Summary: Discussion of what it means to be made Holy and Blameless by Christ
This is the second in a series looking at the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Christians at Ephesus. Last time we looked generally at the Spiritual blessings that Christ has won for us. We saw how these blessings are not material blessings, not blessings of worldly goods or of good health or a smooth problem-free life. God does not promise that all Christians will be successful in the eyes of the world, that we will all have good jobs and nice houses, but he give us blessings that are far more precious than that, they are eternal blessings in the heavenly places that will be our source of everlasting joy. We also saw that they are for all believers, but only for believers - unbelievers have no right or share in them.
Today we are going to start looking at these blessings in more detail.
The first two are described in verse 4.:-
’According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love’
In other words God has already decided the end-fate of his people, he had decided that before he even made the earth. The idea of sending Jesus into the world to die for us was not a crisis decision of God’s in response to an unexpected development in the fall of man. He did not see us go wrong and then look for some way of rescuing us. But, before Adam and Eve had ever sinned, or, in fact before they were ever created, he had already decided his solution for the problem of the sinfulness of their descendants (that is us), which was the sacrifice of Christ. Not only had he chosen how he would save fallen humanity he had decided what would be the destiny of his people. This is the chosen end fate of Christ’s people ’that we should be holy and without blame before him’.
Let’s first look at what it means to be made holy by God. Holy is a word that sometimes gets a bit of a bad press. Holiness has something of a bad image in the modern world.
We talk of people being ’holier than thou’, Christians are sometimes derogatively referred to as ’Holy Joes’. People who claim to be holy are often seen as having a sort of smugness, of being sure of their own righteousness and goodness, and to look down on others. Sometimes we might want to shy away from thinking about it because of these connotations. So often we are comfortable talking about God being holy, but are uncomfortable with describing ourselves in that way. But these verses from Ephesians show us that holiness is a vital part of God’s plans for us. But throughout Scripture we are also constantly encouraged to humility and to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. So how can we consistently think of ourselves as holy, yet remain in humility? The solution lies in the definition of holy.
Holy is a translation of the Greek word hagios. It has a number of meanings, but the one that is probably in mind here carries the sense of being specially set apart for God to be his and nobody else’s. To belong to him in a close relationship. To a holy person God is not distant, not a stranger, but an ever present Lord and friend. A holy persons lives at all times in the very presence of God, in constant communication with him, even in the midst of the mundane things of life.
But as well as meaning set apart to belong to God, it also includes purity in all aspects of life, in what we do, what we say and what we think. A holy life is one in which everything belongs to Christ, in which everything that is thought, said or done is submitted to him and recognises his authority. A life that is not just forgiven for past sins, but that is set free from the addiction to sin that we were all born with.
But all this sounds like arrogance. Surely anyone who claims to be holy is claiming to be superior to and more righteous than everyone else. How could anyone of us get to be that good? Surely if holiness is God’s will for us, we could never achieve it, no matter how hard we try!
But that is not what the Bible says. The Bible never says that we can make ourselves holy by keeping a set of laws or by achieving high ethical standards. But we have just read that it is God’s purpose for our lives for us to by holy. Let us look at it again. We have already said it. Holiness is a blessing given to us by God.. Christ died to make us holy. Throughout Scripture there is the repeated command "Be ye holy, as I the LORD your God am holy". Hebrews 12:14 goes on to say:-