We Were Dead in Our Trespasses

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.

2014-01-03 - We Were Dead in Our Trespasses (IMG_5099)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.

My Grace Is Sufficient

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2013-12-29 - My Grace Is Sufficient (IMG_8633)A remote bluff with a scenic view a quarter of a mile off of Rough Trail.  Red River Gorge, Slade, Kentucky.

I always carry a well-stocked first aid kit along with quite a bit of survival gear when we hike.  Some would probably accuse me of being a little overstocked.  I suppose I could trim down what I carry a bit, but leading groups of people on hikes, sometimes in fairly remote places, I would rather err on the side of caution and be ready to handle any emergency that might arise.

There are a number of well known “pastors” out there today who preach a terrible distortion of the Christian message, known as the prosperity gospel.  Promises of health, wealth, and happiness abound in their teachings.  Following Christ does not mean we will be successful in everything that we do, not even in our ministry efforts, nor does it mean we will be richly rewarded in the form or earthly treasures.  Neither does being a follower of Christ mean that we will be free from sickness or injury.

Paul does not tell us specifically what his “thorn…in the flesh” is in today’s passage.  We do not know whether this weakness of Paul’s was an illness, injury, or some mental or spiritual challenge he was facing.  Regardless of the particular affliction, Paul was obviously bringing it to the Lord in prayer, but apparently to no avail.  God’s answer to Paul was simply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

How many of us can actually say that we would be “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities?”  I can only pray that someday I might be blessed with this kind of faith.  I can only pray that someday “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  May we all be blessed to realize, whatever afflictions and weaknesses we experience in life, that God’s grace, won through the blood of Christ, is the only thing we really need.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.