Over the years, through personal experience and observing the lives of others, I have seen fallen mankind’s absolute need of Christ clearly revealed. There can be no doubt that all of us, as a part of sinful mankind, is absolutely separated from God and unable to think, desire, say or do anything that is pleasing to God or glorifying to His name.
So, as members of fallen mankind, what can we do? How can we find peace and communion with God, when we are unable to do anything to purify ourselves or enter into fellowship with God of our own efforts?
We can do nothing to meet these great needs, “BUT GOD” can meet our every need!
In this lesson, we will be looking at what God’s Word teaches us about our great need of Christ and His wonderful grace. It is this very grace that enables fallen mankind to receive the forgiveness of sins, enter into His presence, please Him, and enjoy eternal communion with Him.
(1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
(2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
(3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
(4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
(5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
(6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
(7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
(8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
All of mankind was conceived in a sinful, spiritually dead condition (Rom 3:23 & Rom 3:9), because of this, man is alienated from our perfectly holy God (Isa 59:2 & Micah 3:4).
Furthermore, due to the effects of sin in his life, mankind is much like a corpse. Just as a corpse can do nothing to regain the life that as once within it, likewise lost mankind can do nothing to restore spiritual life to its spiritually dead condition (Titus 3:4-7). This is why the above verse describes man as being “dead in trespasses and sins”.
If mankind was simply left to himself, he would continue in this sinful isolated state, never coming to an understanding of his own sinfulness, his isolated condition apart from God, nor his desperate need of Christ (John 12:39-40 & Rom 3:10-11).
But thanks to the Lord, He reaches down from heaven, intervenes in the heart of the lost man, and grants him spiritual life (2 Cor 4:6 & Acts 26:18 & Col 2:13). This is what is being referred to by the phrase “And you hath He quickened (given life)”
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
The writer of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul, describes the condition of every saved person prior to Christ’s intervention in their lives. By doing this he is teaching us that all mankind began “in the same boat”, we were ALL sinful, followers of Satan, with no hope of salvation within ourselves. This is the time period he is referring to by the phrase “in the time past”.
Paul describes the lost person’s lifestyle as following the path set by this sinful world and Satan (1 Cor 6:9-11 & Gal 1:4) when he states, “ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air”.
Lost mankind’s submission to the control of Satan and Satan’s activity in their lives is emphasized in Paul’s dual description of Satan: “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”. Folks, Satan is alive and actively intervening in the affairs of all fallen mankind on earth (1 Pet 5:8 & John 8:44). For us to denying his existence or his activity among us is to deny the very teachings of God’s Word, which in effect, makes God a liar (Rom 3:4). This cannot be.
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
None of saved mankind can be prideful, nor take credit for their own salvation (Rom 4:2 & Rom 3:27-28 & 2 Tim 1:9). We are clearly told in this verse that those who are saved through the Lord’s gracious intervention were equally sinful and separated from God as those who are not saved (Eph 5:8 & Titus 3:3-6). Paul clearly points to the lifestyle of the saved prior to their salvation experience when he says, “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past”.
Paul tells us that those who are saved were previously living according to our sinful longings, living to fulfill the evil determinations that come from our fallen nature and corrupt minds…”in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;”
Paul stresses the spiritually dead, sinful, guilty condition of the saved prior to their salvation when he says, “and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
“But God” these are the sweetest words that a lost person can ever hear…
“But God” this is the only hope for all of mankind who are spiritually dead and unable to please the Lord of their own merit.
If lost mankind was left to themselves, they would be condemned by their own actions, under the wrath of God, and without hope of redemption (Jer 13:23 & Rom 8:7-9). But with the gracious intervention of God, they can experience forgiveness, deliverance and fellowship with God. Our wonderful God is overflowing in mercy and incredible love for His people. Paul says it this way, “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith he loved us,”
His love is so great and His mercy flows so freely that even the chief of sinners could find forgiveness through His gracious intervention in their lives.
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Paul continues to address the saved and the wondrous change wrought in their lives through God’s grace. Even when the saved person was spiritually dead, the Lord saw fit to graciously grant him spiritual life (John 14:6 & 1 John 5:11). This is the “quickening” being talked about in the phrase “hath quickened us”.
