Ephesians 2 21 verses in this chapter
V1 You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins,
Paul applies the message of God’s grace to the Ephesians believers personally. As this world is dead, so every person who is born into its system, is dead – dead in trespasses and sins. This is our natural-born state. We have no desire for God, or life in God. Our souls are completely insensitive to our Creator, and we cannot relate to Him. Our transgressions and sins spring for our deadness, and as we live our lives, our ungodliness and deadness is compounded. Our spiritual state causes our moral and spiritual failure. We are dead because we are dead.
All Christians were once dead in sins and law-breakers. Before we were made alive in Christ, our souls were dead. We had no life with God, and no living relationship with Jesus or the life-giving Spirit. We were insensible to spiritual life and had no desire to know God or seek Him. We walked our lives in sinful ways, and following after the ways of this fallen world. We were by nature, proficient in breaking the law of God and covering it up.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,” Colossian 2:13
The corruption of death has pervaded all we are and do. We are unprofitable servants and deserving only of destruction. Paul reminds the Ephesians that they are no different than any other people. Dead people can’t do much. They can’t choose life. They have no sensibilities towards the Lord, and no notion of the dreadfulness of their sin or the consequences of it. The action of spiritual awakening in the soul, is a miracle of monumental proportions and only God can do this for us.
V2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience.
Our spiritual deadness means that we walk in the ways of a dead world. We are duty bound to do so. We can’t help it because we don’t know any other way, nor can we ever walk in any other way. Our deadness only recognises other deadness. We are trapped in the grave of our own sin and degradation.
The evil powers of this world and the realm of Satan, keeps us bound and dead and buried in the cemetery of judgment.
This spirit of rebellion and sinful pride is constantly at work in the lives of all those who do not know God. People who refuse the true life in Christ are held in thrall to the god of this world. His remit is to keep people dead and blind and deaf to the life-giving message of repentance and forgiveness to God.
Before we were made alive we just followed this world. We fitted into the programme of this world and knowingly went after evil and the temptations of the evil one. We followed Satan, who is the Prince that rules the atmosphere of this world. It is he, and his lawless spirit, who prompts and encourages the disobedient who listen to him, and walk with him. We choose death and a life that leads to death. Even when we hear the truth, we do not choose it. The situation laid out here, of the spiritually dead, couldn’t be more dangerous. Without God, We play with fire and blindly fit in with the system in this world. This world of humans is kept blind by Satan, and he gladly works in the lives of disobedient people.
“the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them.” 2 Corinthians 4:4
He keeps them on the hop and satisfied, just enough to remain blind. He hates humans. People were made to love God and to be loved by Him. We are meant to be the friends of God and are capable of the spiritual relationship with the holy Lord of all things. God knew we would fail, right back in the beginning, and so had a plan to rescue us and to pay for our failures.
Humans can be redeemed. Satan cannot, so he takes all his spite out on the human race and enjoys the malice of tripping us up and making sure we destroy ourselves, or at least making sure we are miserable.
“The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are also. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20:10
Satan knows his fate, and makes fools of the human race, who don’t realize theirs. The message of the gospel goes out daily all over the world, and humans are brought into the kingdom of God, by His mercy and love. Satan and his angels have none of this. Although he tries to dupe humans and stop them coming to faith, God will bring His own out of his evil clutches and into the freedom of Christ.
In all of this, God is sovereign. Satan is a ruler of the kingdom of the air, but he can never thwart God. He is permitted to oppress people, but not forever, and not in any way to subvert the will of God. This also makes him hateful. To follow the paths of Satan, in this world, is pure folly. The Christians in Ephesus, have turned from this state, and now belong to God. They are no longer “children of disobedience”but are redeemed from that condition through the Saviour Christ.
Paul reminds them of what they once were. As we walk with God, may we also remember that we were once sinners, who are now clean.
V3 We also all once lived among them in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Paul immediately identifies himself and the Ephesians believers with this lost state of sinfulness before God. Paul confesses that he has also walked this sinful pathway. Once Paul was a sinful man, walking in the light of his own eyes. He called himself the “chief of sinners”such was his deep dyed sinful words and deeds from a dead heart towards the love of God.
Paul says. “The saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15
Paul lived with sinners and was a sinner. He identified with the religious assembly of the Jews against Christ. All he did was flesh orientated. His thoughts, desires and deeds, all motivated by the principles of this dark world and the sinfulness of his own dead heart. He thought he was a God- fearing person, but he was deceived by religion.
Every Christian is the same.
Every Christian was once ungodly, and devoted to giving in to every fleshly craving. We consumed whatever suited us and pandered to our sinful desires and thought processes. We had no ability to say “no” to our flesh as we were ruled by it.
Just like every other human being that has ever lived, we followed in this way. We walked this world completely deserving of the wrath of God, but insensible to it. It never seemed to occur to us that injustice cannot go on forever. The wrongs we do must be righted. The wrong that is done to us, must be put right also.
The fact that we live in a sinful world, does not seem to register with us, because we are used to it. We fit right in. Even looking at the news on television should jolt us out of thinking the world is good and it will all come right in the end. It hardly ever seems to come right in the end….
This deliberate blindness has consequences. God says humans deserve wrath for what they do and how they carry on and the fact that we accept it. Every Christian has at one time, been caught up in this mindset, before God changes them. We are trapped by it, and cannot escape on our own. Some might turn to religion, and get some peace of mind, but there is no peace with God.
“Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there is no peace; and when one builds up a wall, behold, they plaster it with whitewash” Ezekiel 13:10
Once we plundered through life enjoying and consuming, and under the sentence of eternal death. We were people marked for destruction like everyone else. We were senseless and hopeless without God in the world.
God calls us “children of wrath.” It is hard to think about wrath, and sometimes we think it unworthy of God. Gods’ wrath is as powerful as His love. His wrath is against sin and all deliberate sinners. Those who will suffer it’s full strength, will have chosen that path deliberately. As we do not end up in heaven “accidentally” so we will not find ourselves in hell, by a miscarriage of justice!
Gods’ salvation of the human kind, is a deliberate act of love, otherwise none of us would ever be saved. We are so blind and foolish, we think our judgment of our state is more accurate than God’s revelation. We don’t read His Word, because we don’t want Him, not because we find it inaccurate.
If we are loved of God, let us rejoice in our forgiveness and in the utter mercy that has rescued us.
V4 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,
However, God has provided a way out from the life of bondage to sin. He is full of mercy. His mercy overflows and it is expressed through great love for us, His people. God exercises his mercy through an unfathomable love, that no one can understand. We understand when someone is in our family and we can forgive them and help them, even though they might be undeserving. But what about someone who has ruined our life, spoiled our chances and actually damaged our person in a deep way? We would not forgive them and no one would expect us to.
But God is different. He loved His people even when they hated Him. He loves even when we disrespect His almighty grace and mercy. He loves us when we repeatedly disobey and do things diametrically opposed to His will or perfect law. God loves the unlovely. That’s every one of His people.
Even before we had the wit to sin, He suffered and died on a cross to pay for all our sin and the sinful nature we have. He loves in a way humans can never do. He loved His own unto the end….
Why do we look for love in another, apart from God? There is nothing like this. This love supersedes anything else we could ever experience. The mercy we experience as a forgiven sinner springs from the love of God. Love is His nature and His practice and there is no other love like His love.
We cannot understand why He has such a love, and we cannot understand it’s outworking, except we see it in the Saviour Jesus. When we see it, it is crushing to realize the depths of our depravity and the wonders of His infinite love. It is the realization of that love to us personally, that unfreezes our hearts and bends or stiff knees to love and adore Him back.
V5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
It is the Lord who saves His people, not themselves. We would never choose Him, because we are so blind to His truth and His ways, and dead in our own sinfulness. God made us alive to Himself through Christ His son. He made our souls alive when we were spiritually dead in our sins and unable to help ourselves. The Lord Jesus Christ became the mediator to rescue us from our lost state. He did this because of His grace. There was no other reason. Every redeemed soul is saved by grace alone.
Like God’s mercy, His grace pours out on us as a result of His love.
To the person who does not love God, this truth is unattractive. Our sinful hearts want to participate in the transaction and offer something of merit towards our salvation to God. We mistakenly think that we can do this. We miscalculate our deadness! The truth of this scripture that we are dead in transgressions and sins, is hard for us to swallow. We contribute nothing. God wakens us to our need and the danger of our position before Him. He enables us to understand the gospel – the message of how we can be saved, and gives us the gift of faith to believe. None of this is from us.
When we come to God and are changed, we see the glory of grace for the first time. The riches of His grace become amazing to us and the sense of gratitude overwhelms us. The truth of grace can now be seen for what it is.
“For while we were yet weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man. Yet perhaps for a righteous person someone would even dare to die.” Romans 5:6
Paul in this verse, makes it clear where the power to save is coming from. It is not our choice, our understanding of the Word, or any earthly wisdom. God chooses us, we do not choose Him.
“for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast.” Ephesians 2:8+9
This is why there is no difference of status in the kingdom of God. We are all on the same footing, that is, dead people raised to life everlasting.
This theme of death to life pervades these words to the Ephesians. The drama of the salvation of a soul, can’t be more extreme. Christians are people who are saved from death, by the Creator of all life. God makes physical life and is the author of all spiritual life.
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16
Only God can create physical life, though we might try. And only He can bring a dead soul to a resurrected life in Christ. The Christian now shares the life of God, in Christ. Jesus overcame all death for us, not just the physical. We can relate to God and hear and speak to Him, because of this amazing life. Eternal life is a quality of life we now enjoy, because we are redeemed and resurrected.
The person that is now so changed, can understand and enjoy the things they never could as a dead soul.
V6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
God has elevated us to the same position in His kingdom, as Christ. Just as Christ sits in the heavenly kingdom in glory and honour, so also we His people also sit with Him. In this life, we sit there as we fellowship with Christ and walk with Him daily and serve Him continually. Our status is secure, though we are not bodily there, as yet.
Jesus has bought us the right to be there for the countless ages of eternity. He is the one who has secured our salvation and our position before a holy God. This God is our Father and we relate to Him, as Christ relates to Him. We have full with access to the throne of God as we pray and make our petitions to the Father.
God the Father has seated us on thrones in the heavenly kingdoms because we belong to Christ Jesus the Lord. We reign with Him and will rule in judgment through the ages of eternity. We gain all these blessings and gifts of provision and position, through Christ. Without Christ we have nothing at all. Without Christ there is no glory and no one to glory in.
