Monday, September 13, 2021

An Exposition Of Ephesians 2:8-9

        "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

        The Apostle Paul begins this chapter by describing how the world is in terms of its standing before God. Man is utterly lost, under divine judgement for sin. Man in his natural state is enslaved to Satan, living in lawlessness and perusing fleshly desires. But God in His love and graciousness has offered to us a path of redemption. We are set free from sin and death through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is life to us. It is not because we loved God, but Him having first loved us, that He reached out to man who is helpless to change his own condition. In this passage, Paul evidently made use of themes found in the Old Testament which relate to the giving of the Promised Land:

        "Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day." (Deuteronomy 8:11-18, emphasis added)

        "Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee. Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people." (Deuteronomy 9:3-6, emphasis added)

        God promised that He was going to grant His chosen nation Israel blessings. He ensured that the Jewish people would remain prosperous and secure. God wanted to continually watch over His people. God wanted to continually provide for the needs of His people. He was not, however, carrying through with His oath to their ancestors because of righteous conduct. Rather, He was working things to His glory. God was not blessing Israel because of anything praiseworthy about these people, for they had went after foreign gods and put Him to the test. The Jews were indeed a rebellious people against Him, just like the rest of us. God accomplished great things on their behalf in spite of them being unrighteous. For that reason, there was no grounds for the Jews to boast or become prideful. He wanted them to place their trust in Him. This testifies to the graciousness and mercy of the Lord.

        Likewise, God offered up His Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice to make atonement for our sins. He did so, not because of any righteousness that we have, but in spite of our unrighteousness. We have all sinned against Him. We have all broken His Law. Thus, we neither deserve His grace nor His salvation. None of us are worthy of entering the kingdom of God. His offer of eternal life is available without cost to all who come by faith. Justification in His sight is not accomplished by our merits and power, but by God Himself. He wants us to lean on Him. He gives to believers His righteousness. He saves us because He is loving and merciful. There is no room for Christians in this framework to boast, since it is God who pours new life on to our souls through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is He who removes the stains of sin from us. We are not justified by works of righteousness, but by His grace.

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