Last week we began our In Christ Series with an established definition of holiness, “A state of personal spiritual life resulting from the baptism with the Holy Spirit, involving freedom from voluntary sin, purity of conscious intention and motivation, the practice of personal Christian ethics, and complete devotement to God.” (Donald Metz, Studies in Biblical Holiness, pg. 15).
It is important that we keep that definition at the front of our thinking as we study through Ephesians. In chapter one, Paul begins a sentence that in the original Greek begins in verse three and does not end till verse fourteen. It seems that Paul just looses himself in what he is writing.
Today we will not look at all the verses, I want and believe it is important for us to first notice the words of verses three and four before proceeding into what I call a salvation discourse.
Ephesians 1:3-4 NIV “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (4) For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
I want us to notice that we are blessed in the heavenly realms. We will get into this more in verses nineteen through twenty-three but I want to go ahead and make mention here of the fact that we have victory in Christ Jesus and do not have to be a slave or in bondage to sin, it is not written in the scripture, we are not lead to believe by the scripture that we as Christians cannot help but sin everyday, that is simply not Bible.
What I really want us to focus in on here for just a minute is the phrase, “with every SPIRITUAL blessing in Christ.” So many times we can focus on THE BLESSING for our finances, health, relationships, and other areas of our lives that we forget the SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS.
I am thankful for financial blessings, the blessing of health and all these other blessings, however if we begin to focus on these blessings at the neglect of our spiritual blessing, our spiritual life, THE BLESSING of these other areas will become a curse for us (Jeremiah 44:8, Deuteronomy 6:10-15).
We must always keep our minds on the right thing and we must always keep our eyes on Jesus.
Proverbs 11:27 NIV “Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to the one who searches for it.”
Proverbs 21:17 NIV “Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.”
Proverbs 28:20 NIV “A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”
We see from these three scriptures that motives are the key to THE BLESSING of God, the moment we get our eyes off Him and on His “stuff” we can forget receiving anything.
Now let’s go back and finish our text for today, verse four, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
That’s God’s plan right there, that we be holy and blameless in his sight. Now some would say that is a positional holiness only, meaning that God sees us as holy but we are still bound to our sin nature, this is contrary to scripture.
Romans 6:6, 11-13 NIV “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with (destroyed – KJV) that we should no longer be slaves to sin. (11) In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (13) Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.”
Holiness is key to our Christian lives, we are admonished to holiness all throughout scripture, in Ephesians alone as we will see as we go through this series that we are called to be holy and blameless in love, terms relating to holiness; called, inheritance, holy people; holy temple, living worthy of our calling, new self, righteousness, holiness. We are told they way of holiness is no cursing or slander, no bitterness or rage, anger or malice, no immorality, impurity or greed. We are instructed that the way of holiness is to encourage, forgiving, kind, and compassionate.
Some will look at that no doubt and cry foul, legalism, Pharisee, and other terms, but we need to understand something, grace is not the absence of law but the ability to walk in it. Let me repeat that, grace is not the absence of law but the ability to keep it.
contrary to what many might say and hear, the law was given for our benefit, to teach us how to live.
many will say we wouldn’t no sin except the law. This is not entirely true, sin came before the law, and the law was written so that we would know to sin.
Now the law does not save anybody, but it does teach us how to live. Yes, the Holy Spirit teaches us, but what does He teach us? The Word (the law).
Jesus said He would right the LAW OF GOD on our hearts, He expounded the law in His sermon on the mount. He summed up the law, not did away with it in the two commandments.
In this day of “greasy grace” I believe we need to look again at law and holiness, they are not bad but good. Do we really thing God would give the Children of Israel something bad? Do you think Jesus would have affirmed and expanded something that was bad or going to be done away with?
Some may have gotten upset because I didn’t include verse fourteen of Romans chapter six, I did it not because it creates a problem, but because the wrong understanding of it creates a problem.
“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
Now that I have finished my remarks on law, grace, and holiness I will conclude today’s post explaining this verse. Under sacrificial law, the sacrifice atoned for sin, thus the law not being able to save. Jesus came and saved us by His blood, the forgiveness of sin. When we are filled with the Spirit the nature of sin is destroyed, thus the law is no longer OLD Testament rule keeping but a guide to helping us live right and walk holy before God.
Some may still not like that answer, they may still see all this as legalism, I just ask that you would continue to journey with me through Ephesians and have an open heart as we learn together.