Are You Functionally Dead?
Pastor Timothy Roberson
By The Grace Of God Home Bible Study And Phone Ministry
(Romans 8:6) “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
My service to the Lord can produce life or death. Death is separation. Spiritually, death is separation from the life of God. “Carnally minded” means “fleshly” or doing something “in the power of the old sin nature.” So if I am carnally minded, I am thinking like the person I was before I was saved. I am thinking like a spiritually dead person – who I was, not who I am now! The end product is a Christian life that is functionally dead. While many are eternally secure in Christ, their daily walk has no life and no power. Many have to continually ask themselves, “Am I serving the Lord in the power of the Spirit or in the power of my own flesh?” The battlefield is in our minds over whether we will think carnal thoughts or spiritual thoughts. It’s easy to deceive ourselves as servants of the Lord. Sometimes we are so busy that we equate our busy life with serving the Lord. We look at the product we produce, claiming it is for His glory when in reality it may have been produced by the flesh. This can happen with our sermons, our music, and our giving of time. When the outcome is in large volumes – people coming forward in a service, dollars piling into the offering plate, large buildings going up – we tend to think the Lord must be at work here. But is the outcome more important than the motive? Is the end result more important than the heart leading to it? Is there life and peace at the end of a road paved with manipulation and reluctance? No, even when the world sees a result that it considers a positive gain, the Lord looks on the heart of His servants. Your life can be full of the life of God and you can have peace in hard times when you allow His thoughts to become yours! If we are not living the way we should be living, we are functionally dead, not producing what we are to be producing. We are acting as a lost man that is, one who is functionally dead, unable to be used of God. Often we assume if one is not living a certain way then they are not saved. This is not true. They are simply not living the life they ought to and are not producing anything useful to God. They are not functioning in the manner in which God would have them to function. This does not mean they are not saved.
To Live Is Christ And To Die Is Gain
Philippians 1:(19-20) Paul's confidence in his present circumstances.
For I know that this shall turn out for my salvation through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.
I know that this will turn out for my salvation (deliverance): Paul knew that the Lord was in control of all events, even though his imprisonment and impending trial made the situation look pretty dark. Through your prayer: Paul was so confident because he knew that the Philippians prayed for him. His deliverance in the present situation was connected to the prayer of the Philippians. Paul valued prayer and it shows what a serious matter prayer is. Through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ: However, it was not the prayer of the Philippians in and of itself that would meet Paul's need. It was the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ that came to Paul through the prayer of the Philippians. Paul's needs were met by the Spirit of God, but this provision to Paul was brought about by the prayers of the Philippians. My earnest expectation and my hope: These are words of faith. Paul mightily trusted God here, and Paul first trusted God that in nothing I shall be ashamed. He believed that God would not cause him to be ashamed or that God would not turn against him in the matter. Though he was in prison and awaiting trial, Paul had the confidence that he was in God's will. He knew God was not punishing him through the adversity he experienced at the time. Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death: Paul also had this trust, and admitted to the Philippians that he might not be released from this present imprisonment, but it might instead result in his martyrdom. Paul lived his life not to preserve and promote himself, but to glorify Jesus Christ. If Jesus should one day decide that Paul could best glorify Him through laying down his life, then Paul would be well pleased by the opportunity. Even so, this must have hit hard on the Philippians who saw God do so many remarkable miracles of deliverance in Paul's life among them in Philippi (Acts 16:11-40). It would have been easy for the Philippians to associate God's glory only with being delivered from one's problems, not in being delivered in the midst of one's problems. It is easy for us to dictate to God how He can and cannot glorify Himself in our lives. Paul wisely left all that up to God. (Philippians 1: 21-26) Paul's lack of fear regarding death and how it affected his outlook on ministry.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
a. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain: Paul knew that death was not a defeat to the Christian. It is merely a graduation to glory, a net gain for the Christian. Paul's death at the time would be a gain in two senses. First, his death for the cause of Christ would glorify Jesus, and that was gain. Second, to be in the immediate presence of the Lord was gain for Paul. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit from my labor: Paul was confident that God intended him to be fruitful. There was no doubt in Paul's mind that this was God's plan for him. If Paul lived, it would be a fruitful life. In sad contrast, many Christians have not yet come to the place where it is a certainty that they will bear fruit for Christ’s sake with their life. For I am in a strait betwixt two: Knowing that his death could be a gain - both for the gospel and for him personally - Paul was torn between being with the Lord or continuing to minister to the Philippians and others. Having a desire to depart and be with Christ: It is strong to say, but one must say that Paul, in some way, wanted to die. In fact, desire describes a strong longing: "He said he had a desire to depart, and the desire was a strong one. The Greek word has much force in it. He panteth, he longeth to be gone." Other men have also wanted to die.
· Some men have wished to die, gripped by the gloom and darkness that leads to suicide.
· Some have been so tired of this world and the cruelty of others that they thought death was better.
Some have wanted to die in the crisis of some kind of suffering.
Paul's desire to depart had nothing in common with these attitudes among men. Paul probably had many motivations to depart.
· Going to heaven meant he would finally be done with sin and temptation.
· Going to heaven meant that he would see those brothers and sisters who had gone to heaven before him.
· Most of all, going to heaven meant being with Christ in a closer and better way than ever before.
Having a desire to depart: "It appears to be a metaphor taken from the commander of a vessel, in a foreign port, who feels a strong desire, to set sail, and get to his own country and family; but this desire is counterbalanced by a conviction that the general interests of the voyage may be best answered by his longer stay in the port where his vessel now rides; for he is not in dock, he is not aground, but rides at anchor in the port, and may any hour weigh and be gone." Paul knew that if he did depart, the journey would not be long. Nevertheless to abide (remain) in the flesh is more needful for you: Paul understood that others still needed him; that his work was not yet done. So while allowing for the possibility of his death, he told the Philippians that he expects to be spared at this time (I know that I shall abide (remain) and continue with you). Paul was confident and full of faith.
