"You were Dead….But God"

Hopelessness runs rampant in our world today. This is not a new thing though. Hopeless people have lived on this earth since the beginning. Hope begins though with two little but emphatic words: But God.

The apostle Paul is speaking to believers of their former state outside of the grace of God in Ephesians 2:1-3.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.”

Outside of Christ you are:

1. Dead in your trespasses and sins
2. Walking according to the ways of this world, according to satan and his demons.
3. Living among the disobedient in your fleshly desires
4. Carrying out the inclination of your flesh and thoughts
5. By nature, Children of wrath.

You live in a hopeless state. You are dead and you live according to ways of this world, according to the rule of a demonic power and corruption. You cannot make yourself alive. This is just as true for the man or woman who goes to church every time the door is open and does not see their need for Christ, as it is for a murdering serial rapist.

Not only are you an evil person, corrupt in all your way living among an evil and corrupt world, you are children of wrath. You were born this way, separated from God by your sin, not able to do any good. You are corrupt outside of Christ. The Bible likens your good works outside of Him to filthy rags, or better translated menstrual rags (Isaiah 64:6). Your good works are so disgusting to God because you are trying to as a dead man or woman bring life to yourself. A dead person is totally dead, unable to do anything.

Do you see your state of being? You are dead. You are corrupt. You are hopeless.

Thank goodness this is not the end of the story. Hope has come. Life has come. You are holy in Him.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Hope. Purpose. Life. It is right here. It is right here and only here. BUT GOD.

God sees our corruptness, wickedness, and perversion. The disney slogan to trust your heart is bogus because as Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is wicked “above all else.” You can’t trust your own intuitions. You can’t trust what your heart says is truth. The only truth comes from God.

God saved us. It doesn’t say “but human.” It doesn’t say “but good works.” It doesn’t say “but my own way” or but anything else. It says clearly BUT GOD. He has done the work. Yes that’s right. It has already been done.

What has He done and why?

1. He has made us alive with the Messiah because of His great love and His richness of mercy (vs. 4).
2. He has raised us up and seated us in the heavens so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus (vs. 6-7).

Do you get it? God did all this, not you. God brings life, not you. You are dead and you will stay dead unless you recognize your hopelessness without Him and repent of your sins and turn to Him for the work that has already been done in Christ Jesus on the cross.

This little phrase sticks out to me: even though you were dead in your trespasses. God recognized our dead state. He had no reason to save us. He could have left us and been justified in doing it because He is infinitely holy and we are infinitely wicked. God did all this despite us being dead.

You think you have something to offer God? You are dead. Dead people can offer nothing. You have no use of your limbs. You have no use of your organs. You will not live until you recognize that you are dead.

And this is amazing! Because when you recognize that you are dead, you come into full recognition of His grace and that you can offer God nothing. And when His grace makes you alive, you live for the first time. You awaken a dead man and that dead man is alive and moving and breathing. This is grace!

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

And you were dead….BUT GOD.

Blessings,
Joseph

Freedom to Stand Firm: Passive vs Active Christianity

I love football. I’ve grown up watching it and played it a little bit as well. Why do we love football? The collisions. We want to see who will plow over the other guy, or if the other guy will stand their ground.

That impasse when the player breaks free and there is only one man to beat. We love that in all sports. Will the last player be able to tackle, block, or make the play? They are being asked essentially to stand firm and to stop that player from scoring. I would like to challenge us as Christians to stand firm with the authority and freedom that we have received in Christ Jesus.

After a tough week about a week ago, I was really overwhelmed. I had fallen to temptations and I was very frustrated. I don’t remember exactly what brought me to Galatians 5, but this verse really encouraged me. I hope it will encourage you.

Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1)

There are five words that I want us to look at: Christ, liberated, free, firm, submit.

First off we look at Christ. Where does our freedom come from or better yet from who? Christ. He has liberated us. Who is us? Christians. Why has he liberated us? To be free.

Dictionary.com defines liberated as “to set free, as from imprisonment or bondage.”

What were we set free from? Sin. How did Christ set us free from the bondage or imprisonment of sin? He lived the perfect life, fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, died on the cross, took the sins of the whole world upon Him and rose again from the grave three days later to proclaim the defeat of sin and to proclaim the reign of His Kingdom.

So to back up, Christ has liberated us (freed us from the bondage of sin and death). He has liberated us to be free. That means to continue in freedom. “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance”  (John 10:10). The only abundant life out there comes from a life freed from the grasps of sin and death. True freedom is what Christ has come to offer.

This next section really got me. Stand firm. What does this mean? Standing is a pretty passive action. You don’t use a lot of energy to stand. Why does Paul use the wording firm? Its the difference between an active and passive gospel.

Are we surprised when the fiery schemes of the devil overcome us when we are not in God’s word or in prayer or in community? We shouldn’t be. We are setting ourselves up for a fail. We are living a passive gospel.

Standing firm has a different connotation. Grit your teeth. Don’t back down. Actively pursue Christ daily. Because if you’re not, you are by omission pursuing the flesh, and setting yourself up for a fail.

Why can we stand firm? Christ has liberated you to be free. It isn’t you that is fighting to be free anymore, it is Christ fighting through you and with you and in you. It His power at work. It His words that are slashing through the lies of the devil. You cannot stand on your own.

Lastly we see the word submit. The definition of submit is “to give over or yield to the power or authority of another” (dictionary.com). Don’t you have to possess the power or authority to give it over?

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus was given all authority by His Father in Heaven. He possessed it. He claimed it. In light of that He gives that same authority to the disciples to go live lives empowered by this truth and authority.

In the same way, we have been given the authority through the freedom that Christ has laid upon us to not submit again to a yoke of slavery. We can say no. We can overcome through Christ’s power. We just have to realize that. We are no longer slaves. We are no longer in bondage.

Application
1. Stop thinking in a “slave” mindset

The truth, plain and simple is that you are free. You are free because Christ has made you free. This does not mean everyone is free. Those that don’t know Christ are still enslaved. But those that do know Christ are free. 
2. Actively pursue Christ

The only way to stand firm is by pursuing Christ and His plan and His love. You are constantly pursuing something. (Check out more about this on my blog post: http://aholycalling3.blogspot.com/2013/11/breaking-our-bad-who-are-you-slave-to.html)

3. Don’t Submit to Sin, Stand Firm

By the authority of Jesus Christ, you have been given the power and authority to overcome sin and to say no in the heat of temptations. You have the choice to submit to sin or flee. Sin no longer controls you or enslaves you. This doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It means you strive with all your being to be more like Christ and for your mind to be renewed and transformed to look more like His mind, and His heart. 
4. Take This One Day at a time

You’re goal each day is to pursue Christ, make His name known, partake in His love, and stand firm against sin. Don’t count your days. Each day is a new battle. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Fight with the power and authority you have been given and don’t submit. Christ is fighting alongside you and in each and every one of your battles. 
I hope this has encouraged you because this truth is from God’s word. I pray that you will put these principles of God’s truth to work in your lives and that you may seek Him daily, standing firm in every circumstance.
Picture taken from: photocommando.blogspot.com
Blessings,
Joseph