“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:1-7)
These words have been coming up a lot in my head. I’ve discovered in my life as a Christian that I get this constant sense of up and down. One moment I think I am the worst person imaginable. The next moment I think God should love me because I am so great. Sometimes I am the worst sinner and other times I am the greatest saint.
This passage though says that both of those things are true at the same time. On our own we are all “children of wrath.” Paul says we live “in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind” and deep down we know that is the case. How often have we tried to put away anger, selfishness, and lust and seen it rear its ugly head time and time again. We live out of our passions regardless of how it hurts those around us. Paul gives a bleak picture. It doesn’t look good. We have no hope to be the people we know we should be.
“But God” These words are some of the most beautiful in all of Scripture because they reflect the radical change that can be brought about through God’s power. God, solely because his character and heart is to be merciful and gracious, “made us alive together with Christ.” (2:5) Paul doesn’t frame our new birth as a patient on the operating table coming awake. He says its more like someone being raised up from the grave. That is the kind of dramatic life that we now have in Christ.
So, are we sinners or are we saints? The answer is both. You and I are sinners because what is in us is dead and filled with sin. But, we have also been raised with Christ. Know that you are dead if it is not for the unmerited grace of God. So, why do you look to yourself for your identity? He is the one who has made you alive and he will transform you. Stop trying to do it on your own power. Cling to and meditate on the grace of Jesus. He is the one who makes dead things alive.