Mature Christians (those with mature faith in Christ) welcome death. Mature Saints understand that they are crucified with Christ; they no longer live but Christ lives in them and their life is lived by absolute faith in Christ (cf. Galatians 2: 20). In other words, these Christians would have entrusted their life – all of it – to Christ. Christians may not fear death but they may fear the manner in which they may die; paranoia of a long and painful death may haunt some. This fear may be unnecessary, since our death may or may not be painful. We fear because we forget that God is in total control over everything, and that God will help us even if we are to go through pain. Suffering Christians who are strong in their faith would testify to this fact. We can see now why the day of our death is better than the day of our birth. At birth, our struggles are all ahead of us. At death, they are all behind. We’ve succeeded. We’ve won. Notice what the apostle Paul wrote in both 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Should Christians fear death? Look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13The Christian view of death is “separation.” Ultimate death is separation from God. With physical death, we will be separated from our loved ones on Earth for a time. If they have accepted God‘s plan of salvation and are now saved from the penalty of sin, we know that the separation will be a short blink of an eye compared to the eternity we’ll spend with them in heaven. If they have not accepted God‘s plan of salvation by believing on the gospel that I mentioned earlier tonight, that will not be the case. Our ministry as saints in the Body of Christ then, becomes to use this time together to talk to them about where they will go when they die. Ultimately, however, the decision rests with them. Just as God gives them the room to choose, we must also. We don’t know how we will die. Quick and painless, in our sleep, a long, drawn-out illness—the mystery of it, the inability to prepare, can be frightening. Even if we’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can still be scary. But it is only a moment. A moment nearly everyone has gone through or will go through. And, when that moment is over, we can claim Philippians 3:20–21: For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Many saints believe they shouldn’t die because they have too much to live for. In other Words, they have become consumed with their worldly and material things. In their minds, this means they have responsibilities and unfinished business that wouldn’t be taken care of if they were gone. But let me say this tonight and that is having worldly and materials things you are responsible for won’t keep us from dying. If you have a business or children or other dependents, consider their care. Decide who will take over your role and work with that person to come up with a plan. Look into a will or a trust. Make sure all of your necessary paperwork is organized and easy to find. Reconcile broken relationships before you’re unable to. But don’t live for dying but know that when you are not ready to live until you are ready to die. In other words we don’t have to obsess over death when you have God’s assurance of what His word says regarding death. Many saints don’t like to talk about this, but we should. Let’s get our affairs in order so we say can say like our Apostle Paul, in 2nd Timothy 4:6-7 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: If you have strong feelings about what you want to happen to you should you become incapacitated, express them now. It’s entirely possible that during the course of an illness or injury, you’ll lose control over the situation and be unable to make your wishes known. Get a living will. Let those closest to you know what you want—or at least tell them where it’s written down. Choose someone you trust to be authorized to make decisions for you should you become unable. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 As CHRISTIANS we don't have to fear or worry about ANYTHING, because we know that "ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love the Lord!"--Romans 8:28. That's one of the greatest of all liberations for a saint in the Body of Christ, to be free from fear!--EVERY type of fear: Fear of the unknown, fear of the dark, fear of enemies, fear of failure and fear of death. We have COMPLETE FREEDOM from fear in JESUS! If we trust GOD, then we have FAITH and not fear. You know your Heavenly Father loves us and is going to take care of us and ours--our family, our future, our livelihood even if we lose our job, our wife, our children, our EVERYTHING. We shouldn’t be anxious for anything my friends. It's FAITH in Jesus that keeps us from fear. Faith in God is the best cure for fear as we live in this World! "The LORD is my LIGHT and my SALVATION; WHOM shall I FEAR? The LORD is the STRENGTH of my life; of WHOM shall I be AFRAID? God has NOT given us a spirit of FEAR, but of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND! For perfect LOVE casts out ALL fear!"--Psalm 27:1; 2Timothy 1:7;
Faith and fear cannot totally occupy our minds and heart at the same time.--It's just impossible! Faith is the opposite of fear, and when we have faith, we cannot fear! Turning on the FAITH in our HEART is like turning on the LIGHT in a ROOM! If you go into a room and it's dark, how do you get RID of the darkness? Do you try to SHOO the darkness out? Do we go in with our fists and FIGHT it? No, when we don't want darkness in the room we just turn on the light, right? We just let the light in!--And the darkness turns tail and runs! And that's how we get rid of fear!--By turning on faith! And how do we get faith?--From reading and studying the Word of God rightly divided in our Bible Daily and putting our trust in God’s Word. The Bible says, "Faith COMES by hearing the WORD of GOD!"--Romans 10:17. Faith comes and grows as we faithfully read and hear God's Word! It's the WORD that will strengthen us and give us more faith. So the more we read the WORD And Trust It, the MORE FAITH we will have and the LESS FEAR we will have!
On the other hand, believe it or not, SOME kinds of fear are healthy! It's good to fear--or at least have a healthy RESPECT for--fire, electricity, lightning and anything that can cause accidents and do us or others damage and harm. God has placed within us beneficial automatic reactions, protective instincts that make us react quickly and instinctively to danger! The healthiest fear of all is to fear GOD! The Bible says, "The fear of God is the BEGINNING of WISDOM."--Proverbs 9:10. A part of our LOVE for God should be a healthy RESPECT and FEAR of Him, like a child respects his father, especially if he's been naughty and done wrong and knows that he deserves a spanking! Fearing God is a form of worshiping God. It's giving Him the reverence and respect that He deserves.
ARMOR Of God
Pastor Timothy Roberson
By The Grace Of God Home Bible Study And Phone Ministry
Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; When Paul was writing this particular passage he was thinking of a Roman soldier dressed in armor. If anyone had firsthand knowledge of Roman weaponry it was Paul because of his frequent imprisonments. He had viewed many Roman soldiers fully equipped from head to toe. For those persons who lived in that time, they would understand the image of that soldier preparing for battle. The rise of the Roman Empire was due to the well-equipped Roman Soldier who was trained in strategy, weaponry, defense, and understanding the enemy. Using the Roman Soldier's armor as a visual example, the Apostle Paul describes the Armor of God in the Book of Ephesians as both a defense and an offensive weapon.
He describes six pieces of armor (combat gear):
Put on means literally to clothe or dress someone and to put on as a garment, to cause to get into a garment (e.g., Lk 15:22 where the father says "quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him..."). It is a command to do put on the armor now. Don't delay. There is a sense of urgency that many need to put it on right now. It is our choice to do it. The responsibility is ours to put this armor on. We make the choice to initiate the putting on of God's armor and then we participate in the benefits of having it on. No one is going to put it on us. God is not going to force us to put it on. His command and His good and acceptable and perfect will is for us to put it on, but it still comes down to a choice we must make. It has to do with surrendering our will to His will. Saying no to self (self-sufficiency, self-confidence, etc.) and saying yes to God, obeying Him out of love.
The Battlefield of the Mind
The Whole Armor of God
Please note that the armor is not designed to make it so that there are no afflictions or hardships experienced by believers. It is not designed to make Satan’s attacks go away. Rather, it is designed to fortify us so that the “wiles” and afflictions of the policy of evil can be endured and withstood. God's armor brings victory because it is far more than a protective covering. It is the very life of Jesus Christ Himself. "Put on the armor," wrote Paul in his letter to the Romans, "...clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 13:12-14) “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” We affirm with Paul tonight in Romans 8:37-39 “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This wonderful truth has become reality to all who believe and follow Jesus. When we put on His armor, His life surrounds us and keeps us safe in Him. He is your precious friend, and we are His! So "put on Christ." Galatians 3:27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
He is our victory!
THE GREAT EDUCATOR
The greatest educator in the world today is not the school, or the church, or even the home. It is the TELEVISION! A youngster who graduates from high school has spent approximately 50% more time in front of the television than in the classroom. The values and morals of the major media networks are diametrically opposed to those in the Word of God. Don't think the forces of evil have been slow to recognize the great opportunity presented by such influence. From its very inception, television has been destined to act as the "unifying force" in the plan to degrade, demoralize, and destroy our youth as well as many in the Body of Christ.
CHRISTIANS AND TELEVISION
When Christians wet their appetites with carnal TV (most of which is geared towards illicit sexual activity) they are only promoted and provoked towards more ungodliness. Ministers are especially in this hour indulging themselves in the vicarious sins of the smut ridden TV programs, and then sneaking the "sex" videos and magazines into their homes to participate in the more forbidden pleasures. Never before have God's men and women been so far from His holiness in their actions and thought lives. When a minister steeps himself in the filth of the world, how can he honestly minister the clean, pure, holy word of God? How can he reflect the standard of holiness and righteousness after having an orgy in his thought life brought on by pornographic viewing? There is an epidemic in the land among the preachers. They are consumed with pornography and perversion as much as the unsaved. Satan has unleashed hordes of perverse and sexual spirits upon the land through television in this generation, but Christians, and ministers in particular, are not to dominated by sin, we are to war against the devil and his hordes and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Since when does God's word condone any kind of perverse sexual activity in the name of recreation or entertainment? Television is the Devil's tool for destruction and he has no regard for God and His Word when it comes to what he will use to destroy men's souls, to tear down their moral fortitude and to devastate them through the devices of evil. Since the world has so wholeheartedly embraced television, becoming television robots, the moral fiber has greatly deteriorated and the result is that men and women, boys and girls have become vegetables who do, act, and say everything which the television implants in their passive, putty-like minds. How unfortunate it is that people are no longer able to discern between good and evil, but only reflect what they have seen on television.
Lions Girt About With Truth
Practical Military Purpose
Ephesians 6:14 says, Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, The Roman soldier wore a tunic, an outer garment that served as his primary clothing. It was usually made of a large, square piece of material with holes cut out for the head and arms. It draped loosely over most of the soldier's body. Since the majority of ancient combat was hand-to-hand, a loose tunic was a potential hindrance and even a danger. Before a battle it was therefore carefully cinched up between the soldier's legs and tucked into the heavy leather belt. This was a very important piece to the Roman Soldier's armor. The Roman soldier put around his waist a very wide belt which was the holder for a lot of equipment. There was a loop, for example, for the different swords. Other loops held ropes and a rations sack. When the legions conquered a city, the soldiers would empty out the ration sack to make room for gold, jewelry, and other loot they picked up. There were loops on the belt for darts. The belt was tied in several places to stay in place, so that no matter how the soldier moved about, fell down, climbed hills, etc., the belt was always in place with weapons at the ready. If the belt was not on straight, then everything would be out of place for the soldier. This would cut down his efficiency in battle and may even cost him his life.