The grace of God has given us life in Christ and salvation from the second death, and has given us positive blessings, again, that we do not deserve. We live by grace and we thrive by grace. Nothing is of our deserving and there is nothing in ourselves to glory in, only the grace of God.
This should affect our lives here on earth, as well as towards God. If we are this kind of people, how should we be living? Our very bearing should be different. Our attitude should be different. The pity is, we do not grasp what we are saved from and to, and therefore live sub-Christian lives that can even be less effective than unbelievers! This should not be…
V7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus;
God raises us up so that all may see the riches of His grace that are without measure or comparison. This is seen in eternity. We get glimpses of the glory that will be ours one day, but God keeps much hidden, as we are not able to bear the reality of them as yet.
However, we have much blessing and glory expressed to us, even in the life and death of our Saviour Jesus. God has manifest His kindness to all because of what He has done for us in Christ Jesus. Christians will be a spectacle of the deepest riches of the grace of God and everyone will see it and know it. His grace is utter kindness. It is not deserved and never could be.
This is not necessarily the glory that the world sees. God’s glory is only appreciated by those who have a resurrected heart and a renewed mind. The deep things of God cannot be understood by a fleshly mind with a worldly outlook, so often Christians are disregarded and overlooked because their characters and behaviour are not useful to the worldly mind.
There are spiritual glories that God reveals to His people.
“…which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written, “Things which an eye didn’t see, and an ear didn’t hear, which didn’t enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him.”
But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:8-10
Paul speaks of a knowledge that God reveals to those who know Him. The Holy Spirit reveals the deep things of God to hearts and minds that have been searched with the searchlight of the Holy Spirit. Minds that are searched by the Spirit are pure and focused on Christ. This is for every Christian, and our heritage is that we know God in a deep and profound way that teaches us to walk uprightly every day.
The Christian will follow Christ in the wake of His life and death.
“But whoever keeps his word, God’s love has most certainly been perfected in him. This is how we know that we are in him: he who says he remains in him ought himself also to walk just like he walked.” 1 John 2:5+6
If we follow Christ, we should mirror His attitudes, words, and deeds. Our lifestyle will be completely opposite to the way of this world and all its strategies. We should be showing the riches of God’s grace in the way we live a life of kindness and service, and God’s work in our lives should be evident to all. It should grow. The person who is walking with God, must make progress, as they conform to Christ and deliberately walk away from this world’s ways. A growing Christ likeness is a mark of a living soul. Staying dormant in the hope of eternity, is not taught in the Scriptures.
Mankind redeemed will be the chief exhibit in the display case of God’s mercy. All angels, cherubim and seraphim will see it and even the devils of hell will see it and grieve against it. Let no human think they are beyond the pale of this blessing. God waits to show His mercy to all who believe.
“For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16+17
V8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
There isn’t a hint of godliness in any of us. The only reason we have been forgiven is the majestic and undeserved grace of God. He chose us for no other reason than His kindness. The faith that we exercise towards God is not our own. It is given to us. We are spiritually dead until God resurrects us, gives us the ability to believe, and brings us into His family. God’s grace has worked towards us in freely available mercy, toward those who believe. The faith we are given is what saves us from the consequences of our sins, and is a gift of God freely given to sinners – people of no standing before Him, in fact, people under condemnation.
God does not give credence to anyone, whether exalted Queen, Lord or a low caste serving girl or boy. Peter had to come to this realization…
“Peter opened his mouth and said, “Truly I perceive that God doesn’t show favoritism; but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34+35
Paul also iterates this in Romans 2:11
“For there is no partiality with God.”
Not one person can imagine that they have any standing before a holy and just God, outside of the sacrificial death of Christ. We have nothing to offer by our filthy thoughts, words and deeds. We are saved from them by the dreadful price paid on the cross, and are brought into God’s family because of grace. Faith is a gift from God, and not worked up in our own hard hearts.
No one can work this up. If God does not do this for us, we remain dead. Our souls have no sense of our God, without His life-giving grace. We accept His gift of love with joy and deep thankfulness.
This offer of the gift of salvation and rescue, causes gratefulness in the saint and resentment in the sinner. The wonders of grace sparkle in the crown of Christ and all His people radiate the glory of the kingdom come. The world does not yet see it, though some day it will. For some it will be too late to turn and be saved, but for an uncountable number of saints in bright array, it will be the dawning of an eternal kingdom for all to see.
The bitterness of heart that pervades Satan, will also overcome those who refuse Christ. They will understand what they have lost out on, and there is no one to blame but their own foolish selves.
The difference between the dead and the living will reach its ultimate conclusion, as the redeemed inhabit eternity with God, and the spiritually dead, receive what they have chosen. This should make us concerned. If you are unrepentant, you need to seek the Lord, now.
If you are a redeemed person, what are you doing to bring others to Christ?
These facts should stir us up to good works, and give us a sense of urgency about why God has put us here in our particular culture at this time.
“In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening don’t withhold your hand; for you don’t know which will prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both will be equally good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6
As in the work of rescue of a human soul from eternal death, so also the work of the Spirit of God in guidance and producing the fruit for God – it is a mystery. So the Christians believer should work unceasingly to spread the message and turn sinners from their ways.
“let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:20
V9 not of works, that no one would boast.
No one has anything of value. We are destitute of righteousness and our seeming good deeds are filthy rags to God. We do not even have the desire for God. The desire for reconciliation is one way, that is, from a loving God. God is willing to atone for our futile works and sinful mind set, and forgive us.