The giving of spiritual life was given to us as a joint work of both God the Father and Christ (John 5:21). Spiritual life was given to us by our gracious Father, based upon the work of Christ on the cross, not our own goodness or works (Rom 5:21 & 1Pet 3:7)…”hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
The joint working of the Father and Christ does not end with the giving of spiritual life. His work continues in the life of the newly saved individual.
Paul talked about this continuing work when he said “hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places”. Based upon Christ’s work, the Father then raises the saved to a new lifestyle in Him (2 Cor 5:17 & Gal 6:15), and promises him an eternity of fellowship in the very presence of Christ (Rom 6:4-5 & John 14:3).
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Why does the Father and Son work together granting spiritual life, a new lifestyle and eternity with Christ to the saved? Is it because our inherent goodness obligates Him to do so? Or, perhaps, it is because, through our good works we have gained these great blessings?
Absolutely not! Paul tells us that “in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his kindness”. It is nothing in us that motivates the Lord to grant to us spiritual life (Isa 40:17 & Psa 62:9). It is all based upon His character and greatness.
Two of the great motivations in the heart of the Father that drives Him to grant spiritual life to us is His love for us and His desire to be glorified (John 3:16, 2 Thess 1:11-12 & Rev 5:9-15). He graces us with spiritual life so that His great gracious kindness will be seen, remembered, and celebrated throughout history. In other words, He did all of this for us so that He might be glorified and honored when we see, and experience His great love and grace in our lives.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Paul now explains how spiritual life is obtained by the lost individual. Since the lost individual lacks inherent goodness, and their good works cannot merit their salvation, how is it acquired? It is entirely based upon the grace of God, as we exercise faith in Christ (Rom 4:16)…”For by grace ye are saved through faith” .
But when we read this it seems to say that we are saved through a work that we do… an exercise of faith. However, Paul makes certain that we do not get confused about this issue. He tells us that the faith we exercise is “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”. Even the very faith we exercise in Christ does not simply come from within us, but it is a gift that comes from the Father (John 6:27-29 & Rom 12:3). Therefore, in a very true sense, our faith is not a work we perform, but it is a work the Father performs in us.
Once again, we can see the wondrous grace of God as He gives to one who is destitute of saving faith, the gift of faith and the ability to exercise that faith. When we come to this knowledge it eliminates any possibility that we might boast about our exercise of faith in Christ.
This is why Paul then clearly states that saving faith in the individual is “not of works, lest any man should boast”
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Since our salvation is a work of God within us, our life is like a poem (“workmanship”) that is brought into existence through the work of Christ and and declares His glory through the good works of the saved (Eph 1:4 & Gal 5:22-26). This is the meaning of Paul’s phrase “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”
Remember that in verse 7, we saw that God was motivated to save His people so that He might be glorified throughout the ages for His great grace and kindness. This same principle can be seen in this verse as well.
Paul tells us that the performance of good works by the saved person “God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Before the salvation of His people, in eternity past, the Lord chose that when He saved an individual, their lifestyle would change to a way of life that would bring honor and glory to His name. This helps us to understand that not only the very act of salvation, but also its effects in the lives of those saved, will bring honor and glory to God alone (Jer 9:23-24).
So what is a lost person to do? How can a lost person receive the forgiveness of sin and be the recipient of God’s wonderful grace?
We have that questioned answered in John 6:27-29…
“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
As the Lord shows you the sin that is in your life, and the of forgiveness and deliverance from that sin, simply believe on Him.
Believe in Christ as the Divine Son of God (1 John 5:7).
Believe in Christ as the One who came to the earth and died on the cross to pay the price for your sins (Phil 2:5-9).
Believe in Christ as the Only Way of salvation (Acts 4:10-12).
Believe in Christ as the new Master of your life (Phil 2:10-11).
This is what the Lord has commanded each of us to do. As the Lord intervenes in our life, showing us our great need and working in our hearts, we are to turn to Him and trust in Him as our Lord and Savior. This is how we respond to the workings of God in our life.
What amazing grace to know that He can graciously intervene in our life and draw us to Himself as we respond in faith to Him (john 6:43-45).
As we come to an understanding of all these things, we can only come to the conclusion that “To God be the glory, great things He hath done”!
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