Spiritual Warfare Application
Just as the soldier had his loin belt to put on every day to keep his armor together, we must apply the Word of God rightly divide to our lives on a daily basis or we will not be able to maintain our defenses. The belt was the first thing that the soldier put on. Just as this is the first thing a Christian must put on. Much of the weaponry and protection depended on the belt being in place properly. If we do not use the word of God rightly divided as our belt of truth, we have no foundation on which to base our warfare with the enemy. The belt held things in place where they needed to be. The truth of God's word rightly divided does the same for us. Why rightly divided? All of God’s word is truth, but if we don’t handle the way it should be handled as prescribed in 2nd Timothy 2:15 we will see confusion, depression, strongholds, discouragement, and much disappointment. We must give what belongs to the Nation of Israel to the Nation of Israel and we must follow our mail that is given to us in the dispensation of Grace. Look at what 2nd Timothy 2:15 says, it says rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
I had to learn that while the Bible was written FOR all "classes” of people, and FOR our learning, it is not addressed to all people in general. Part of it is addressed to the JEWS, part to the GENTILES, and part to the CHURCH. These three constitute the "Three "" into which humanity is divided. 1 Cor. 10: 32. It follows therefore that while the whole Bible was written for the instruction of the Church, it is not all written about the Church. ALL Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, (2 Tim. 3: 16), and what happened to Israel was written for our ENSAMPLE and ADMONITION, (1 Cor. 10: 11), but we must not apply to the Church what does not belong to it. To do so is to misapply Scripture and lead to confusion. Roman 15:4 tells me that For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. We can have our lions girt about with the truth, but is that truth rightly divided. That belt demonstrates the believer's readiness for war and stands for truth. Knowing the content of God's truth rightly divided is absolutely essential for the believer if he is to battle successfully against the schemes of Satan. Without knowing basic biblical teaching rightly divided, he is subject to being "carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14).
Spiritual Warfare Misapplied
Many Christians have grappled with the question…Is physical healing for today a part of the blood atonement of Christ? I’ve heard people say that Christians should never suffer illness because Jesus has already suffered for us. They are wrongly using Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24, because these verses tell us that the Lord suffered for sins, not sicknesses. The problem with many saints in the Body of Christ today is that they don’t really have right division knowledge of the scriptures to know these scriptures were dealing with Israel. In Romans 9:4 Paul states, “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Peter confirms this further in Acts 3:12 when he addresses the “Men of Israel“. As his sermon progresses, he reminds them in verse 25 that “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” We, on the other hand, are the church in this age of grace as Body of Christ believers.
Let’s take a look at Isaiah 53:4. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” As many will point out, Matthew uses this text in Isaiah to show that Christ healed the many and they always go to Matthew 8:16-17 to prove their point. “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”
Unfortunately, what is missed is the fact that Matthew is quoting Isaiah 53:4 as being FULFILLED at that moment. This is Christ’s earthly ministry, not as part of his suffering. He had not shed His blood yet. Christ’s earthly ministry of healing had nothing to do with the atoning blood. We can’t say by His stripes I am healed because Christ was healing before He went to the cross for our sins. Now the question is and should be what was the purpose of Healing and who was it given to and why? Now let’s look even closer at the makeup of Isaiah 53:4. There is a very small, but important, word that gets overlooked in this verse. It is the word “Yet”. This word is in many translations of the Bible and is used here to show a contrast. The Hebrew Interlinear Bible uses the word “but”. The second part of Isaiah 53:4 is obviously speaking of Christ’s suffering. The Jews considered anyone that was killed or sick “Smitten of God”. Remember the blind man in John 9? The disciples asked Jesus who had sinned that caused this man to be blind. Paul writes in Galatians 3 that “cursed is one who hangs on a tree”. So the term “Smitten of God” is a reference to the sufferings of Christ. If the first part of Isaiah 53:4 had anything to do with the sufferings of Christ, we would have seen the word “and” or “therefore” or “so” or the words “of course” or even “because of this”. On the contrary, the word “Yet” is inserted to show a contrast between the first and second parts of the verse. So let’s paraphrase this verse for the purpose of showing this in very understandable terms.
“Surely our diseases He Himself healed and our sorrows He carried; Yet in spite of all this, we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.”
In other words, “Christ did all these wonderful things, but we still considered him cursed.” Do you see how the word “Yet” changes the whole appearance of this verse? So, not only does Matthew 8:16-17 place the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4 at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, the grammar used in Isaiah 53:4 shows how the first and second parts of the verse contrast each other. I believe that this shows beyond a doubt that Isaiah 53:4 does not contain words of physical healing as part of the blood atonement. A clear reading of Isaiah 53:1-4 will show that verses 1-4a speak of Christ’s walk on the earth and then, with the word “Yet” in 4b, the emphasis turns towards His suffering, His death and His glorious kingdom.
Breastplate of Righteousness
Practical Military Purpose
No Roman soldier would go into battle without his breastplate--a tough sleeveless piece of armor that covered everything apart from his head and limbs. It was often made of leather or heavy linen, onto which were sewn overlapping pieces of metal molded or hammered to conform to the body. The purpose of that piece of armor is obvious--to protect one's heart, lungs, intestines, and other vital organs. The Romans had the ideas for armor design which provided light weight combined with ease of movement and protection from blows. This breastplate was attached to the belt by leather thongs passed through rings on the bottom to keep it solidly attached. It was anchored to the belt, and it was above the belt. Note: the belt had to be put on first, then the breastplate. One key area the Soldier's breastplate protected was the heart. While the heart is the one key organ responsible for sending blood through our circulatory system to keep us alive, our spiritual lives can deaden if our hearts are not right with God!
Spiritual Warfare Application
When you walk in the righteousness of God, it is a weapon of defense against all those slanderous accusations, and outrageous strategies of the devil. We are righteous in God's sight because of what Jesus has done for us. Right thinking and doing right are the part righteousness that we are to protect ourselves with. The mind and the emotions are the two areas where Satan most fiercely attacks believers. He wants to cloud our minds with false doctrine, false principles, and false information to mislead and confuse us. He also wants to confuse our emotions and thereby pervert our affection, morals, loyalties, goals, and commitments. He desires to snatch the Word of God from our minds and replace it with his own perverse ideas. He seeks to undermine pure living and replace it with immorality, greed, envy, hate, and every other vice. He wants us to laugh at sin rather than mourn over it, and to rationalize it rather than confess it and bring it to the Lord for forgiveness. He seduces us to become so accustomed to sin in us and around us that it no longer disturbs us. Our protection against such attacks is the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness is to be taken and wrapped around our whole being, just as ancient soldiers covered themselves with armor breastplates. Paul here is obviously not speaking of self-righteousness, which is not righteousness at all but the sin of pride. Nor is he speaking of imputed righteousness--the righteousness God applies to the account of every Christian the moment he believes in Christ Romans 4:6-7 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
,Romans 4: 11, 22-24). The breastplate of righteousness is the practical righteousness of moment-by-moment obedience to God's Word rightly divided. Our armor must include the breastplate of righteousness--We as saints in the Body of Christ must bring our every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5) and whose mind is set "on the things above, not on the, things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2). 2 Corinthians 5:21 says we are the righteousness of God the Father in God the Son (Jesus). Ephesians 4:24 tells us that the new man believer is created in righteousness and true holiness. Romans 1:16-17 tells us that the righteousness of God is revealed in Salvation. When were saved by grace through faith, we put on the righteousness of God. As saints, we need to walk in it daily. Philippians 3:7-11 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. This is what Paul is saying tonight, “In order that I may personally know Him, that I might both experience His resurrection power and share in His sufferings, and thus I will be more conformed to His death. Paul wanted the righteousness of God so that he could obtain a personal relationship with Jesus in actual day-to- day experience. This knowledge of Christ is obtained by experiencing in daily problems, needs, ministry, and so forth, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Knowing Christ also entails participating in His sufferings. Paul desired to share in the Lord’s suffering because those sufferings brought him into a deeper and more meaningful relation with Him; companionship in sorrow establishes the most intimate and lasting of ties, as afflicted hearts cling to each other.