The idea, the method and the operation of salvation is from God. The persons of the trinity made an agreement to save the wretched race of Adam, and elevate them to be the “Friends of God” as they were meant to be. God saw what would happen. Everything that transpires in His view is the present. He sees the end of a thing from the beginning. So Jesus, our Saviour, came to carry out the plan and the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of sinners, to bring them to God. We are saved by the grace of these three persons in one God.
The effect of this on us is gratitude. No Christian can boast about anything they have or can do. We should be lost in wonderment at what God has done for us personally, and all that has been made ours through the work of Christ on the cross. A Christian realizes that all is of God, and there is no room for any boasting of any kind.
All boasting is vain. We have no worthy standing in this world or the next. Vain imaginings that we are somehow better than others is folly. Humility should lead us to our knees to pray and should open our mouths to testify and praise the name of Him, who has done it all.
The fact that we have nothing to boast about should engender humility and not to think of ourselves more highly than we should.
“For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3
We are all from the same fallen race, and included in the human fall into infamy. Any grace given, is given and not deserved. Any forgiveness is given, not deserved.
God will not give His glory to anyone else. He is holy, and He alone is the sovereign Lord over everything. He will not assign the work of saving humans, to foolish humans. He knows the effect of giving glory to us. We become proud almost instantly, and think we are somehow better than others because God chose us. The way things are, are for His glory and our protection. Human beings with nothing to boast about and will stay safe in Christ. If we think we have something going for us, we set ourselves up outside that position, and leave ourselves open to the enemy, who will puff us up further. We are safe, when we are at the bottom of the pile..!
The Christian finds strength in Christ alone. He is the refuge from pride. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.
“Haven’t you known? Haven’t you heard? The everlasting God, Yahweh, The Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn’t faint. He isn’t weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of him who has no might.
Even the youths faint and get weary, and the young men utterly fall; But those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 28-31
This is the place of power for the Christian.
V10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.
Christians were created by God, in Christ, as spiritual as well as physical beings. We are new creations, spiritual beings with living souls that relate to God. We were made that way by God. We are His workmanship, His handiwork, His craftsmanship. He created us in the form of His Son, Jesus, so that we would follow Him in the good works He performed when He walked the earth.
We are able to do these works because we are in the image of Christ and have the ability to do these good works, in the strength of God. Unlike our ungodly works, these good works are made good as they are performed under the provision of Christ. Even though we do things so imperfectly, yet the Holy Spirit beautifies them and makes our deeds and prayers acceptable to the Father.
God has set up our lives, so that we will walk in His ways. He prepares the good works that He wants us to do, worked out in the destiny of our lives. The works wait for us to perform them, in the purpose and mind of God. It is a blessing to know what God wants us to do, and to be sure about doing it.
God also prepares us in advance for the activities He wants us to do. Nothing is a mistake, or an accident for the Christian. Once we grasp that truth, it is very liberating, and our relationship with God is set free from doubt and fear. The events of life make us and mould us into the type of person we should be, and God equips us with the strength and skills we need for our calling.
No Christian is without a destiny. There are no drones in the kingdom of God. The structures in our institutions should not be stultifying people and making them insensitive to real life. We can find ourselves organizing people in a godless way. We can think the ways of this fallen world sound so good and reasonable and logical, that we build constructs around our social setting. We want people to come into our group, so that we are rewarded with recognition and affirmation, but that is not the way laid out in the Scripture. It is God who saves, and the work of the Holy Spirit is not seen or known by us. We obey God and spread the message, for His sake and the sake of the sinner. It is not for the benefit of our little group, or bigger group, as some are. Christians should be ministering to each other in the Lord, not a few active ones and the rest passively floating along. Every Christian, by definition, is an active participant in Christ. We are alive, vibrant and over comers the world…
There are times we end up experiencing God second hand, and never really grow up in Christ. We are kept as children, and cannot step up in faith without earthly props. God must awaken us to live and breathe again, as His beloved people. Let us throw off the earthly rags of self, and seek the Lord, again.
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” Acts 3:19
If we belong to God, we must be actively seeking Him. There are no “free-loaders” to heaven, only redeemed people with the power of God in them and the ability to resist sin and be like Christ. How are we to know these things, if we do not seek God daily and privately, that we might know His word and develop sound judgment? It is easy to follow others that suits our lifestyle. It becomes more difficult if our lifestyle is very different from other people. We will become those who are left out. But God will raise such people to be mighty in His kingdom, though no one might see it.
“For God is not unrighteous, so as to forget your work and the labor of love which you showed toward his name, in that you served the saints, and still do serve them. We desire that each one of you may show the same diligence to the fullness of hope even to the end, that you won’t be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.” Hebrews 6:10-12
V11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “uncircumcision” by that which is called “circumcision” (in the flesh, made by hands),
Paul calls the Gentiles believers to remember their religious position before they came to Christ. They were called “uncircumcised” and therefore unclean. Those who followed the Jewish religion, excluded all Gentiles from any fellowship with God. They were objects of wrath before a holy God. The Jewish converts wanted to hold on to their religious traditions, and perhaps make it harder for the “outsiders” to get in.
Paul explains that circumcision is done by human hands and is an outward physical sign to show who God’s people were. This has been corrupted by human tradition and is now unnecessary, since God has come to people in the person of Christ. There is no need for the outward sign, as those who live by faith now have the Holy Spirit. Those who believe are now set apart by the Spirit to live for God.
