August 23, 2016
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 23 August 2016
What has claimed you: the domain of darkness or the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ? Having explained “every spiritual blessing” that God’s people experience in Christ (Eph 1:3), the next aspect of the believer’s new life that the book of Ephesians describes is how the Lord effected salvation. Ephesians 2 begins with the remarkable statement that all humanity was born in spiritual death. When the spirit is separated from the body, physical death occurs. When the spirit is separated from God, spiritual death occurs. Death is separation. Eternal death (the second death) occurs when both the spirit and the body are separated from God.
Those who live contrary to the revelation of God’s Word do so because they reject the Author (God) of Scripture. Moralizing individuals will not help because if there is any change, it will be from one lifestyle that displeases God to another that equally does so (Rom 8:8; 1 Cor 2:14-16). Until an individual receives spiritual life (rebirth) in Christ (by grace through faith), he or she is spiritually dead, which means there will be a lack of response to spiritual things. God, however, who is “rich in mercy,” provides spiritual life resulting in “the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4, 7).
Those who are blessed and chosen by God (1:3-10) “were by nature, children of wrath, even as the rest” (2:2). Those who do not trust Christ will experience eternal death (the ultimate wrath of God). God’s love — motivated by holy mercy and grace — was demonstrated in providing the means in which something could be done in response to the guilt of those who are spiritually dead, yet without them bearing the punishment of eternal wrath. The response is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. He took the punishment of the guilty. By grace through faith, believers are regarded as having died with Christ and being raised to newness of life with Him.
Ephesians 2:3 describes the manner of living in a spiritually alienated condition. Life values are determined “according to the course of this world,” which is created and energized by “the prince of the power of the air” (Satan). Satan’s kingdom encourages ungodly (non-biblical) actions, attitudes, and values. The ungodly energized value system motivates the gratification of illicit desires. Consequently, the wrath of God abides upon those who indulge “the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (cf. Rom 1:18-27; Acts 5:5; 1 Cor 11:30; Gal 6:7; Heb 9:27; 2 Pet 3:7). Verse 3 reveals the truth that those who are separated from God live according to their feelings. Non-biblical living is defined as being emotionally oriented and motivated: satisfying one’s own desires and impulses (which is often hidden by a logical and nonchalant exterior).
The responsibility of the believer is not to live “according to the course of this world,” but to pursue “good works, which God prepared beforehand” (2:10). There is a divine standard to distinguish good works from the desires and lusts of the flesh. There is no need to guess because God has given his Word. The power to accomplish those good works is also given by God: believers are “His workmanship.” The ministry of the Bible is the means for sanctification. Believers are holy through Christ, and are called to continue growing and striving for holiness by cooperating with the indwelling Holy Spirit until complete conformity to Christ is attained.
God’s motivation for his mercy toward those who were “dead” in “transgressions” was to demonstrate “His great love” and “the surpassing riches of His grace” (2:4-5, 7). Salvation is by God’s grace through faith; “it is the gift of God” (2:8); not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (2:9). “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Prov 16:18). “He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (16:20). Ephesians 2:1-10 provides one specific manner to eliminate boasting: being reminded that God raises the believer from spiritual death, and grants new life and faith.
God’s Word, the Holy Bible, teaches that those who were spiritually dead and objects of God’s wrath have been delivered. Motivated by his great love, God extends mercy and grants deliverance from wrath by his grace, through faith. God accomplished this redemption without help. Consequently, believers are his workmanship, and the good that is accomplished in this life is determined by God (because He provides the eternal perspective that all humanity needs) and is accomplished by his enabling. Join me in praising God for his gracious gift, and also studying and fellowshipping in the ministry of the Word for our spiritual growth, and letting God display his glory through our lives!
Your Capitol Missionary-Pastor,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.