Alive in Christ: The Redemptive Power of the Cross
The battle between the flesh and spirit is a struggle the Christian knows all too well. It's like waging war on a decaying part of themselves, as Paul suggests in Romans. He accurately describes the weight that sin has in this life. A nonbeliever will dive headfirst into sin, spiritually dead and undiscerning about the weight of their passionate desires. Our very nature is subject to God's wrath, but in His mercy He rescues and has provided a way back to Himself through Christ's atonement on the cross. This article will focus on the beginning of Ephesians 2 and being made alive in Christ.
"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. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclination of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and 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 you have been saved!)" (Ephesians 2:1-5, NLT).
"Alive" by Big Daddy Weave, uploaded by BDW Music
You've heard me say that in order to understand scripture, not only does it need to interpret itself, but the history behind the text needs to be studied. Both of these are critical especially in a society that distorts the message of the Bible.
The author behind the epistle of Ephesians is the apostle Paul, written during his imprisonment in Rome around A.D. 61-62. Paul's message focuses on the overview of God's work in eternity (past, present, and future). Even though this epistle is titled "Ephesians," Paul's message is still applicable for all churches today. This is why in some translations there is not a mention of the church in Ephesus, a major economic trade city in Asia. Translators and scholars wanted to emphasize that Paul's message was not limited to a certain group of people, but spiritually inspired by God for all.
Paul's focus begins with God's work in the past (the atonement on the cross) and moves to the present (the ongoing sanctification process for those that choose to believe in Christ). So, what is Paul stating when he states that those in Christ were once dead because of their disobedience? He is referencing the fall of mankind through Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and how thorough man's seed, sin entered into the world. He is stating that through one act of disobedience, mankind became spiritually dead and in need of an atonement--a way back to God for the penalty of sin is death.
Read Genesis 3 for the context of the fall of mankind.
Alive in Christ: The Weight of Sin and the Redemptive Power of the Cross
Ephesians is often misinterpreted by churches such as Elevation, Hillsong, and Bethel as being about our own works and gratification. God is clear that our own works lead to death and it is only through His grace we are able to have redemption and new life. The Bible isn't about our self-gratification, but on how to deny self. Scripture paves the way to the One who has destroyed sin's eternal power, not to our own glorification.
See the following references for the context mentioned above.
1 Corinthians 1
1 Corinthians 5
1 Corinthians 6
The weight of sin is death, but God has made a way back to Him through the atonement on the cross. Although God has crushed sin's eternal power, we still struggle with sin due to being in a decaying body of flesh that wants to gratify its own desires. It is similar to a person dying and the soul leaving the body. When the soul leaves, the body tries to revive itself before accepting that it is dead. Sin reigns in the same way in the body without God. By being born again in Christ and being made spiritually alive, the body is no longer ruled by its selfish gratification.
The temporary pains of this life are in no comparison to the glory that is to be revealed later (Romans 8:18). For those that have accepted Christ, there is new life through the redeeming blood of Christ's atonement. The power of sin has been thwarted and overcome at the cross. Let not sin reign in your body today. Be set free through the work of Christ on the cross.
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