The salvation for human kind has now been given by God, freely, through faith, because of grace. Faith is the only way to please God, and not through the unrighteous work done by the hands of men and women.
“the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness;” and he was called the friend of God.” James 2:23
“Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
He reminds the Gentile believers that they were very much “outsiders” They have experienced the grace of God and are now brought into the promises of God through the same faith as the Jewish believers.
V12 that you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
The Gentiles were separate from the culture of Israel and also separate from God. They were left out of Israel because of their Gentile birth. They had no citizenship in that earthly kingdom and had no hope of God’s help as they were not part of the covenant of promise.
They had no hope of God in spiritual life either. There was no hope in this world or the next for them. When people do not know Christ they are without hope and without God in all their lives. Unbelief affects us to the core of our being. The deadness is in mind, spirit and soul, and separates us from God, and any understanding about Him. We are impotent to do anything about it.
However, Romans chapters one and two set out the truth that all stand guilty before God, because the truth about God is actually imprinted on our psyche. We may not have the written Word, but we have conscience and the innate knowing that there is spiritual life and a God who we are subject to.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20
The Gentile believers are dead in sin and cut off and have no spiritual privileges.
The Jewish believers had the privilege of having and knowing the scriptures, and had “a knowledge of God,” but without power. They focused on the outward form of their religion, and depend on it to have favour from God.
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2:28-29
Before we are made alive in Christ we are also separate from Christ. We are not a part of Him. We are excluded from God’s kingdom and are not citizens of the spiritual Israel or the spiritual Gentiles. When people are not safe in Christ they have no hope of escaping the judgment and no hope of true love peace or joy in this present life. This sense of exclusion and the reality of it, was very real for these Gentile believers.
It can be the progression of the culture in a Christian group, that the spiritual fervour that starts it out, can loose its effect. We take on board the mindset of the world, and we become just an organization with a Christian flavour. We become judgmental in a godless way about who can “join our club.” We look at the outward appearance and are insensible to the hearts of people. We want them to look good before they are good….
“Don’t look on his face, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for [Yahweh sees] not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
When our own hearts become contaminated with bad attitudes, so also our judgment. Christians should be spiritual people and able to discern the valuable from the fake.
V13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ.
The preciousness of the blood of Christ is often overlooked. The sacrifice He made has boundless effects. The Christian is redeemed by that blood, which was spilt to pay for our actual sin and the guilt that follows from it. The precious blood deals with our inbuilt nature of sin, and can even change our predisposition to commit wrong and our state of dead unbelief. The work of Christ brings us near to God, though at one time we were far away. Our exalted standing is bought with the greatest possible price- the blood of Christ, bringing us into the kingdom of God.
Although we were so very far away, yet now that Jesus has come, we are brought near to God. Those who had been so far away have been brought close to God through the death of Christ and the blood of that eternal covenant. The blood is a sufficient sacrifice to cover all types and amounts of sin, and the power can cleanse the deepest dyed sinner.
There is no other sacrifice but that one and only death. That payment in that moment in time and space, conquers all sins and makes a person new to God. The wanderer is brought near and made one of the people in God. We are in Christ Jesus, only because of our Saviour Jesus, who shed His blood for us. Without that blood, there is no remission.
“..nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:12-14
The old blood sacrifices were only shadows of the death of Christ. His sacrifice for His people was once for all, and brings the person who exercises faith, into the family of God, and the privileged bearer of the nature of God and full access into the royal palace of heaven. Jesus is able to save all who come, humble themselves, and surrender to Him.
This is the power of the spilt blood in the life of a sinful person.
This is the situation for the gentile believer, who is outside the old covenant. The outsider is now an insider. The great gulf fixed between God and sinful humanity, is breached. There is free access. The veil that kept even the Jew out of the holy place is now ripped apart. The unclean can now be clean. The unworthy are now made worthy. The stranger is now in fellowship with the eternal God.
Because of that profound sacrifice of Christ, the body bruised and broken for us, we now have the free entrance to salvation and to God.
We who have been far away, and are now brought right into the throne room, and have constant access to the place of prayer and spiritual fellowship with the mighty God.
“Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God, let’s draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and having our body washed with pure water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering; for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:19-23
V14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
The preciousness of the blood of Christ is the powerful factor that brings peace between warring factions. The barrier between theses two groups of people, circumcised and uncircumcised, is now gone. Those who were once considered far away, are now brought near. It is not dependant on the birth-right of a nation, or the religious rite of a synagogue, but firmly dependant on God. This is a strong and eternal covenant that can never be revoked.
The barrier is destroyed because of Christ. He Himself in His person, has bridged the gap between Jew and Gentile and also God and humans. Jesus is Peace to us. To know Him brings peace. He is the Prince of Peace. Jesus has made the two opposite sides as one. – The holy God- the Living God, and the sinful person- the dead one. They have been brought together in one family, in one kingdom. In one body, one building, one holy temple not made with hands, a chosen and glorious people…
Jesus has destroyed the barrier that kept people away from God. Jesus has destroyed the wall of animosity between God and sinful people. The temple curtain is torn in half and there is access into the very presence of God for anyone who believes. The law is satisfied through the death of Christ and we are free to enter the presence of God and to walk with Him.
