Ephesians 2:1-10

No Brag. Just Fact.

Ephesians 2:1-10

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. – Ephesians 2:9 NLT

These first ten verses of chapter two of Ephesians are some of the richest, deepest and most profound words found in the entire Bible. In them, we have a succinct summary of the Gospel and its impact on the lives of men. Paul seems to be trying to get the Ephesian believers to understand just how marvelous this gift is that they had received. He has already told them that he prays for them constantly, asking God to give them spiritual wisdom and insight so that they might grow to know God better. He regularly prays that they understand the great power available to them because of Christ’s death and resurrection. Now he wants them to understand the unbelievable, radical nature of their salvation experience.

First, he reminds them of their pre-conversion condition. It is not a pretty picture, but it aptly and honestly describes the state of every human being who has ever lived – until they come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil — the commander of the powers in the unseen world” (Ephesians 2:1-2 NLT). Paul doesn’t mince words, because he wants them to understand just how bad things were before Christ entered their lives. They had been spiritually dead – completely incapable of doing anything good. In fact, they had been under the control of Satan himself, just like every other human being who lives apart from Christ. As a result, they were controlled by their sin natures, unable to do anything but give in to their own sinful desires and passions. And their sinful lifestyles placed them directly under the wrath of God. God is holy and righteous and must deal with sin in a manner consistent with His character. Sin is ultimately rebellion against God and His divine will. And as a righteous King, He must punish that rebellion.

But …

That word is incredibly significant. It sets up an incredible juxtaposition that vividly illustrates the amazing transformation that takes place in the life of the individual who finds themselves suddenly standing in a right relationship with God. Paul reminds the believers of the bad news, so that they might truly appreciate the good news. “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5 NLT).

But God …

Notice those words. It doesn’t say, “But man…”  No, it starts with God, because the entire story of man’s salvation begins and ends with God. It was His plan. It required His Son. It is based on His love, grace and mercy. It depends on the power of His Holy Spirit. He is the one who gives new life. He is the one who extends mercy. He is the one who saves, forgives, redeems, and restore. It has nothing to do with us. All we bring to the relationship is our sin. We have nothing about us that even remotely deserves or earns God’s favor or love. He loves us in spite of us. God saves us by His grace, and we can’t take credit for anything. “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:9 NLT). And boast about it we would. Even now, with all we understand about God’s grace, we still try to take some kind of credit for our salvation. We somehow think we really did deserve it in some way. We were better than most. We had lived fairly decent lives. God looked down and saw something redeemable and loveable about us. But Paul says, “No!” Salvation is NOT a reward. It is undeserved and completely unmerited. It is the work of God – completely.

When it comes to man’s salvation, God gets the glory because God does all the work. He did for man what man could not do for himself. “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7 NLT). We are, in a way, trophies that reflect the amazing grace of God. Every individual who has ever been transformed from death to life, from slavery to sin to freedom in Christ, from condemned to pardoned, is a testimony to the incredible grace, love, and mercy of God. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). No brag. Just fact.

Father, thank You for this timely reminder today. I need to hear this every day of my life. I need to be reminded over and over again of the reality of who I was before You chose to redeem and restore me to a right relationship with You. I was nothing. I was dead in my sins. I was a slave to the enemy and in direct rebellion against You. I deserved death. But You gave me life. I deserved condemnation. But You showed me grace. I deserved wrath. But You showered me with Your love and mercy. I once was lost but now I’m found. Thanks to YOU! Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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