FROM ADDICTION TO PURPOSE
Lord, thank You for changing my nature.
Read EPHESIANS 2:1–10
Made Alive in Christ
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
a. Ephesians 2:3 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me’ (Attributed to Patrick, 5th century).
First-century readers easily envisaged a demonic ruler ‘of the air’ (2). We may choose not to speak that way today of forces driving people to destructive behavior, but they are no less real.
Christians who have been addicted to drugs, alcohol, or gambling understand the power of forces beyond their control. Others like me, who became a Christian as a child, may feel that our journey hasn’t been as dramatic as today’s picture of people trapped in ‘the cravings of our flesh’ (3), whom God has made ‘alive with Christ’ (5). We must take care. We belong to Christ, but evil forces can still trap us, taking over parts of our lives. Otherwise we would be sinless! We can be addicted to self-image, lifestyle, financial security, or high achievement. We can be trapped and not know it.
Before we can overcome the darkness, we must recognize and name it. Like all addicts, we cannot make the journey alone. It takes the power of God to break the deadly patterns of the old life and sustain the new. The writer calls this ‘grace’, not our own doing but God’s free gift. God pours out upon us the ‘riches of his grace’ (7). He also gives us a purpose for living. We are the very workmanship of God, created to ‘do good works’ (10). The cosmic context of chapter one still rings in Paul’s mind, running through his pen and into these verses. We are already in the ‘heavenly realms’ with Jesus (6), but physically we must live temporarily on this earth. Here, there are good works to be done. God has prepared them for us before time began. The secret to avoiding evil is to fill our lives with doing good. That is where spiritual health lies.
O God, wrong choices lie ahead of me daily. Help me to see the good things You place in my path so that, in doing them, I avoid wrong turnings.
Lord, we fully understand that there is nothing we could do to earn our salvation and that Your grace is a free gift.