EFFECTS OF THE CROSS 6 of 7
Eph 2:4,5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions
We continue to pursue these same ideas that keep coming over in the Scriptures, this same picture of us who are Christians having died and being raised by God to live new lives. We need to keep on considering this because it is so easy to misunderstand what BEING a Christian is all about. In a nutshell, it is God providing the means whereby we can receive His forgiveness and cleansing and be reconciled to Him, so that He can then empower us to live new lives, lives that we were incapable of living before.
Here in Ephesians, in our verse today, Paul is commenting on how remarkable it is that God raised us up to new life, even while we were still stuck in this old spiritually dead life characterised by wrongs. God didn’t say, try a bit harder and then I might come alongside you and help you achieve it. No, He took us while we were still complete failures and transformed us by energising us. All you did in the whole thing, was confess your state of failure, your inability to be righteous or godly, and ask for His forgiveness and His help. That was repentance. You were still in your old state when you uttered those words. You hadn’t changed, you couldn’t change. You had probably tried to change but any change had been cosmetic, purely on the surface. You were stuck like that. You couldn’t get out of it.
Imagine this picture if you will. You know, probably, that iron filings are attracted to a magnet. You perhaps experimented with them at school. It’s a strong magnet and the force of the magnet draws you, the iron filing to it. There is nothing you can do to escape its draw. It’s a scientific, physical characteristic. If you were a living iron filing you might scream and struggle to get away from the tremendous attraction power of the magnet. Now, that magnet is Sin. You may scream and shout about trying to be free from it but nothing you can do can break you free from it. Now along comes God and puts in you a stronger, opposite power to the power of the magnet. Suddenly you are free. Suddenly the magnet no longer has any power over you.
This is what God has done by putting His own life-energising Holy Spirit in you when you came to Him. Previously you were spiritually dead, attracted by Sin and totally unable to break free from it (that IS the truth!). God came to you while you were still in that state and in that state put His power into you. Instantly you were set free, instantly it was like you were made spiritually alive, instantly the power of Sin over you was broken. Just like Christ was re-energised when God raised him up from the dead (Acts 2:24), so He has now re-energised you from your old dead life. You didn’t deserve it, God just did it. That is the mercy Paul was talking about. Mercy is not deserved, mercy is not justice. Mercy is God giving you a new life for no other reason that He decided to give it to you.