Ephesians 2:1-2 - And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 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 sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
I started listening to a sermon last week, which I didn't finish. My thoughts wandered too quickly! I jotted a few sermon notes and ended up writing. ACH!
From the jotted notes: Before knowing Christ we walk and submit to a master, the Prince of the power of the air. When we come to Christ we walk and submit to a new Master, Jesus Christ.
Then I started writing.
I once was held captive by the lies of this previous master until I was set free by receiving Jesus Christ as my Savior. Walking with this old master, as more of Ephesians 2 discusses, I enjoyed the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of flesh and mind. It was my old nature, what I wanted to do, I did. My focus was self. Church--no, didn't need it. I knew who Jesus was. I believed in Him. What more did I need? Devote time to reading the Bible? Nah. Didn't understand it so what was the point? All those "begats" early on got to me every time.
But God...who is rich in mercy and loved me...(Ephesians 2:4) wouldn't let me be. He hounded me! He grated on my nerves...or should I say I took offense to any mention of God, Jesus, "religious" discussion. I didn't even realize it. He used others to keep His name, His person, reappearing in my life. (Thank You, Lord!)
As verse 5 says, I was truly dead in my trespasses. Yet He never gave up. His grace and mercy would come through one day when I least expected it. His grace. Only His grace. How He does it is amazing--and a miracle. (If you need a miracle in your life...) For one so sure I didn't need Him, He broke through the barrier and so touched a calloused heart. He can do this to anyone.
So here I am now, raised up with others like me in heavenly places...only in and through Christ Jesus. Only Jesus can do this. Only He can touch the deepest recesses of our hearts because only He knows what resides there. That should cause one to reverently fear this God! One cannot escape His urgings, although many have chosen to ignore them.
We are told to just look at nature. Through it we see God and all His creativity and power. How does all of nature work? How does a seed know when to drop to the ground? How does the weather change from season to season? How does life begin, live, die and reseed itself to begin again? These thoughts are just too great for me. To know that God is in control of it all is good enough for me. I come with childlike faith.
Verse 8 gives us the whole point: by grace we have been saved through faith in Christ Jesus. Again, only God's grace. None of us are worthy apart from God. Grace is unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification (Merriam Webster). Strong's Bible Concordance puts it this way: the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.
We do not find Christ; we do not seek Him. He knows and searches for us first. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44) Then we (sometimes) respond. It's amazing how He has loved us first while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8) Our salvation is a miracle only God can perform.
While we think we can do good works to make God notice and approve, it isn't true. The good works we do take on a different meaning after receiving Christ. Verse 10 tells us we are HIS workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus. That sorta tells me being self-made, independent individuals means nothing to Him. What strengths, abilities and wisdom we have He has first given to us.
If we can humble ourselves and believe this, we are going in the right direction. He raises the humble but brings down the proud. If you are not sure you really know Him, humble yourself before Him. He came and preached of His peace through salvation through Him...while we were yet sinners. He came to raise us all. Only He can do that. You cannot do it yourself.
Ephesians 2:13-14,17 - But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation... And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.