“But God still loved us with such great love. He is so rich in compassion and mercy. Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace! (Ephesians 2:4-5)
I am not naturally a good person. Nobody, by nature, is good. Sure, we try to make ourselves think we are good compared to the “bad people” we see around us. We have an unrealistic view of our goodness, like a drove of pigs in a filthy pigpen comparing themselves to each other and feeling clean because some other pig is dirtier.
Psalm 36:1-2 says, “They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are.” When we think we’re pretty good, we’re still wicked at heart. The money we give to the homeless doesn’t change it. Working with underprivileged children doesn’t change it. No effort of our own can make us “good.”
“You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil …All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature…” (Ephesians 2:2-3). Two forces push us toward sin—the influence of the devil and our own natural inclinations.
Whether we make a wreck of our lives, leaving pain and problems everywhere we turn, or live so-called moral lives, making good decisions and helping other people, we are still tainted by sinfulness. Unless we turn to God it doesn’t matter if we live a “bad” life or a “good” life. Either way, we are spiritually dead, headed for trouble in this life and doom in the next. Nothing we do on our own remedies our plight.
We are born with terminal sinfulness. That’s the bad news. The good news is—there’s a cure.
Ephesians 2:4 begins, “But God…” Don’t you love those two words? But God…did not leave us spiritually dead and doomed in our sin.
In his book, “Ephesians for You,” Richard Coekin gives this illustration of our dramatic rescue:
Imagine yourself as a decaying corpse…trussed up in chains inside a coffin…headed inexorably to the flames of the crematorium. Suddenly, as your coffin is engulfed by flames, someone leaps into the flames, smashes open the coffin, and despite the horrific burns that scar him forever, retrieves your corpse, breathes life into your body, washes you and clothes you in his own clothes, tenderly carries you to his chauffeur-driven Bentley and takes you home to his father’s presidential palace to stay in his rooms and feast at his table, enjoying the hospitality of his father forever.
That’s our story—the story of glorious grace. Those of us who have been so gloriously rescued should never view it as mundane or ordinary. We should never live a day without expressing sincere gratitude for what God did for us. I am so humbled and thankful for his grace. Isn’t it absolutely glorious?
Heavenly Father, I cannot express how thankful I am for your glorious grace. Forgive me for any time I thought I was good enough on my own. I know that my so-called righteousness is like filthy rags in your sight. I didn’t deserve your love and mercy, but you wrapped me in them anyway. Your grace still amazes me. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’s name, amen.
(Today’s Reading: Ephesians 2:1-6)