“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”Ephesians 2:1-3
This is where we left off last time. Without Christ, we are spiritually dead, slaves to sin, and destined for eternal death in Hell. Hopeless.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)… that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”Ephesians 2:4-5; 7-9
Mercy, love, grace. We’ve talked a lot about the love of God, but what are mercy and grace? They are very similar, but here they are in basic terms:
Mercy– when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve
Grace– when God does give us what we don’t deserve
God is merciful in that He doesn’t immediately and forever send us to Hell when we enter the world. He shows His love by providing a way to make us alive through the substitution of Christ. He demonstrates His grace toward us when He convicts us of sin and draws us into salvation. In other words, we can’t even begin to be holy until we experience the specific grace of God through salvation. But then we begin to strive toward holiness.
Now that we have begun, how do we go on? The same way we started: through the substitution of Christ. God has placed us on the narrow path, yet we still sin. Are we incapable of walking “worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10)?
In ourselves, we are incapable of doing anything but sin. We didn’t choose God of our own freewill. He chose us before the foundation of the world to be called and redeemed by Christ and the Spirit. Our only contribution was the sin that made redemption necessary. It follows, then, that we can’t continue in salvation of our own freewill, either. It is only by the continued working of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are able to pursue holiness. That is, Christ-likeness.
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”Romans 8:29-30
He foreknew us. He predestined us. He called us. He justified us.
He enables, encourages, and enforces our pursuit of holiness. If we grow in holiness, it is God’s doing. We surrender to Him and are changed. He gives is a new heart; one with a desire to love and obey Him.
Our job in the pursuit of holiness? Pursue a knowledge and love for Christ, because if you are pursuing Christ, He has already pursued you. He will provide the daily grace we need to fight sin in our lives and obey Him.