We have to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and allow him to do his work of transformation in our lives. And we have to walk in obedience to his commands, by his grace, and sin must no longer be our practice. We must now live according to (in agreement with, in cooperation with) the Spirit of God and no longer according to our sinful flesh.

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.”

Please read Ephesians 2:8-9 in the context of the whole of the book of Ephesians and in the whole of the context here of the verses before and the verses after these two verses. You cannot and must not build your doctrine of salvation around these two verses independent of their context. Yes, we are saved by grace. This is not of our own doing. But that includes the faith to believe in Jesus. That is gifted to us by God, and Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith, so that faith will align with God’s character.

We cannot have faith in Jesus Christ of our own choosing or of our own will and purpose. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ, i.e. unless he first persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to repent of our sins and to follow Jesus in obedience. And since our faith is not of our own doing, and it is a gift of God, we cannot, in our flesh, define what that faith should look like. For it should look like Jesus in character.

Now with regard to works. Yes, we are not saved by our own fleshly works. We can do nothing in ourselves to earn or to deserve our own salvation. But our salvation is not absent of works like many people are teaching. For when we are saved from our sins we become God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk (in conduct, in practice) in them. And they include repentance and walks of obedience to our Lord and holy living.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:8; 1 Co 10:1-22; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 5:9; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6,16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 5:10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 1 Thes 2:4; 1 Thes 4:1; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim 2:4,21; Tit 2:11-14; Tit 3:8; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 5:9; Heb 11:6; Heb 13:6; Jas 1:21-25; Jas 2:17; 1 Pet 1:1-2; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10,22-24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6]

Gracious Father

An original work / April 6, 2011

How great are You Father;
how great are You, Lord.
My heart so adores You;
Your mercy outpour.
Your love and your kindness;
Your gracious reward
Are treasures from heaven
that we can’t afford.
So, freely they’re given
and humbly received
When we bow before You
on penitent knee.

O gracious Redeemer;
my Master and King,
To You I owe everything –
my offerings I bring
With whole heart devotion,
to honor and praise
My loving companion
and friend for always.
It’s You I serve only,
to walk in Your ways,
So I have your promise
for all of my days.

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