The result of participating in Christ’s suffering is that Paul was being made like Him in death. Paul was eager to become more like Jesus in His death, so that he could progressively experience more of the believer’s resurrection life now (Newness of Life). Let me say this tonight and that is it sometimes takes a dramatic turn of events to alter our perspective. That was true for Saul of Tarsus. He had treasured his hard-earned reputation for "righteousness" more than anything in the world (Phil. 3:4-6). But when he met Christ on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-6), his whole outlook changed. Later he wrote, "What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ" (Phil. 3:7). Yielding our sinful pride and self-sufficiency to the Lord may seem as if we are losing everything. But only then will we discover that to have life in Christ is to have everything. In order to walk in God’s righteousness, we have to do like Paul. Paul had not just transferred to the loss column all those things he once considered something to be gained, Paul actually thought of all these things as being absolutely useless – “rubbish.” The word “rubbish,” (which is also translated “dung” in some versions) is a word often used to describe table scraps that are thrown out to the dogs. As far as Paul was concerned, all the things in which he once prided himself, he now considers them to be completely worthless – something that can be thrown out to the dogs. This is a remarkable thing for anyone to say – to renounce all the things most Jews as well as many of us would have loved to claim for ourselves. And yet, to Paul, they were something that was not only useless to him, but something he willingly discarded. But why? Why was Paul willing to give up all these things? What was he hoping to gain? He said, “these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3:7-8) But what did Paul mean when said he gave up all these things, “for Christ,” or “for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus,” or “that I may gain Christ?” What was it that Paul gained? Paul says he gave up all these things, “for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” (v. 8) This “knowledge of Christ Jesus” is far more than simply becoming acquainted with His life, or understanding the teachings of Christ. Far too many people know about Jesus, and know about His teachings, but they have never come to truly know Jesus Christ.
Gaining this “knowledge of Christ Jesus” means Paul sought to gain the moral attributes of Jesus Christ – to truly know Jesus Christ in an intimate way. Paul was saying that this knowledge of Christ means having that godliness and that is thinking like Christ, doing things Christ way and laboring with Christ at what He’s doing. Three times in Philippians 3:7-8 Paul said that all “things” he counted as loss. What is it that can keep you and me from increasing in the knowledge of Christ? Things, the love of things and an over-involvement in “things”, will keep us from increasing in the knowledge of Christ. It comes down to what we love and we want the most. That moment by moment obedience to God’s Word means are we willing to suffer for Christ’s sake. The breastplate of righteousness is also the breastplate of our righteous life. Living righteously before God protects us in many ways. There is physical protection, such as from the ravages of alcohol, drugs, sexually transmitted disease, and so forth. Also, our minds are protected from the consequences of willful sin, such as shame and guilt. The Bible says that those who practice sin become slaves to sin, and that is true. The savvy Christian puts on the breastplate of righteousness by living righteously from day to day so he can readily stand against the wiles of the Devil.
Feet Shod With The Preparation Of The Gospel Of Peace
Practical Military Purpose
Some historians credit footwear as one of the greatest reasons why the Roman Army was so victorious over its enemies. The Roman Soldier was equipped with footwear that had spikes on the soles which provided them a strong enough stance and balance that gave them a superior posture in battle on hills and uneven terrain. In martial arts, the stance is the most important move and is what is practiced first, for from the basic stance are all manners of kicks and punches launched!
Spiritual Warfare Application
Offensively this peace will help you to stand with your feet planted firmly on the Word of God and stay there, unmoved by the devil's threats and lies. It will protect us when we walk through the rough places and keep us steady in the heat of a battle. It will keep our spiritual foes where they belong...under our feet. A Christian's spiritual footwear is equally important in his warfare against the schemes of the devil. If he has carefully girded his loins with truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness, but does not properly shod his feet with the "preparation of the gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15), he is destined to stumble, fall, and suffer many defeats. In this passage "the gospel of peace" refers to the good news that believers are at peace with God. The unsaved person is helpless, ungodly, sinful, and an enemy of God (Romans5:6-10). “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. The saved person, on the other hand, is reconciled to God through faith in His Son.” (Romans 5:10-11; For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement).
(2 Corinthians 5:20-21Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.).The gospel of peace is the marvelous truth that in Christ we are now at peace with God and are one with Him. Therefore, when our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, we stand in the confidence of God's love for us, His union with us, and His commitment to fight for us. The believer who stands in the Lord's power need not fear any enemy--even Satan himself. When he comes to attack us, our feet are rooted firmly on the solid ground of the gospel of peace, through which God changed from our enemy to our defender.
Peace with God And Peace of God
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Before a person is saved they cannot know either one. We are actually enemies of God. We are born with a sin nature which is bent against God in every way. We cannot please God. We are not at peace with God, and we do not have the peace of God. We are God’s enemy and we are hostile toward Him. When we trust in the gospel by which we are saved by believing that Jesus Christ died, was buried and arose on the third day according to the scriptures, we are saved. we become a new creation and things change. We were alienated and hostile toward God, but once He redeemed us we become children of God instead of enemies of God. Jesus can present us holy and blameless before a holy God. What a difference! We obtain peace with God, the moment we are saved. Those who are not believers do not have peace with God. It is impossible! That may explain some of their actions and many of their worries and fears. There is a war waging inside them between themselves and God. They are spiritually dead.
Peace of God
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Now we get to the exciting part for Christians. You, right now, this moment, no matter what’s going on in your life; no matter how you feel; you have the peace of God! That is a bold statement for me to make. But it’s true. We all have it. God has given us everything we need to live a peaceful life, but most of us don’t realize it. Let’s go to scripture and see what God says. First of all God tell us not to be anxious about anything. If it were not possible He would not have told us that. It is a command, and if we are to be obedient we have to learn how we can cease from anxiety and worry. He gives us the antidote right here. We go to God in prayer and ask Him to meet our needs, and we do it with an attitude of thanksgiving. He says to make our requests to God. When we do that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds if we are believers. And, we will be surprised at this peace because it goes beyond what we can comprehend. Then, Paul says to do the things he taught them, and to look at his life as an example, and when you do the God of peace will be with you. Isn’t that amazing? It is all right here. God is the God of peace. He originated peace. Philippians 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. When we were saved we received the Holy Spirit as He came to live in each and every one of us. Having the Holy Spirit allows us to grow the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We already possess these fruit, but in many of us they lay dormant. They need to be cultivated by renewing our minds with the Word and acting on it in obedience. You will notice that peace is one fruit of the Spirit. See there it is! We already have it!
Shield of Faith
Practical Military Purpose
The Romans had a long, rectangular, knees-to-chin shield which protected from arrows and spears and could be knelt behind during an arrow barrage. It was quite a bit heavier and clumsier that the smaller Greek circular shield; but there was a series of exercises, a manual of arms, designed to give the soldier flexibility and strength in the use of the shield. Groups of soldier who were besieging a town could form close together and hold their shields over their heads to make a huge circle to protect the group from fiery arrows.
Spiritual Warfare Application
In this verse, the Roman shield stands for the faith of the believer in the promises of God. The value of faith lies not in the person exercising it, but in the person whom the faith is in. Faith is something that all people possess and use every day. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes through hearing the Word of God. Knowing the Bible and the God of the Bible gives us greater faith. Remember it is God that fights with us and that is some awesome protection. The faith Paul refers to here is faith in God, which is immeasurably more reliable than practical, everyday faith we live by. And it is far from being blind faith. Faith is only as reliable and helpful as the trustworthiness of its object. The Christian faith is infinitely powerful and because the object of faith is Jesus Christ, it is the infinite God. Our faith should never fall because the One in whom our faith is placed never fails. Satan continually bombards God's children with the flaming arrows of immorality, hatred, anger, covetousness, pride, doubt, fear, despair, distrust, and other temptations. Every temptation, either directly or indirectly, tries to get us to doubt or distrust God. The purpose of Satan's missiles is to cause believers to forsake their trust in God, to drive a wedge between the Savior and the saved. Put up the shield of faith and that won't happen to you.
