Today’s scripture reading:
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.a He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. References for Ephesians 2:2FootnotesAll of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Salvation refers to the freedom gained when God rescues someone from slavery to sin and makes that person part of His family. This deliverance is accomplished only through His Son Jesus, who died in our place so we might be reconciled to the Father (“Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” Col. 1:22). This statement often evokes questions:
What if I try to live morally right, working hard at my job and being good to my family—won’t God accept me? Such questions assume that the Lord saves us on the basis of the way we live. But Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, not even one.” In God’s sight, even our virtuous acts are like dirty rags (“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” Isa. 64:6). Holy God will not have dealings with unrighteous people except through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Won’t the Lord accept us because of His goodness? God is loving and good, but He is also just. He won’t overlook sin, no matter how small we think it is. Pride makes us reject the idea that we need forgiveness or cleansing from sin.
If we serve in our church or help the poor in God’s name, aren’t we part of His family? Good works do not solve our sin problem or reconcile us to God. Only Jesus does (“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peacea with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Rom. 5:1). Good works are an important result of salvation, as opposed to a basis for it.
Salvation is a work of God’s grace, not the product of man’s effort. When we respond to the Spirit’s prompting, believe in Jesus, and are born again as God’s children (Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,a you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3), we can be assured of our place in heaven. How sure are you?