“But Christ having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:11-15
What Christ has done is a monumental act to mercy and love toward us as a race of creatures. Nothing else comes near to its power and efficacy. These are words from the book of Hebrews that bring such joy and relief to the troubled heart. The Lord Jesus Himself is our peace and we can rest all our weight on Him.
Let us ensure we rest only in Him and not in any construction from this world. Our relationship with Him is spiritual and we find this quite difficult since we are human and physical and sensual. We strengthen our hands to work and our knees to pray, as we live in his presence daily. The hostility is really over, but it can take us some time to enter into the light of that fact and rest our confidence on the treaty made in the three persons of the trinity. Peace with God is real peace, and any hostility we may feel or know is the result of un-confessed and un-dealt with sin. So we seek that throne of grace at every opportunity, so that we might live in the reality of peace.
V15 having abolished in his flesh the hostility, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace,
Through the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus got rid of the hostility of the fleshly/earthly law and it’s requirements and brought in a new era of grace, for Jew and Gentile. All the ceremonial commands and regulations about living correctly and the formalities of coming to God were swept away. The way to God is now through Christ and the peace He purchased for those who believe. It is not about the ceremonial law any more. It is about Christ.
Jesus coming in the flesh was God’s means of bringing people to Himself. The out and out war between the spiritual law and the earthly was now stopped, because of Jesus.
The God/man forever united God and man, and Jesus as the first of a new creation. Jesus is the mediator between God and man and He joins the two warring parties by His blood.
This specifically is the case for the welding together of Jew and Gentile. The old law required many rituals and rules for coming to God and pleasing God. This law could never enable a sinful person to satisfy the righteous demands of the Holy God, or make the follower holy. The Jewish religion could not see the truth that the new had come in Christ. They could not accept their Messiah, and give up the law for the riches of grace. Still today, the old religion holds sway, as with many other human religions.
Our pride drives us to do deeds to placate our consciences and try to get favour with God. We seek to be participators in our own salvation. We don’t want to accept the fact that we are dead towards God. This is a massive stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles.
We might want to keep the law of God, but we don’t. The law condemns us and can never save us.
“We maintain therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Isn’t he the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised through faith.
Do we then nullify the law through faith? May it never be! No, we establish the law.” Romans 3:28-31
God is sovereign and He decides who will be saved, and He gives faith as a gift to those who believe. He brings peace through the shedding of the blood of Christ. Lawbreakers are brought near, forgiven and redeemed, and made right with God, holy and earnest to keep the law.
The moral law that we break so easily and often, is the cause of judgment and shame to human beings. We might think we keep that law, but that thought further shows our lack of purity and holiness. To stop the aggression of people towards God, Jesus had to keep the law and then pay the price of redemption for His people. Jesus became our representative to God, the Mediator, the Redeemer, the Saviour and Sacrifice for sin. He made a new kind of person – one who had been involved in sin (made sin for us) and was now a conqueror of it forever. Jesus identified with us in our wretched predicament, and went to such lengths to rescue us. This is love.
Jesus did not come to start a religion, but to show us the way to God and to make it possible for us to come to God. He is the mediator and there is no need of any other ritual and sacrifices. Jesus unites people who believe in Him, because He has kept all the righteous requirements of the law of God, and His righteousness is able to transfer to us and make us clean from our sins and make us god-worthy.
The Christians is one of Christ’s ones. We belong to Him and live in Him. There is no love like the love of Jesus, and those who He has forgiven should love Him more and more. The more we realize what He did for us, will make us humble and full of adoration for His person.
V16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility through it.
By taking human flesh, He wiped out the old order and the huge amounts of blood spilt for sins, in the Old Testament offerings. He became the one-and-only-for-all-time-offering, which was only represented in the pictures of the old sacrifices for sin. The bodies of the lambs offered for the sins of the people, were now superseded by the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. His body took the place of the pictures when Christ was slain for our sins, according to the Scriptures.
Jesus in His human body was able to reconcile God and man. He was able to stop the hostilities so that there was complete and lasting peace. Jesus wiped out the old order of the law and forever stopped the constant shedding of blood for sin. These sacrifices of animals were only a transitory representation of the Saviour of the world. They were never able to pay for sin or give forgiveness and peace of mind to people.
Jesus did this in His body through what He did on the cross. The cross was not just about God, but also man. God’s justice was satisfied, through the love of Christ, displayed on that cruel cross. On the cross we see the horror of our sins, and what it cost Christ to bear them away. God showed His grace to sinful mankind, and people now had a way back to God, and a way to know forgiveness and love. War is over… hostilities have now ceased.
There is no more animosity as the conditions of the peace treaty have been totally met in Jesus Christ. There is no need for rebellion any more, we can put down our arms and enter into the eternal victory that has been secured for us on that cross. Christ is all in all…
“where there can’t be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:11
V17 He came and preached peace to you who were far of and to those who were near.
Jesus Himself has relayed the message and preached the truth to all – people who are far away and people who are near. This is not just geographic location, but to the Jewish tribes, who appear to be near to God, and the Gentile tribes who were once so far away.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.” John 14:27
Jesus preached the words to us, when He walked the earth. His life spoke the way and attitude of God, which we can read about in the New Testament, especially the Gospels. We also see the types and mirrors of Jesus’ character in the lives and words of Old Testament saints. The scriptures proclaim Christ on every page, and we see Him, with the eyes of faith.
Jesus came to bring peace, an eternal and thorough peace to all who believe.