Helmet of Salvation
Practical Military Purpose
The Romans had the best helmet of the ancient world. Many other nations used helmets of cloth wrappings, animal hides or bones, or hooves, etc. The Roman helmet had chinstrap, visor, and came down to cover the back and sides of the neck. Officers' helmets had a ridge on top on which was mounted plumage or some sort of brush, depending on the rank.
Spiritual Warfare Application
The parts of the Roman helmet were: a lining of leather, softened for comfort and good fit; the helmet itself which was a bronze cast for the soldier, or iron alloy for officers; a metal crest for the plume; and a chinstrap. The highest ranking officers had gold and silver alloy helmets for parade dress.
That Paul relates the helmet to salvation indicates that Satan's blows are directed at the believer's security and assurance in Christ. The two dangerous edges of Satan's spiritual broadsword are discouragement and doubt. To discourage us, he points to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems, our poor health, or to whatever else seems negative in our lives. He wants us to lose confidence in the love and care of our heavenly Father.
Doubt is what often brings about discouragement. Doubts about the truths of God, including doubt about one's salvation, are the worst sort of discouragements for a believer. If a believer doubts God's goodness or dependability, or if his relation to God seems uncertain, he has no ground for hope and therefore no protection from discouragement. The person who thinks he has nothing worthwhile to look forward to has no reason to fight, work, or live responsibly. Since Paul is addressing believers, putting on the helmet of salvation cannot refer to receiving Christ as Savior. The only ones who can take up any piece of God's armor are those who are already saved. The first aspect of salvation, justification, is a past reality. It was accomplished the moment we trusted in Christ. That particular act of faith need never be repeated because we are secure in our Father's hands, and no one can snatch us from there (John 10:28-29). We are forever saved from condemnation (Romans 8:1).
A well-designed helmet will protect you from various angles of attack. The greatest battlefield is in our minds. This is the area that the enemy wants to attack the most. One key area he wants to damage is our assurance of salvation. Paul gave some good advice in Philippians 4:8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. We must be on guard on what we let run free in our minds. Satan is very subtle in these areas. He has blinded the world and he will do the same to the unsuspecting or careless Christian. We must have a clear mind to be discerning in all situations. This comes by immersing yourself in God's word and prayer. The second aspect of salvation, sanctification, involves our life on earth, during which we experience a measure of freedom from the dominating power of sin. Being now under God's grace, sin no longer has mastery or dominion over us. We are no longer a slave to sin but to God (Romans 6:14, 18-22). The third aspect of salvation, glorification, is yet future. One day we shall be saved from sin's presence. It is this final aspect of salvation that is the real strength of the believer's helmet. If we lack hope in the future promise of salvation, there can be no security in the present. That's why Paul called this same piece of armor "the hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:8). In Romans 8:23-24 Paul explains further, "Having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved." The helmet of salvation is that great hope of final salvation that gives us confidence and assurance that our present struggle with Satan will not last forever. We know we will be victorious in the end!
Sword of the Spirit
Practical Military Purpose
Paul spoke of one of five different types of Roman swords. This one was a two-edged sword with the end turned upward. It inflicted much more damage than the other swords. Not only was it intended to kill, but also it could rip the enemy's insides to shreds. It only needed to penetrate the enemy a depth of two to three inches to mortally wound him. Another advantage to this sword is that the soldier did not have to turn his sword around to inflict damage to the enemy. It cut in two directions. This was seen as a very deadly and powerful weapon. In today's world it would be the same as the difference a standard .32 caliber 6 shot revolver and 9mm semi-automatic pistol with a 15 round magazine. Paul describes the Word of God as an awesome and powerful personal weapon.
Spiritual Warfare Application
Our sword of the Spirit is the word of God. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus quoted His Father's words and spoke them with authority. Consequently, each Word was like a sword-blow to Satan's head! God has given us the authority to use His words because we are all ambassadors of Christ. God speaks with ultimate authority in the universe. He spoke and the universe came into being from nothing. When we speak God's word according to his will, there is no power in the universe who can withstand it! Paul explicitly states that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. As such it is first of all a defensive weapon, capable of deflecting the blows of an opponent. It is the believer's supreme weapon of defense against the onslaught of Satan. However, unlike the shield, which gives broad and general protection, the sword can deflect an attack only if it is handled with precision at close range. It must parry the enemy weapon exactly where the thrust is made. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, His defense for each temptation was a passage of Scripture that precisely contradicted the devil's word (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). The Christian who does not know God's Word well cannot use it well. Satan will invariably find out where we are ignorant or confused and attack us there. Scripture is not a broadsword to be waved indiscriminately, but a dagger to be used with great precision. The sword of the Spirit is also an offensive weapon, capable of inflicting blows as well as deflecting those of the enemy. Scripture is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:12-13). The Word of God is so powerful that it transforms men and women from the realm of falsehood to that of truth, from the realm of darkness to that of light, and from the realm of sin and death to that of righteousness and life. It changes sadness into joy, despair into hope, stagnation into growth, childishness into maturity, and failure into success. Every time God's Word leads a person to salvation is a demonstration of its power to cut a swath through Satan's dominion of darkness and bring light to a darkened soul. May you use that formidable weapon with great skill, as well as the other pieces of spiritual armor available to you, for the glory of God and the furthering of His kingdom.
Death and the State of Mankind
By The Grace Of God Home Bible Study
Pastor Timothy Roberson
By The Grace Of God Home Bible Study And Phone Ministry
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
These three verses each describe some special aspect of sin as it relates to man: his state, his world and his heart. We will discuss them one by one. A)
A Description of Man’s State (2:1)
B) A Descriptions of Man’s World (2:2)
C) A Description of Man’s Heart (2:3)
The Description of Man’s State
(1) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).Paul very clearly here declares the state of mankind in its natural state. Notice the “you.” One would not think he would write such things about the believing Ephesians after writing so nice of them in chapter 1. After all, are they not the saints from verse 1? Are they not the ones blessed with every spiritual blessing in verse 3? Are they not the ones who are chosen in Christ? Are they not the ones predestined to adoption in verse 4? We could go on and on to remind ourselves of the wonders of those believers in Ephesus. But why now, does Paul state that they are dead in their trespasses and sins. Paul is writing to the members of the church in Ephesus, described in the opening of the epistle as the "faithful in Christ Jesus." These are people who had obeyed the gospel (Acts 19); they had been baptized into Christ (the "one baptism," Eph. 4:5), and that act of obedience is described here as God making dead people alive! Before their response to the gospel they had been "dead in trespasses and sins." When these sinners heard, believed and obeyed the gospel - they were raised from the death of sin, and "made alive" by the power of God (see also, Rom. 6:1-4). Before responding to the gospel, these dead people had been walking "according to the course of this world," and "according to the prince of the power of the air." They just did what everybody else was doing, conforming to the fashions, practices and sinful habits of the society they lived in. They were, at that time, obeying the devil instead of God; and the devil's influence is described here as "the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience." This is why, though walking, they were dead. If you just live the way everybody else lives; if you walking according to the course of this world, and follow the impulses of the flesh and have not been saved, you are spiritually dead. The Ephesians were not the only ones who had followed the path of sin. So it says here: "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." As Paul said in another place: "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:23). In talking about their previous life of sin and the resulting spiritual death, Paul broadens the indictment to include "all." In the dispensation of grace in the Body of Christ, if we choose to walk in the flesh and live in the flesh we will become functionally dead, ineffective. This is why Paul encourage us in Galatians 5:16 to walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
In verse three, there are further descriptions of one's condition before obeying the gospel:
"THE LUSTS OF OUR FLESH"
Before obeying the gospel, this is what our lives are about: living without divine restraint, therefore engaging in "the lusts of our flesh." This is why Paul taught: "Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh," (Gal. 5:16).
