Summary: To get the reading into stopping people from bringing up their past.
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW
Down through the years we’ve discovered that many people try to keep you the way that you were. They would say that “A leopard cannot change it spots” and “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” And they believe that there is a slight chance for us changing. It reminds me a of my favorite comic strip, Tumble Weeds. There is a little character in the strip by the name of Limpin’ Lizard who is not known for his intellect. In one instance Limpin’ Lizard was in a communications workshop and the facilitator was explaining the Tom-Tom as the new way to communicate. At the end of the lesson he asked were there any questions and Limpin’ Lizard raised his hand and asked. Why did they decide to call it a Tom-Tom? Why didn’t they call it a George-George or a Ralph-Ralph? Limpin’ Lizard, I tell you was not known for his intellect and they felt that he would never change because he was what he was. In another comic episode, Limpin’ Lizard spotted a young lady that he took a fancy to ( to the young people that means that he liked her). So old Limp went to her house, knocked on the door and said Bon Suey Madamazelly, that’s French for “howdy Mam.” And he must’ve impressed the young lady so she responds “O’ Limpin’ Lizard, how suave, have you ever been abroad?” now this is when Limpin Lizard murdered the moment he said, “Shucks no, once a fella always a fella.” I tell you they had reason to believe that Limpin’ Lizard would never change.
But that is not true with those of us who were once sinners. The bible lets us know that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In other word Christ took our worst case scenario to the cross with Him, then presented us before the Father as faultless.
In the first ten verses of Ephesians 2, Paul has discussed the salvation of sinners in general, but now he turns to the work of Christ for Gentiles in particular. Most of the converts in the Ephesians church were Gentiles, and they knew that much of God’s program in the Old Testament involved the Jews. For centuries, the “circumcision” (Jews) had looked down on the “un circumcision” (Gentiles) with an attitude that God had never intended them to display. The fact that a Jew had received the physical mark of the covenant was no proof he was a man of faith. Only those who trusted Christ have received a spiritual circumcision made without hands as found in Colossians 2:11 “In whom you are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands.”
So, let’s peek into our past that our now can be appreciated.
First of all Paul tells us to . . .
1. NOT FORGET THAT WE WERE ONCE THE OUTSIDERS. (v.11)
“Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “Uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.”
-N. L. T.-
The King James’ text says, Wherefore remember. The design of this evidently is to excite a sense of gratitude in the bosoms of the Ephesians for that mercy which had called them from the errors and sins of their former lives to the privileges as Christians. It is a good thing for Christians to "remember" what they were. No faculty of the mind can be better employed to produce humility, repentance, gratitude, and love, than the memory. If we would think back to the way we were, it would cause us to thank the Lord for saving us. It is well to recall the recollection of our former sins; to dwell upon our hardness of heart, our alienation from God, and our unbelief. But most importantly we should remember how sinful we really were, remember it just long enough to feel it in our hearts. Then we can truly appreciate what the Lord has done in our lives.
As the text reveals to us that the Circumcised (Jews) called them uncircumcised heathens and this most likely hurt them. But if they would think about it, they were right, the reason is because they were not connected to Christ and them at that time were not part of the covenant promise.
Without Christ. The Ephesians worshiped the goddess, Diana, and, before the coming of the Gospel, knew nothing about Christ. Those who claim that pagan religions are just as acceptable to God as the Christian faith will have a problem here, for Paul cites the Ephesians’ Christless state as a definite tragedy. But then, keep in mind that every unsaved person, Jew or Gentile, is “outside Christ” and that means condemnation.