We were dead. What a statement to make about anyone! But before Jesus entered our lives, we were dead. Notice what Paul wrote about this:
“And although you were dead in your offenses and sins, in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the domain of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1-3 NET)
Without Jesus, people are going the wrong way. Without Jesus we can’t end up having eternity with God. We can’t get there if we are going the wrong way.
That is what we were doing when we lived “according to this world’s path”. We were going down a dead-end street. And we were dead because of our sins. We even thought we were having fun, indulging our every desire. But instead of leading us towards Jesus and eternal life we were leading ourselves further away from it.
In verse 4 Paul introduced a change with a wonderful three-letter word: “But”. We are so thankful that there is a “but” there. This indicates that something happened to make a change, to turn us around to go the other direction. This wasn’t us, it was God.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!— and he raised us up together with him and seated us together with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we can do them.” (Ephesians 2:4-10)
Don’t you wish you could say that we came to our senses and turned around, figuring out that we were going nowhere and going there fast? But it wasn’t us figuring it out, it was God in his mercy and love who did something for us – he sent Jesus. In Jesus dying for our sins and being raised back to life, we can be forgiven and made alive when we are obedient. We are then raised with him and seated with him in the heavenly realms – we are now going the right direction! We have hope. We have a secure eternal future.
But notice we did not do this ourselves. It is God’s grace which saves us, working through our faith. He did not owe this to us. We did not do it ourselves, but it is the gift of God. God paid the price so that our sins can be removed and we can have a relationship with him.
Although what we do doesn’t save us, once we are united with Jesus there are things we need to be doing. We have been created in Christ, we are Christians, to do good wherever we find it. This is what God wants of us.
The next time we start feeling confident about all we have done, realise that it was God who made a way that we can be saved. Because of God sending Jesus, we are no longer dead but are now alive in Christ.
That is something worth being thankful for each day!
Readings for next week: Ephesians 2-6