Ephesians 2:1-9 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in 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 coming ages 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 a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Fallen sycamore leaf on a wet, algae-covered rock. Caesar Creek Gorge State Nature Preserve, Oregonia, Ohio.
From the world’s perspective people are all basically good, it is just that sometimes we make mistakes, or the circumstances of our lives or upbringing cause us to do bad things. This, “basic goodness of humanity” philosophy is quite pervasive in the world today, even among some Christians. This philosophy is deceitful. It is like looking at this fallen sycamore leaf, seeing the green that remains, and presuming that the “greenness” is a sign the leaf is still alive.
In fact, as we read in today’s passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we are all “dead in” our “trespasses and sins.” We are not just a little bad; we are “sons of disobedience” who are “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air,” Satan, that is. We need to realize this is not just a case of being sick and needing a little medicine to make us better, just like this sycamore leaf, we are dead!
Thankfully, the story does not end here for those who are in Christ. Thankfully, we have a merciful and loving God who, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Make no mistake, though, without Christ’s atoning sacrifice, without his blood shed on the cross to pay the price for our sins, we would remain “children of wrath,” fully deserving of the eternal punishment God would mete out for all of our trespasses.
And, lest we think we can make it right on our own, through good works, or trying a little harder, or by being a little nicer person, we need to remember what Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts
© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.
Human beings are good, just look at Genesis 1:31. Human beings chose evil, but that does not make them intrinsically evil. We are still good enough to be loved and forgiven by God!
It is true that we are deserving of eternal damnation, and that our salvation is by grace alone. However, I think some are tempted to take the fact that we are saved by grace and twist it into thinking that works don’t matter. They certainly do, just look at James 2:14-26.
Yes, I agree, we were created good. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31) But,we have been corrupted by the fall, and in our fallen state our hearts are inclined to evil. Reading Romans 3:12 and 23, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” and “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
And, yes, though we are saved by faith, through grace alone, it is not as if we have a “get out of jail free card” that allows us to sit back, do nothing, and go on sinning as if we have not been saved. From Romans 3:31, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” Faith without works is most certainly dead (James 2:17,26), but the good works are the result of faith through grace, not the other way around.