Privileges and Practices for Christians
Read Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
According to today’s verses, what privileges do we have because of God’s grace and kindness towards us?
If you can remember, think back to before you were a believer in Jesus. How would you describe your status or position before God during that time and how did that position change when you became a believer in Christ?
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he emphasized the status of everyone who has placed saving faith in Christ. Unlike Galatians, Paul wasn’t writing to rebuke or correct. Instead, Paul wanted Christians to understand their new standing in Christ and he wanted to help them grow and mature so that they walked out their faith in their daily lives. He wrote Ephesians while he was imprisoned in Rome around 60 A.D.
In chapter 1, Paul started off listing all of the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). He goes on to say that we have been adopted as sons, redeemed through his blood, forgiven of our sins, and lavished with grace (Ephesians 1:4-7). Not only that, but we are His heirs and we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
We are now the adopted sons and daughters of God! That sure sounds like a pretty privileged position to be in, especially when you consider the position we were in before. Paul reminded the Ephesians that everyone was once “dead in the trespasses and sins 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—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” (Ephesians 2:1-3). In other words, before Christ, we were depraved just like everyone else who doesn’t know Christ. We were on a trajectory that was leading us straight to God’s wrath and condemnation. Thankfully, God intervened!
Which brings us to today’s verse. If it weren’t for God, His rich mercy, and His amazing love, we’d still be children of wrath, deserving death. Instead, we have been saved by grace and made alive in Christ. As if that weren’t enough, Christ has seated us with Him at the right hand of God, meaning we get to reign with Him! What an awesome, undeserved position for us to be in!
But understanding our new position in Christ should raise the question, how then should we live? After all, when we come to Christ, we experience a great transformation. Surely as reigning heirs of Christ, we shouldn’t live in the same sinful, disobedient way in which we previously lived. In chapters 4-6, Paul changed course from talking about doctrine to practical life application. He explained how we should “walk” out our new spiritual reality. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1) and, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds” (Ephesians 4:17). In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul urged them to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…”. He described how walking in this kind of love impacts the marriage relationship, the relationship between children and their parents, and the relationship between servants and their masters.
In addition to changing how we “walk,” Paul told us we should change what we “put on.” First, we should take off the old, sinful self, and put on the new righteous and holy self which should completely change the way that we interact with each other and the way we talk.
Paul also advised the Ephesians to put on the whole “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18). This spiritual armor protects us in the spiritual battle we are in. He identified our enemies as something other than “flesh and blood.” We are in a spiritual battle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Friends, in Ephesians, Paul wants to make sure we understand that we aren’t who we were before! Because of our sin, we were once enemies of God. We were separated from Him. But now, in Christ, we are children of God! We are now on His side. So friends, take off the old self and put on the new. You aren’t who you were before! Live like you’ve been changed—because you have.
Lord, I thank You and praise You for Your rich mercy which gave me a new life. What amazing grace. What amazing love. Help me to walk in a manner worthy of the calling You have given me. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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