From Death to Life
Father, I thank You for leading me by Your Word. May all I do today be pleasing to You.
Read Ephesians 2:1-10
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me” (John Newton, 1725-1807). It is truly amazing!
Paul sees a yawning gulf between being spiritually dead (1) and alive in Christ (5). The former are rarely aware of their condition; they conform to the prevailing thought patterns and actions of the world. Often they think they have kicked over the constraints of rules and are enjoying freedom, but Paul is sure they are not free. He describes them as controlled by their cravings and in bondage to Satan, pointing out that we all once lived in this state (2,3). By contrast, those who are alive in Christ are set free from these patterns of conformity and self-delusion. They have a different outlook, not focused on themselves but on God, open to the good things God wants from us.
Paul is eager to show that the move from one state to another is not one we can make by ourselves. We can’t work for it, earn it, or take any credit for it. It’s a gift (8), an outworking of God’s love and mercy (4). It is a kind of resurrection (6), available only through the grace of God (5,7,8). The only part we play is to admit our own failings and receive it in faith.
Grace is a uniquely Christian concept. Other religions believe in a merciful God who is sometimes prepared to withhold his anger against wrongdoing; but grace goes deeper. It means that God not only holds back the punishment we deserve, he also pours on us the love and kindness that we do not deserve. Even when we are living for ourselves, ignoring God, pursuing self-interest, God still reaches out and draws us into life (See Ezek. 18:31,32; Rom. 5:6-8). Paul knew first-hand what God’s rich mercy and grace meant for him. May you experience today the freedom this brings you.
Are you still trying to earn God’s favor? How might it change your relationship with God if you could accept more of his amazing grace?
Heavenly Father, I rejoice that You love me, not because You have to, but because You want to. I praise You for Your amazing grace!
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.