"FULFILLING THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH AND OF THE MIND"
In other words, at that time, they did whatever they wanted to do; and this life-style or conduct and were spiritually dead until we were regenerated. The only means of regeneration is by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. No amount of good works or keeping of the Law can regenerate those who are spiritually dead. “By works of the law no human being will be justified in [God’s] sight” (Romans 3:20). We don’t need renovation or reformation or reorganization; we need to be regenerated. Before salvation, we were degenerate; after salvation we are regenerated. The result of regeneration is peace with God (Romans 5:1),
Let us look at the three key words in Ephesians 2:1. Many words in the Bible come alive when we take a look at their meanings in the original language which is in this case Greek.
‘Dead’ refers to one who had life but now is without life, communication, alertness. He or she has now deceased, departed or become inanimate. Dead—A dead person has eyes but cannot see, ears but cannot hear, lips but cannot speak, feet but cannot move. The spiritually dead have within them no ability to respond to God. Unless someone raises them to life, they can never know the God who made them.
The word ‘trespasses’ means a lapse from the standard. It is often used in a more mild sense where one has done wrong out of ignorance. “Oh, I’m sorry. I trespassed on your property without knowing it.” “Oh, that is yours. I didn’t realize it! Please forgive me.” It is interesting that it does not speak of major consequences or open and flagrant disobedience. Perhaps he is emphasizing that we only need a minor infraction of God’s law to become guilty.
It means literally ‘missed the mark.’ Think of an arrow that is shot and does even get near the target. It missed it. One can think of our lives having a purpose that God has given to us, but for one reason or the other, we do not hit that target. We don’t even get near it. We have missed the target for which we were designed. God designed us for one thing, but we have consumed our energy, mind and body on other matters.
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). It is obvious that the apostle is not speaking about our physical lives. This is proven by the following verses. He instead is speaking about that death which devastated Adam long ago when he ate the forbidden fruit. “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”” (Genesis 2:17). God could have rightly snuffed out Adam’s physical life but chose to let him and his many descendants to live on earth for a short time. God did not have to do this at all. This pause before judgment is a period of grace. We benefit from this ‘breathing room’ of life. Seeing that the whole human race was implicated in Adam’s crime, most of us have what some call ‘a second chance.’ Whether Adam’s sin was called misdemeanor or not, it was still an offense with a clear and obvious judgment. The wages of sin is death.
Spiritual death speaks of a lack of communication and contact with God. More than this, man lost the resultant joys and love he otherwise had when he was in communion with God. The passage couldn’t be more clear. “You were dead.” You might be thinking of all the sorts of religions around. How can it be said of people that they do not believe or recognize God? We are spiritually dead. We are cut off from God. This is true even though we might not understand it. God said it. Jesus said it (in an implied way).
The apostle clearly states it here. All of Jesus’ references to eternal life or spiritual life imply the sentence of death on our lives. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48).
Paul at once declares our lost state and the reasons for it. Apart from the spiritual life that God offers in Jesus, all mankind live in a state of death. For those who have seen dead bodies, it can be an eerie experience. Something is not quite right. The same is true in a spiritual sense. Our ability to believe that all is well in our lives without God is good proof that we are in the dark. Spiritually dead people are unaware of what is good, right or normal. Paul presented this stark truth to shake up our tolerance of religion. The meaning of religion is 'man’s attempt to fill his spiritual vacuum.' Religion, however, is just dead bodies in spiritual-looking clothes. Closely analyze some religion, and you will find the corruptness that we will read of in the next few verses. It might be looked on as spiritual by many, but clearly it is not. There are many who like to think of them as ‘spiritual’ in this modern world, but they are totally deceived. People can talk and chant, but they are spiritually in the dark. Those that donate their thousands, millions or billions still have an issue to deal with like all of mankind–we are spiritually dead. The picture Paul gives us in Ephesians 2 does not please most people. They like to think well of themselves. It is easy for them to think that God chose them because they were good, perhaps because they are lovable, cute, kind, eat vegetarian, charity givers, moral, try hard, religious or call themselves Christians. In many cases they actually believe they have an association with God. They all think that they have enough light in them to recognize God. This is the grand misconception of the modern world. They think they are alive when they are dead. The word ‘dead’ means that all of us on our own cannot in any way breakthrough into life. We totally lack the insight, wisdom, affection, will or power to connect to God. This is exactly the opposite picture that religions, including humanism, announce. They believe there is that residing essence of life in man. Can a dead man be partly dead? If his life is gone, then he is gone. There is no way for him to decide I want to be alive and then by some self-will become alive again. He is completely incapable of restoring life to himself. The apostle speaks about all of us, not just the so-called bad segment of the society. This is the natural state of man. This reminds us of contrast against what we saw in the first chapter. Let's summarize the implications of what Paul has stated in verse 1.
Every human being is condemned to a life without God.
We have no way of bringing life back. We cannot reconnect ourselves to God.
We are miserable, devoid of spiritual life and live out lives without God’s special touch.
No matter what anyone else does or does not do, we need to ask what we really believe about ourselves and mankind in general. If we think that by your inherent goodness, affection for religion, devotedness to some good thing can save us, then many will forever be lost. Many will never seek for help or salvation unless we realize that we are ‘dead lost.’ Our hope starts when we can admit we are spiritually dead. Admit that we have no hope. Admit that we deserve eternal judgment for our trespasses and sins. Only then, like the Ephesians of old, we can find life in Jesus. There is no life found but in Christ. All our confidence that it will work out okay is plain old deceit which keeps ourselves, our children, parents, friends and neighbors from God. Only a true understanding of mankind’s spiritual deadness and condemnation can awaken us to the fact that we ought to tell others about Jesus. Without Jesus, people perish in their trespasses and sins. “Jesus said ..., “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).
Do You Fear Death?
Pastor Timothy Roberson
By The Grace Of God Home Bible Study And Phone Ministry
Many Saints Need To Know That They Are Not Alone.
One of the key passages in 2 Corinthians is greatly needed today. As a matter of fact, there never has been a time when it was not needed. It is at once both timely and timeless. Let us look together at this brief portion of two verses:
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
When Paul spoke of the God of all comfort, he was speaking of a knowledge of God that he himself had experienced. Undoubtedly he included himself in the plural word us in verse 4. I take this as his personal testimony that in all of his troubles and tribulations, he was comforted by God. That comfort did not merely enable him to endure his trials but also allowed him to glory in his sufferings for Christ‘s sake. Paul's knowledge of God as the God of all comfort is therefore not a mere intellectual and academic one; it is a blessed and rewarding experience. He knows what he is talking about. He suffered such severe tribulation all through his life as the apostle to the gentiles and as an ambassador for Christ. The Christian who is suffering needs a special kind of comfort that only God can give. As our loving Comforter, He stands by our side to minister the soothing balm we need. And He do this through the Word of God. Linked with the description of God as the God of all comfort is the statement that He is the Father of mercies. Mercy is the outward manifestation of compassion for others in their affliction. Mercy had its origin with God, who is called its Father. All acts of pity and compassion proceed from Him. God has a tender feeling of compassion for us when we are in distress. Our trials, however slight or severe, have His attention. God showed his mercy by providing for our eternal salvation, for it was according to his mercy he saved us (Titus 3:5). In another epistle, Paul wrote, He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32). One of the all things is His comfort. All things . . . all comfort. The word all in the Greek is a strong word. It means every kind, every variety, the whole of, or the totality of the thing referred to.1
God's comfort is unique. It is infinite, inexhaustible, immutable, and indestructible. Our afflictions are temporary and transient; God's comfort is everlasting (2 Thessalonians 2:16). It is available at all times. Like the Savior's comfort, the Spirit's comfort is for believers. It is only for those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. You see, when a sinner trusts Christ by believing on the gospel by which we are saved, the Holy Spirit enters his body to take up permanent residence. All truly saved persons, without exception, are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20). This is a pertinent and precious truth, particularly when one is experiencing suffering or sorrow.
Why Do So Many Christians Fear Death?
