Summary: The focus is once again all on God. Heart change can only come from the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. One of the images in the Bible to describe this change is the image of re-birth – the old dies and something completely new is born in its pla
Scripture: Ephesians 2: 1-10
1 You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
We are still in the Lenten Season. Every year we remind ourselves again of the journey Jesus took in order to prove to us today, the reality of God’s Love for us. That journey was a journey of arrest, trial, mockery, shame, torture and eventually death upon a cross.
And for what purpose…? So that we might know the amazing Love and Grace of God.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound!
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind but now I see.
These powerful words are known throughout the Christian world. Wherever these words are sung, or the tuned played to this old hymn, everyone sings because everyone knows this song. It is the most sung Christian hymn in the world.
We sing the words and hear the tune, but do we ever stop to think about the meaning? What is the idea behind this amazing grace that we sing about?
Our scripture this morning is sometimes called the ‘Magna Charta of God’s grace, Ephesians 2: 1-10. This scripture, in ten small verses reminds us the great work that God and Jesus have done in the lives of those who believe. I can’t speak for you…but for me, it’s amazing the work He has done in my life…and I know He’s not done yet! Just like Jesus, I have my own journey to walk, too.
Lent, for each of us, should be a yearly journey from death to life. It challenges us to take the deepest possible look at our lives…a look so deep that only God can reveal what we might see. It is a time of confirming our own progress in becoming more Christ-like.
I’m sure you are aware of the popular advertising tactic of “before” and “after” pictures? They are probably most common for diet products, but I’ve also seen them for hair and make-overs. The “before” picture is almost always the least flattering picture possible – no doubt altered at least a little in photoshop to make it look even worse. And the “after” picture is the exact opposite – the most flattering possible. The goal, of course, is to get you to spend your money on the subtle assumption that you too can purchase the improvement that you see comparing the two pictures.
Well our scripture today from Ephesians, also gives us two pictures…one ‘before’ Christ (vss 1-3) and one ‘after’ Christ (vss 4-7). But then Paul brings it all together in verses 8 through 10 and tells us why we need to see these comparisons.
So, let’s begin by looking at the before picture.
The “before” picture is not a very flattering one. In fact, it is hard to imagine it being much worse! The first word Paul uses is “dead” – it doesn’t get much worse than that! Apart from Christ, in our pre-conversion state, we are spiritually dead. That is the result of sin – sin kills. It destroys. It annihilates.
Charles Swindoll spoke of sin, and what it does…
Because of sin, man has taken…
The deity out of religion,
The supernatural out of Christianity,
The authority from the Bible,
God out of education,
Morality and virtue out of literature,
Beauty and truth out of art,
Ethics out of business,
Fidelity out of marriage.
Yes, sin kills, destroys and it annihilates.
The second part of the picture is described as in slavery – though that word doesn’t appear, that is certainly the sense of how we are described in “following the world” (vs. 2), the spirit “at work in those who are disobedient” (vs. 2), and in our slavery to our own “cravings” (vs. 3). The picture being painted here is of us subject to the control of these three things, of us enslaved to them.