1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”
Paul filled this part of his letter to the Ephesian believers with penetrating doctrines about God’s character, mercy, love, and power. We see Christ revealed here, resurrected, and seated in the heavenly realms, royal and authoritative (verse 6).
Doctrines about salvation speak to questions like, “Why would God send Jesus to die for ME?” and “I’ve done a lot of good things. Won’t that be enough?” Though the passage definitely elevates God’s character, this distinct undercurrent hums this: “Remember who you are.”
Paul described the condition of every person with stark clarity. There are two relevant conditions a person can exist in: apart from Christ and in Christ.
Paul describes those apart from Christ as dead in sin, following the ways of the world and ruler of the air (Satan), disobedient, gratifying the cravings of the sinful nature, inescapably objects of wrath, accountable for sins and without protection from evil or the influence of the evil one. (verses 1-3).
As believers, Paul challenges us to remember ourselves in this state, and to understand fully our utter inability to better this condition under our own power. No matter how young, old, gifted, talented, lucky, wealthy, or privileged, we’re helpless to remove ourselves from the penalty or the power of sin.
For a long time I had a hard time really applying this truth to my life, since I was saved as a child. My memories of my pre-saved life at home and in elementary school don’t seem particularly different. Was I really that sinful? Over time God whispered truth, and began to draw me pictures in creation.
As our family camps and hikes, we see thousands of trees. The shape of the leaf can identify even tiny saplings. Tiny maple trees will never be anything other than a maple tree—the genetic blueprint is the same. Size, depth of root system, and maturity are the only differences. Time acts on what is already there to allow the production of fruit.
When I was a child, before I surrendered by life to Christ, I was completely a slave to sin. Just because someone is young, and sin isn’t yet at the fruit-producing stage, doesn’t make the sin less deadly, or the evil one and his work less sinister.
I was, and would be today except for Christ, marked for death because of inherent and active sin and helpless to do anything about it. Understanding and admitting this has made grace all the more precious.
Remember who you were—and remember who you ARE. Read Ephesians 2:6-10 again. We are God’s creation; His workmanship. Not only did He save us by grace through faith that He gives us the ability to have, but He continues to weave and shape us.
This isn’t mass production or assembly line production designed for efficiency. This is the attention and work of an artisan—the Master Craftsman Himself, focused on you and me.
The word we find translated as “creation” in verse 10 is explained below:
Phonetic Pronunciation: poy'-ay-mah
Definition: (poieo); a product, i.e. fabric (literal or figurative) :- thing that is made, workmanship.
(from www.MyStudyBible.com, a LifeWay resource based on the HCSB)
We get our word “poem” from this root. God does so much more than just open the gate (Jesus) for us to be with Him in heaven, though that would certainly be enough. He pays special attention to the process as we walk together, and He has an outcome in mind. We can yield to His creative hand in our lives with relief and confidence.
Remember who He is, and celebrate. Remember who you were, and who you are in Christ, and praise Him.
- How do you see culture countering the doctrinal messages in this passage?
- How does this passage raise urgency to pray for the lost?
- How can we be watchful for tendencies in ourselves to feel spiritually accomplished in our own power?
- Why do you think we get uncomfortable with stark biblical definitions of lost-ness, like we find in Ephesians 2:1-3?