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Paul gave this Scripture to Timothy right in the midst of telling him to stir up his spiritual gifts, to testify for Jesus Christ, and to share with Paul in the sufferings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Satan doesn't want us to get out and do the work of an evangelist. He doesn't want us to share the gospel with others, and he wants us to be afraid of the suffering that we may or may not experience if you do live godly in Christ Jesus. Looking around at many Christians, it seems that Satan has succeeded to stop many from moving forward by means of this one evil power alone. Many Christians today are oppressed by a spirit of fear. Fear stops people not only in the areas of witnessing. The fear of rejection has hindered people from beginning wonderful relationships. The fear of failure has held many back from putting their total trust in God. The fear of death paralyzes and torments many. There are many other kinds of fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but unfortunately, many Christians have received a spirit of fear at some time in our life. We received what the devil was handing out to us. Many times, we received it before we received the gospel by which we are saved, and many have not known God and His Word well enough to get rid of it since that time. One thing is clear, no saint in the Body of Christ received a spirit of fear from God. A man was once robbing a bank. In the midst of it, a woman comes up to him and tells him to put the gun down, and give himself up. What gave this woman such tremendous courage? She was the man's mother, and her love for the son overcame that sense of fear. Fear tends to attract evil upon us, just as faith tends to attract the goodness and blessings of God. Fear is a substance of things we hope won't happen; it’s almost like a conviction that will happen. Fear is faith in reverse. God wants Christians to be free of such fear.
What we actually need is the actual consciousness that God is within us, and around us, and over us. And we need to know who God is. God is greater than the devil. There is no comparison. Jesus said, "I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you." If we are aware of the presence of Jesus with us, we really can't be swallowed up or dominated by fear. Fear cannot control us. Ultimately, it must be driven out, in all its forms. We've seen before the Scripture that "perfect love drives out fear" But where does this perfect love come from? One thing to be sure of - it doesn't come from ourselves. This perfect love comes from the Lord and totally trusting Him and His Word. God is love and putting our trust in Him and His Word drives out the spirit of fear. Daily make more room for God in our life. Make room for Him through much prayer, through more meditation on the Word of truth rightly divided, through verbally praising the Lord with our mouth and with our music. One of the ways that a Christian is distinguished from the unbeliever is by his attitude toward death. For Paul, death was a promotion. For the unbeliever, death is a terrifying thought. May I ask you, my friend, “How do you deal with death?” Do you seek to avoid it, or to deny it? Then I would suggest that you may need to experience the same conversion that Paul did, as he describes it in Philippians 3. In his case, Paul was a very religious man, zealous about his religious deeds. But he was also very lost. Those whose sins have been forgiven and who are assured of eternal life need have no fear of death. Those who are trusting in their own good works, and who have not come to faith in Christ, have everything to fear: This is the way King David, a man who faced many dangerous battles, looked at it." The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1) Because David was conscious of the Lord's presence with him, and because he knew God, David did not walk in fear. To have the full consciousness of the presence of the Lord with us in these days, eliminates the spirit of fear.
It's a heartache to me as a pastor to realize that so many Christians lack the assurance of their salvation. They lack the confidence that their sins are truly forgiven and that their place in heaven is eternally secured. Many saints in the Body of Christ fear death and have doubt because they are not under strong biblical preaching on God's holy standard. Such preaching forces people to see their sinfulness and acknowledge that the holiness of God calls them to a higher standard of living. Is that bad? No, the pulpit should be the creator of anxious hearts. How else can it unsettle those who have fear and insecurity? However, the consistent call to righteousness may unsettle some Christians, particularly those who are frequently succumbing to temptation. But that kind of preaching is rare. Rather than leading their people to examine themselves and make sure their assurance is valid, many preachers feel it's their duty to make everyone feel good. However, those who preach as they should will find some in their congregation plagued with doubt.
With what’s going on in the world today, many Christians are afraid of death. Many do not realize that we are not exempt from mass shootings, crime, homicide, and catastrophic events. When many hear about a plane going down, many refuse to fly. Why, because they are afraid of dying. Many do not realize that death can be sitting two tables over from us in a restaurant strapped with bombs. Death can be waiting when we drive from one destination to another. Death can be waiting at the shopping malls. Death can be waiting at the movie theater.
Do you fear death or dying, or do you worry about end of life issues?
Many people, including Christians, are afraid of death or afraid of dying. In fact, many people are consumed by the fear of death and dying. Or they are afraid of suffering as they die. We do many things to avoid death, the pain of death, and the uncertainty about what awaits us after death. Some people refuse to plan their wills or attend funerals, for that forces them to think morbid thoughts. Others avoid new ventures that involve air travel. Still others of us shrink back from sharing our faith where it would mean persecution or possibly martyrdom. If we are going to be people who live Christ-centered, we cannot let death bully us with concerns about death itself, the manner of our demise, and what lies just past the door to the afterlife. Instead, we must be fully assured that Christ’s work on the Cross and in the resurrection means for us that there is nothing to fear. People fear they will be a burden to others in their last years, or that their spouse or children who are left behind will suffer. Many saints today are afraid! They're afraid of the future, they're afraid of what's going in the World, they're afraid of each other, they're afraid of social pressures, afraid of failing in school or work, afraid of being unemployed.--Afraid that they won't have enough money for their families. They worry about so many things! MUCH of this type of fear, believe it or not, stems from selfishness, from being overly concerned about one's self, one's self-preservation, self-image, what the future holds for one's SELF. When love" that comes from Jesus fills our lives, it crowds out this type of selfish worry and fear, and when our hearts are filled with love for others, then we don't think and worry about ourselves so much.
If you too worry about or fear dying, take some time to read and meditate on the passages in this Bible study. Pray as you read and trust God and His Word concerning death and let Him help us see things through his eyes. God does not want us to be afraid of death or afraid of dying. The Bible teaches that death is not to be feared. Apostle Paul welcomed death (Philippians 1: 21). (Ephesians 2: 6), Christians should eagerly await their death (Philippians 3: 20-21). If Christians fear death, it is because they remain ignorant of the biblical teaching behind life and death. When a Christian fears death he remains spiritually weak. He or she is not strong to trust God and His Word and believe that it’s going to be just like He said. My friends trust God and walk in his Word daily. Meditate on it, chew on it, and get all wrapped up in it. Romans 8:36-39 reveals Paul’s resolve to not be moved, “As it is written: For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul was utterly convinced that not even death could separate him from God. He could sleep peacefully with the thought that he might lose his life at any time. There was no fear of death for Paul because he understood that even death could not severe the relationship that he had with Jesus Christ.
There is the physical death of this mortal life. The cessation of living in our human bodies when the heart stops, the brain ceases to function, and a person is declared legally dead, but physical death does not destroy the spirit of man. Let’s see physical death, come with me to Genesis 5:4-11 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: 5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. 6 And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: 7 And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:8 And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died. 9 And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: 10 And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:11 And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died. There is the spiritual death – the death of anyone who refuses to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and his redemptive work on the cross. Finally, there is eternal death. This is a death that is worse than the first two. It is eternal torment in a hell fire that never ends. On the other hand, if a person chooses to place their faith in Jesus Christ, then they will be with the Lord God for eternity after they die. Everyone alive will experience a physical death unless the Lord return for us before it occurs. Physical death is an inability to respond, no matter what the stimulus is. Physical death means you can't react. You've been to enough funerals, and so have I, to know what physical death is. It doesn't matter what the stimulus is, no physically dead individual ever reacts to any stimulus.
Ephesians 2:1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Spiritual death is an inability to respond to things of the spirit. The very picture of being dead and the need for God to impart new life strongly implies a lack of ability on the part of the dead sinner to do anything to effect his own resurrection. When Jesus, standing by the grave of Lazarus, cried out (John 11:43), "Lazarus, come forth," Lazarus didn't exercise his free will to come back from the dead! He arose because Jesus imparted life to him. That miracle was a picture of what Jesus had said earlier of spiritual life:
For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. John 5:21
Jesus goes on to say in John 5:24-25
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
Spiritual resurrection is the only solution to spiritual death. By saying that we were spiritually "dead," he means the kind of deadness that requires a resurrection. So when he says "dead," he means dead, and not just weak or sick. There was no superficial solution. It really took a spiritual resurrection to save us from our state of sin. The spiritual life within us, we owe it to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Notice what Paul is NOT saying, he is not saying that we were handicapped. He did not say that we were sick. He did not say that we're misguided by our social surroundings. He says we were dead! We were without any spiritual life at all. So spiritual death includes being separated from the holy God because of our sin, but it also includes being spiritually incapable of responding favorably to the truth of the Gospel unless God raises us from spiritual death to spiritual life.