This message and the salvation it brings when believed, is for everyone. Everyone who God will call to believe, enters in to this situation of peace. Everyone who responds in faith to this amazing Saviour, gains an eternity of peace.
“But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this cause they couldn’t believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and would turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things when he saw his glory, and spoke of him.
Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they didn’t confess it, so that they wouldn’t be put out of the synagogue, for they loved men’s praise more than God’s praise.” John 12:37-43
Jesus spoke peace, but He also spoke about the unbelief of religious people. He explains the situation clearly so we do not mistake real faith from a mere form of words. The peace Jesus offers, is only through faith in his name.
Now, there is no such thing as near or far, but only those who believe, or refuse to believe. Those who believe and rest their trust in Jesus are brought near to God. Those who refuse and separate themselves from God are far away. Belief brings us near to God and unbelief leave us as far away as is possible to be.
V18 For through him we both have our access in one Spirit by the Father.
Through Jesus Christ Himself and His sacrifice on the cross, we both (Jews and Gentiles) have direct access to the Father. The curtain that separates us is torn in two, and the way to God is freely available to all. The “one new man” is the work of God. The father draws us near, the Son is the Saviour and Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit brings all God’s people near, when He draws us and prompts us to believe.
The Holy Spirit dwelling in the Christian is the proof that they belong to God and can come to Him with free access. The Holy Spirit is the mark of every Christian, and the communion with Him is what sets us apart from the people of this world and its ways. He is real to the true believer, and comforts and helps us to want what God wants.
The Christian has complete and total access to the Father. We walk by faith and we commune with Him by prayer. Prayer is the Christians breathing. There is no spiritual life without prayer. If our bodies don’t breathe we die, so also our souls. If we do not pray or have no desire to pray, we are dead in sin. The Christian cannot manage without the heartfelt, secret and constant prayer to the Father. We seek Him. We long for His presence and to see answers to our prayers. If we have no love for this, we must question our relationship with Christ. If we have no desire for God, we can question our closeness with Him.
There are times in our lives when we are suffering, when we are unable to pray. At these times we depend on the prayers of fellow Christians. It is always important to reach out to the Lord, even when we don’t feel like it. He will show us His love and grant us our hearts desire for Him.
We are brought near to God and each other as well. The fellowship of the Spirit is a sweet joy in this fallen world. We desire Him more as time goes by. We value His presence above all else, so if He should retreat, we are disturbed. We seek to know why and put it right.
Christians will recognize the prints of the Spirit in the lives of each other. The characteristics of the Holy Spirit will be in the life of every Christians. The fruit of the Spirit will be seen and Christians will know who true fellowship with like – minded people.
“But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?” But we have Christ’s mind.” 1 Corinthians 2:15+16
The identification marks of the Holy Spirit will be in the life and behaviour of every Christian. We can see it in each other and the unbeliever can see it too. These will be a cause of exclusion and rejection for the Christian, as it was for their Saviour. We should not fear this, but rejoice to be counted worthy.
Our actions and reactions will be an abundant testimony to the unbeliever, to show what God can do in a life dependant on Him.
V19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God,
As a consequence of what Jesus has done, those who are brought to faith are not strangers or foreigners or outcasts to God, any longer. We are actually brought into the family of God. We are now sons and daughters of the eternal kingdom. Many people know what it is like to be excluded. Kept out of safety or security and side-lined and counted as a drain on society. To be a foreigner is not a good experience. The person does not belong. They have no rights, and if they do have rights, they are often denied. With no official papers, no passport or birth certificate to prove identity or place of origin, people are shipped back to another place out of the way. There is no dignity, no rights to help, no social support and no status. A “foreigner” is not a good title, except God’s heart goes out to the stranger and outsider.
Once we were far away, as far as it is possible to be. Once we had no rights to safety, or security in Christ, or free forgiveness of sins, nor an eternal home. We lived in the negative towards God, in fact, under His condemnation. Our future was wrath. We had no hope, and were without God always. But not any more…
We are now full citizens of the city of Zion, and that will be our dwelling place forever. No one can exclude us now. We are also part of the family household of the royal King of all Kings – Jesus, the exalted one, and we also with Him.
The witness of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian shows them that these things are true. The promises of the Word of God are applied to the heart and mind by the working of the Holy Spirit. The desire to learn and grow up in Christ is given and promoted by His loving ways.
V20 being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone;
This city we belong to, is a royal city built on the teaching, lives and truths proclaimed by the Prophets and Apostles. The whole Old Testament and the whole New Testament is the foundation teaching of that eternal city. The Word of God is the basis for everything in that place, and its truths will be forever played out in that coming kingdom.
The building of God is made up of living stones, which are the lives of God’s redeemed people. Each one has their place in that glorious structure, and each will dwell together unto God in that day. Jesus Himself is called the chief stone, the crucial stone, THE load bearing stone that supports the rest. The cornerstone.
The godliness of the Prophets and Apostles, and the faithfulness of Gods’ people will rise up and be a glorious and praiseworthy structure for the dwelling of God.
One day there will be unity, though not now, due to the spreading out of God’s people in this world. The sections and denominations will give way to the single structure of the living temple of God. This is not through human negotiation or political positions, but through the refining fire of the Spirit. One day all error and exclusivism will be gone and we will be made perfect in all truth and righteousness. May this day come soon.
