Sunday, August 17, 2008

His Workmanship: Thoughts from Ephesians 2

Chapter 1 of Ephesians left us marveling at the grace of God, as seen through the sometimes difficult concepts of the Kingdom and the Trinity. As we move on into chapter 2, I'm impressed again by God's grace, as shown to us through the marked difference between life in the flesh and life in the Spirit. Verses 1 through 3 paint a bleak picture of what it looks like to be lost in sin: "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" (verse 2). Verse 1 talks about the death of this supposed "life" in the flesh, and verse 3 reminds us that we ALL came into the world this way because of the sin nature we inherited at the Fall. Note that this is not to say that our hearts are bad. They were merely infected by the choice of humanity to sin. Even so, as I read these first three verses, I find myself weighed down by all that needs to be overcome in my life.

But Paul doesn't leave us in this dark state for long. (And perhaps intentionally, the scribes who canonized the scriptures and marked verses don't even begin a new paragraph before letting Paul begin to speak about the wonders of God's grace!) He begins verse 4 with the two most powerful words in the whole passage: "BUT GOD" (emphasis mine, although I imagine that Paul might have written it in bold also). We were lost in sin, BUT GOD. We followed the prince of the spirit of the air (our Enemy, Satan), BUT GOD. We were dead in the trespasses and sins, BUT GOD..."made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 5). And more than offering us life, verse 6 says that by grace he "raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places!" No more darkness, no more triumph of the Enemy--Christ has made us His co-heirs that we may have victory in this life and even more in the next!

Just today my mom and I had a conversation about the gift of being able to clearly see our inadequacies. Ephesians 2:8-9 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." In light of those verses, how kind of God to remind us in our day-to-day living that we truly are incompetent (as I remarked in my last post) and incapable apart from His equipping us to live in the world. It seems that as I am made continually more aware of my inadequacy before the Father, I am more and more in awe of the "BUT GODs" that unfold in my life every day. And as we live in that continual revelation of His grace, verse 10 says that we begin to realize the good works He has prepared for us to do. We are His workmanship, and He equips us even in our inadequacy!

In the shadows; My spirit weak
Love broke through the darkness and lifted me
And I know you'll never let me go

In the storm in the raging sea
Love conquered the fear and delivered me
And I know you'll never let me go
--Hillsong United

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