In Ezekiel 37:1-3, we see this famous passage imaging forth the deadness of Israel in their sins: The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. This was us. We were dead bones, dry, having no life. And when we see ourselves as such dry bones, we too should be asking, "Can these bones live?" No, not apart from a supernatural resurrection. Ezekiel 37:10-12 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. God is talking to physical Israel through the prophet Ezekiel; they say their bones are dried up and their hope is gone. They weren't saying they were physically dead, they were separated from God, and they were out of the land. God said He was going to open their graves; these weren't physical graves, because they weren't physically dead. This is a spiritual resurrection. So the unsaved are compared to dead men or even to dry bones in their entire helplessness. In this they are all alike. Believers please understand this: As far as salvation is concerned we brought nothing to the table and sinners will bring nothing either. We didn't even bring ourselves—we were dead. If we are saved today, it is all of God, who overcame our deadness through the power of resurrection. "...In your trespasses and sins..."—It is talking about the sphere in which they lived and the way we lived. The opposite of being in Christ is being in trespasses and sins. The word "trespasses” which means: "to slip or fall or stumble, or go the wrong direction, to step over the line." The word "sins" is. It's a hunter's word, it means: "to miss the target, to miss the mark. A man shoots his arrow and misses the target." God uses two words to describe fallen man, and both of them are in the plural to show the totality of sinfulness that is the result of deadness. No one has to go life spiritually dead and one day receives the consequent eternal death. We do not have to live separated from God because of our Lord and Savior redemptive work at Calvary. Everyone has free will – the freedom to choose eternal life in Jesus Christ. To reject eternal life, which means to believe in Jesus Christ, a person willfully chooses to experience an eternal death – an eternal separation from God. We should appreciate what has happened to us by looking back to what we were, and really beginning to understand what God has provided for us in Christ. The opening words of chapter 2 in Ephesians tell us that we once were dead in trespasses and sins; we once walked according to the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the god of darkness; and we behaved according to the lusts of our flesh. We did what we thought was right, but found it was constantly getting us into difficulty and destroying us. We were victimized by the desires of the flesh and were as Paul says, "children of wrath," i.e., suffering the degeneration of humanity, "like the rest of mankind." Those of us who have believed in Jesus Christ have been made alive together with him. What a fantastic statement that is! A resurrection has occurred; we have become new creatures, a new creation, different than anything we ever were before. And we've been given a new power. We've been raised up with him.
We have all heard people use the expression —“now that’s living!” It’s usually applied when we see people enjoying an experience, or a lifestyle that is considered desirable and pleasant. In most cases this determination is based on physical things. Does the experience involve enjoyable activities? Have those to whom it is applied attained a certain income level or social status. The inference is that those outside of this condition (whether they realize it or not) are not really living, because they don’t have what these people have attained. In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus he is not concerned with cruises, retirement communities, or other material conditions to which our world might aspire. Nonetheless, he does promote and advocate a condition in which those who attain it may recognize that the life they lived in the past (in many respects) was not really living. Paul tells these Christians, “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) Is Paul speaking to those who had been raised from the dead by some miracle performed by the Lord or His apostles? Not necessarily. He describes a condition in which “we all once conducted ourselves” (Eph. 2:3a). Certainly not everyone in the church in Ephesus, nor Paul himself, had physically died and been resurrected. Paul twice describes this being “dead in trespasses” (Eph. 2:1b, 5a). It was a condition “according to the course of this world” (Eph. 2:2a), conduct in accordance with “the lusts of the flesh” by which they sought to fulfill the “desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Eph. 2:3). The mind and flesh of a dead corpse have no desires they seek to fulfill. Paul is not talking about physical death.
We note, however, that Paul describes a condition that most in the world would think of as really living! Don’t we all want to do whatever our flesh desires? Don’t all of us want to have whatever makes our heart and mind feel fulfilled? Wouldn’t most look at such a condition and exclaim—“now that’s living”? Paul, however, asserts the extraordinary claim that those who pursued such a course were in fact dead! Now Paul was not a mad man, as Festus would claim in (Acts 26:24-25). Paul was addressing a spiritual condition. In sin they had not followed God’s will—they lived as “sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2c). This course fulfilled the will of Satan, “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2b). All who sin submit their will to the spirit and character of the devil. This makes us “by nature, children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3b). So how can a dead man live? When we use the expression, “now that’s living!” we are not saying that all others do not really exist. We are elevating a condition (usually on the basis of very superficial things) and declaring it to be superior. Paul does something much like this, but not as a result of his own superficial judgments. The Christians in Ephesus had changed from dead men (who thought they were alive) to living souls (who could now know they were truly alive). Before the climax of verse five, Paul tells us something about God. He is the subject of the verb “He made us alive” (Eph. 2:5b), but who is He? He is one who “is rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4b). We were dead. We deserved punishment. So, how can a dead man live?—“Because of His great love with which He loved us” (Eph. 2:4c).
In Paul’s words to the Ephesians, one might struggle to fully grasp this. He has told them that God viewed them (while living in the flesh) as spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1, 5). He has told them that in such a state God was angry with them, accounting them as “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). Can an angry God be said to be one who “is love”? Absolutely! Our world has skewed its concept of love to imagine that love means that the one who loves another is dispassionate with regard to the behavior of the object of his or her love. The loving father is right to be moved to anger when someone acts to harm his child. The loving mother feels outrage when her son or daughter is hurt. What should they feel when that child or daughter acts to harm themselves? Do parents have no right to feel anger when the guidance they have offered for the good of their children is rejected? The anger of God towards our sin is in no way incompatible with the beautiful definition of His character that “God is love.” The Christian is “made alive” (Eph. 2:1). It is a mistake to see this as only a future condition. Paul told the Ephesians God, “made” (past tense) “us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5b). He has “raised” (past tense) “us up together” and even “made” (past tense) “us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). This is not just talking about what will happen in the age to come. The next verse addresses that. He did these things, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). What He has already done will demonstrate in the ages to come His loving gracious nature. Now the Christian enjoys a renewed fellowship with God. When did this begin? Paul told the Christians in Rome that in baptism the one who turns to Christ is “buried with Him through baptism” so that just as Jesus was “raised from the dead” we as saints might “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). In baptism one is buried with Christ. In baptism then, is when one is “raised up together with Him” (Eph. 2:6). This is not water baptism.
Paul twice asserts, “by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:5b, 8a). The second time he makes this assertion he adds “through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8b-9). How has God saved by grace? Paul told the Romans that the gospel message is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). His assertion to the Ephesians “by grace you have been saved” cannot mean by grace alone! How then could the gospel be “the power of God unto salvation”? To the Ephesians he asserts it is “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8b). Does that mean by faith alone? We must note that Paul says this change from death to life was “not of yourselves” (Eph. 2:8c) even clarifying “not of works” (Eph. 2:9a). What works has Paul mentioned in our text prior to this? He has mentioned “trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), walking “according to the course of the world” (Eph. 2:2), and conduct governed by “the lusts of the flesh” (Eph. 2:3). Did any of these works save us? No, when we did these things, we may have thought we were alive but we were really dead. The love that God has shown in Christ offered life in spite of these works—this was God’s grace—this was “His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7b).Are sinful works Paul’s only focus? He told Titus “the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:4-5a). No good works moved God to send Jesus to die. One cannot do enough good deeds to forgive a single sin, but does this mean that man does nothing to accept God’s grace? Paul told the Ephesians they were saved “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8b), but he told Titus he saved us “through the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5b)—a reference to baptism (Not Water Baptism). The mercy of a loving God in Christ Jesus has called us to “obey the gospel” (2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17).
Souls “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) have nothing of which they can boast (Eph. 2:9b). But in accepting the grace of God, those saved in Christ become “His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10a). The lifeless creature owes everything to its creator. The formerly dead child of God is one “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10b). To imagine that being saved by grace means we have no duty to obey denies the very purpose for which a Christian is saved in the first place. We were “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” To live in sin is to practice what killed us in the first place. Only in faithful obedience can it be truly said of us, “now that’s living.”