It is not good to think that unity means joining up with every place or church that calls itself “Christian.” We must not suspend our knowledge of the scriptures and our personal godliness or conscience. However, no group of Christians has got things totally worked out. Often, if we think we have, we become over-run by self-righteousness and pride. It is good to work alongside other Christians and be able to learn to get along and help each other and teach each other.
If the message of the gospel remains unclear and people are not hearing what they need to know to be awakened by the Spirit, this is a major problem. It can be very hard to sort out what is good and what is error. Only a personal closeness with Christ and a thorough knowledge of the Scripture will be of use in seeking to be wise.
V21 in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord;
In Christ the crucial cornerstone, the whole building of living stones becomes a fabric joined permanently together. These glorious, redeemed ones become a holy temple in the Lord Jesus…
They are set apart for God and worship Him continually. No stone is missing, no stone is out of step with the others. The Holy Spirit builds them together in this everlasting home…
This picture is so glorious. It shows us the end product of God building His temple. Every person is together with the other, and live lives of holiness to the Lord. It is a perfect building, erected in heaven on the last great day. Everything in this life is directed towards that time. We should all be directly working for that kingdom, in whatever way God has called us. As we learn, we should influence others, and each person is purifying the other by their holy lives, as we acquiesce to the Holy Spirit.
Christian unity does not come from a world-wide organisation that promotes God. Indeed, The Revelation warns us of a “world-wide-church” that is anti-Christ and an abomination to the Lord. There have been those who have set up such an organization in the name of Christ, and their error is obvious.
“As we have said before, so I now say again: if any man preaches to you any “good news” other than that which you received, let him be cursed.
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? For if I were still pleasing men, I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:9-10
Our unity is in salvation and spiritual walking with God. We walk with Christ in love and we demonstrate love to those who differ from us, or have different interpretations about spiritual issues. But, we must stay away from those who preach and teach another gospel, and who lead others astray from the truths of God and the doctrines around salvation and what a Christian actually is.
To pollute the message of Christ is really easy. We exaggerate one doctrine above another. We teach a lop-sided view of what Jesus said, and put Him across in a human way, and interpret His words as insecure and open to debate. We can take one doctrine and spread it about with no heed of the full council of God. We need the whole teaching of the Bible, and not just the part we might relate to. We can become embarrassed about God. We are hesitant to speak about doctrines clearly taught, which the worldly person cannot take in. The world thinks it is even-handed, reasonable, and God is not. We think we have a right to question Him, and to disagree with His commandments and statutes. The clay is now wiser than the potter…!
So the gospel message is watered down and made more palatable to the general public. “If we could just get them into church, we could influence them for the Lord.” Once we stop speaking the realty of sin, death and eternal punishment, it is no gospel at all. Instead we lead people stray and make them comfortable in their own conceits, doing the work of Satan and ensuring souls fall into a lost eternity.
We end up counting seats. We have big churches with wealthy people who can buy influence and Pastors that are more worried about their bank account, than the spiritual reality that sits in front of them every Sunday.
It is frightening to think about what Christ will say on that Great day…
“Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’ Matthew 7:22+23
Let us keep away from such, and let us work directly for the Master, wherever He has put us.
“Finally, be all like-minded, compassionate, loving as brothers, tenderhearted, courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or insult for insult; but instead blessing; knowing that to this were you called, that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8+9
A Christian is not someone who had an experience of God and calls themselves “Christian” but someone who exhibits these characteristics. The mark of a true believer is the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and a desire for holiness and prayerfulness towards God.
V22 in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
Paul here referrers to the local group of Christians, the Ephesians, who are also in a smaller fashion, being built together to be a dwelling where God lives by His Spirit. Not a dwelling of bricks and stones, but a spiritual centre where God is with His people. The whole church and the smaller local gatherings will eventually be joined in one on the great gathering in day.
The smaller groups of Christians that meet world-wide are the work of God. These smaller groups of Christian believers are held together, by an invisible thread of love for God and His holy Word. There is no desire to be bigger and better. There are no empires being build for denominations, or around individual preachers or leaders. They do not meet together to be seen, or speak to be admired, or to get something they lack.
We are a spiritual house for the Living God. All human offices of authority are non-existent in this godly group. We are all one in Christ and no one is lording it over others. All share, because the same Holy Spirit is in all. Groups of Christians should not be like any other group. The trappings of worldly authority should not be used in church to maintain a state of acquiescing to another. People should be built up in their faith in such a way that they get strong in the Lord and serve Him in wonderful ways. We grown in Christ through personal study and devotion to the Lord.
Some find themselves mistaking an earthly leader for Jesus. They think the person at the front is a representation of Christ and must be listened to and revered. Personal spiritual life is given up for sitting listening once a week, maybe twice, to this person. We become passive and spiritually weak. We give ourselves airs, and think we are better than others. We become judges with filthy hearts. We are not corrected. The leader is not debunked as Jesus, and the illusion and delusion is propagated and disaster ensues.
Some pride themselves as following the ideas of the Reformation, 400 years ago. Are we are right back in the same religious error today in our orthodoxy. Our attitudes and behaviour is so far away from the pattern of Scripture, it’s embarrassing.
The visible church has become our own “orthodoxy” and we imagine God is pleased because are church doors are still open. As our thinking and doing is far away from Scripture, so our motivations are further away still.
The building is of the Holy Spirit and the living stones are alive by the Spirit. We should be known as such.
“Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3