We’ve embarked on a study of the book of Ephesians in order to better understand who we are in Christ. This week we’re looking at the first half of Ephesians 2 and will be stepping back a bit to re-examine more deeply some of the truths we learned in week one – Who we were without Christ, and what it means to have been made alive in Christ. Today, we’re going to learn to understand what it means to be alive in Christ – a new and beautiful creation in Jesus – God’s masterpiece!
We’ve already learned how to be saved according to the Bible and we took the time to be sure our identity can be found in Him as His holy people. Then we studied the rest of Ephesians 1 and learned the wonderful truth that we have been chosen, purchased, and adopted into God’s family. We learned this position of privilege – this identity as His own children entitles us to great power and every spiritual blessing!
Now, on to Ephesians 2.
I Was Dead in Sin Apart from Christ
Ephesians 2:1-3 – Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
In the last section, we talked about how we were all born as slaves to sin. It is a powerless thing to be a slave! There is no freedom to do the things we want to do because we are bound to instead do the bidding of our master.
Romans 7 (click to read) talks a lot about the helplessness of wanting to do what is right, but being unable to do it because of another power waging war within us.
It is in that state – the destitution of slavery to sin – that we begin Ephesians 2. Here we find that when we were there, we were as good as dead. Doomed. We were headed for destruction and hellfire! Dead in sin. In that state we were impotent to resist the devil. We found ourselves bound to him.
What a terrible thing it is to follow the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature! Misery, unquenchable appetites for pleasure which only lead to more misery, fear and despair, and deep-rooted knowledge of our own condemnation are constant companions in that agonizing existence. Shame and guilt never leave us.
It is a life of death. This is who we were without Christ. Dead where we stood!
I Am Alive in Christ
Ephesians 2: 4-10 – But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Oh how I love the things that follow the words but God!
We were dead in sin. Hopeless.
But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much that even though we were dead, He gave us life! Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we were given life, even though we had done nothing to deserve it! It was done for the simple reason that He loved us that much!
Remember last week, when we talked about how we have been united to Christ and have thus become heirs along with Him to the blessing and power of God? That’s what we’re talking about here. When we believed in Jesus, and turned from our sin, and accepted His sacrifice as covering for our sins, we became one with Him. Just as the power of God raised Him from the dead, it has also raised us from death to life, and seated us with Him in the heavenly realm. Not because of our own efforts, but because of His grace.
What a miraculous, undeserved gift!
And it is because of this new life that we can move from the condemnation that comes as a result of our slavery to sin and move from Romans 7 to Romans 8
Romans 8:1-2 – So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus! And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death!
I Am a New Creation. God’s Masterpiece!
Ephesians 2:10- For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
One of my favorite truths about our great God is that He does not do things without purpose. He is not a God of chaos or confusion. He is ordered, and intentional, and He works within a great big intricately complicated yet magnificently simple plan. Who we are in Him is part of that plan!
This story He’s writing is a massive and beautiful tapestry which He’s weaving throughout the course of time, and really, we’re not just a part of His masterpiece, we ARE God’s masterpiece! Everything He does in choosing us, and purchasing us, and adopting us, and making us completely new and beautiful is done so that we can fulfill the purpose for which He created us. A purpose He had planned for us from the beginning!
We’ll talk more about our purpose when we get to chapter 3 of Ephesians. For now, I want to spend a little more time looking at what it means that I am a new creation, and revel just a bit in our identity as the beautiful masterpiece of the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies!
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 – This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ.
Friends, we really are completely new in Christ. God’s masterpiece! We are “new people” as this passage says. That means all the former things – all our sins, all our insecurities, all the things that condemned us before have been nailed to the cross along with Christ. They’re gone. They do not define us anymore, and they never will again.
Galatians 4:9 – So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless principles of this world?
Nonetheless, how many of us find ourselves getting caught up in those same things again? How often do we go on living in shame and guilt? Or how many times do we go on sinning in the same ways we did before we were set free from all that nonsense?
It doesn’t have to be this way. The problem really is as simple as this: We are not living in our true identity! We are God’s masterpiece, but we haven’t allowed the truth about who we are in Christ to sink down into our very being and change us.
We’re butterflies who are still crawling around on our bellies as if we’re still the worm, when all we have to do is spread our wings and fly!
Psalms 139 is one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible because it really helps me understand how intentionally we were created by God, and His plan is not for us to live as the worm! Rather, it’s for us to fly as His beautiful masterpiece! So read this section of that Psalm along with me, and believe it. Let’s pray the last few verses aloud together, and then live as He intended – as the new and beautiful masterpiece created by the God of the universe!
Psalms 139:13-14 – You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are Your thoughts about me, oh God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, You are still with me!
If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest of the Identified Series as we work our way through the whole book of Ephesians to discover everything God has to teach us about who we are in Him.