Main Text: Ephesians 2:1-10
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 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— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are just a couple of weeks into a verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter study through the New Testament book of Ephesians. To a young church needing a fuller knowledge of Christ, the author, Paul, sent a call to Christian maturity. His letter to the Ephesians carries priceless truths about our new identity in Christ and our special calling to live new.
I pray that as a result of this study over the next months that you will be more confident in your position in Christ’s Kingdom and more confident in living your life for Jesus Christ.
Today’s text will stretch us in two directions. It will hurt a bit. It will seem out of reach. It will not be comfortable. We will do some spiritual splits as we read Paul’s very intentional contrasts. Our tendency is to suppress the truth about ourselves (Romans 1:18). During the first part of this teaching, some of you may fall into the trap of thinking better of yourself than you ought. Let’s make a commitment to trust the text more than our own thoughts.
Am I really that bad?
The world today doesn’t look much like the Garden of Eden before the fall. It’s too cold most places and too hot others. People get sick and die. People lie and cheat and attorneys are prevalent as a result of dishonesty. Marriages break up. Relationships and hearts are crushed. Husbands and wives are not faithful. Children are unloved. We have locks on most things. Security systems and cameras exist to keep evil people at bay. Guns are prevalent to stop those who make it through our doors. Insurance exists to protect us against devastating things that might happen. Police forces are looking like assault teams; prisons are overcrowded, and we put to death the worst offenders. We fear bombs in backpacks, shoes, and underwear. We guard borders. We possess nuclear bombs, drones, missiles, armies and military weapons because entire regions of the world believe that westerners are the problem.
In response to a world that is far from the Garden of Eden, we start programs, raise money, and look to education to help. We hope with medicine to return things to paradise. We work hard to fix the problems; when in reality, we are the problem. We can believe that the problem is the bad guys “out there”. We all would like to think of ourselves as the good guy and point to others as the real problem. Since the beginning of time, it is typical of us humans to wrongly assume that we are basically good. The Biblical reality is that we born spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1).
The thought that we are born as the walking dead similar to spiritual zombies is offensive to us. Scripturally, our bodies are alive but the internal part of us that connects us to God (our heart) is dead. This death is why mankind wonders why we are here. This is why humans can’t decide what is right and wrong. We are spiritually dead – we were born that way – our spirits are as lifeless as spiritual road-kill. Unless a person is connected to God through Jesus Christ, they might be physically alive but spiritually their spirits are dead.
What killed us? Paul makes it clear – our sins and trespasses. Sins of omission and commission killed us. We commit sins. Why can’t we stop killing ourselves? We are “by nature children of wrath” (Verse 3). God made us totally good but when Adam and Eve rebelled, it twisted something deep inside their nature and it has been passed down to us. Our outward sin is just evidence of our inward brokenness. We are bent and can’t steer straight. Sin is not just what we do, it is a problem with our very nature.
Our situation is bad! There is a war going on against us on three fronts (verses 2-3).
- our own flesh, and
- the world
We are good with God punishing Satan – he is a liar, an enemy, and has destroyed countless people. We are good with God being mad and punishing the bad people of the world – they have killed and raped – they are liars, thieves, cheaters, etc. We are good with God’s wrath against them. However, when we are guilty, we usually think that wrath is over done – because we think of ourselves as basically good.
Here is the reality. We are really bad. We are so screwed up that we think that we are the good guys when we are really the bad guys. Stretch yourself to realize this honest reality.
Is God really that good?
There is good news! We are so incredibly messed up that God did something about it (Ephesians 2:4-6). What is the heart of God? Is it justice for sin or is it grace and mercy? The answer is both. Justice and mercy meet at Jesus. God came down as a human being in Jesus. He was tempted in every way, just like us. He did not sin. He died. The Bible says that He died in my place for my sin. All the punishment I deserve was placed on Jesus. According to 2 Corinthians 5:21, all of Christ’s perfection and purity was put on me. Now God’s justice is met and his grace and mercy is displayed in me and through me - all because of Jesus!
Our punishment from God is met because Jesus took the entire wrath that we deserve. If I choose to be in Christ through faith, I am made alive in Christ! Since Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death, I rose with Him (verse 6). This was done before I was born –so Jesus did it all. The work is done – all I need is Jesus.
It gets even better! God “seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and we sit with Christ in safety, comfort, privilege, and authority because of Him. The purpose for this is stated in verse 7. We are on display on earth and for eternity showing off God’s kindness and grace. Our saved lives as Christ followers are to be a demonstration of God’s grace!
How should I respond?
Get rid of your ego and boasting (verses 8-9). God saved us completely by his grace. We did nothing to contribute to it. Don’t try to take an ounce of credit for any of God’s goodness in your life. Taking credit is offensive to God. It is insulting to Jesus. It is worshipping you instead of God. Even your faith to trust in Christ and be saved by him is a gift from God. The depravity of man and the goodness of God is the biggest stretch possible. Praise God for your salvation, enjoy it, revel in it, but don’t dare take an ounce of credit for it!
Let your living on the outside reflect the new life in your heart on the inside (verse 10). The word workmanship is a great word. It is the Greek word poemo from which we get our English word poem. It means work of art or masterpiece. We are God’s finest work in the universe! God has recreated us for the purpose of doing good works, not sinful works. In fact, God planned in advance for us to do them that we should walk in them.
As a follower of Jesus, God puts good works in your path for you to do every day. He has put in your path things to do that display your new life in Christ that you don’t deserve. There will be people to help, meals to cook, broken hearts to listen to, friends to pray over, children to cry with, Bible studies to have, and people to encourage.
Made New to Live New!
Apply to Life
This week, as you reflect on the message, think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Ephesians 2:1-10
As you look at the big picture of this passage, how would you break it up (show the main thoughts)?
What is the turning point of this section of Scripture?
Take a moment to describe the turning point in your life of God making himself known to you and you coming alive to the Gospel.
How is being made alive to Christ different than going to church, making good choices, living morally upright, giving our money away, being nice...and the like?
What is the primary message Paul is communicating in this section concerning our salvation?
When do you feel/sense God’s grace the most in your life?
Share a story of showing grace to someone in your life.
What caused you to choose to show grace instead of the alternative?
According to verse 7, for what ultimate purpose have we been saved?
How could someone boast in their salvation?
When you think about your work that God has given you, how do you view your role in your workplace? Are you filling a job position? Do you see your work as a divine placement or a circumstantial income generator?
Pray the following as a group:
- To see the reality of God’s saving work
- To thank him for his grace poured out on us
- To work in this life for the fame of Jesus