How does God change the human heart? This is a question that I often wondered as it was so clear that my life had been transformed in September of 2000.
Ephesians 2:1-10 offers what I believe to be the clearest picture of the Good News of Jesus. It points us to the activator of our faith and the means in which the heart is transformed.
1(A) And you were(B) dead in the trespasses and sins 2(C) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following(D) the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in(E) the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in(F) the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and(G) were by nature(H) children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
There are two people in the world that exist today.
Those who “Were” dead in their trespasses.
Those who “Are” dead in their trespasses.
The scriptures teach us that outside of Christ we are absolutely dead to our sins and trespasses. There are two characteristics that come with being physically dead; you are unresponsive to everything and those who are dead are subject to corruption or corrosion. The body deteriorates over time, until dust has returned to dust. The same is true spiritually; when the bible speaks of us being spiritually dead, it is simply saying that there is nothing that we could do to lovingly respond to God and over time we continually are getting more self-centered and more corrupt. Now, if the story stopped there, it would be a bad day; but it doesn't.
In two words everything changes, in two words we see how someone who is dead, becomes alive; in two words we see how someone who is unresponsive to everything and full of corruption; finds life.
Not, BUT I pulled up my bootstraps and began to take things serious. Not, BUT I grew up and matured. Not, BUT I got married and she got me on the right track. Not, BUT I started to do good things for people. Not, BUT I had kids and started to raise them in the church. Simply……BUT GOD!!!
being(I) rich in mercy,(J) because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even(K) when we were dead in our trespasses,(L) made us alive together with Christ—(M) by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and(N) seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable(O) riches of his grace in(P) kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For(Q) by grace you have been saved(R) through faith. And this is(S) not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works,(V) so that no one may boast.
We are dead in our transgressions and sins: BUT GOD. We are unresponsive and becoming more and more corrupt: BUT GOD. Our best efforts result in failures and mistakes: BUT GOD. We are controlled by the world around us, by evil spiritual forces, by our inner drives and desires: BUT GOD. We deserve eternal judgment: BUT GOD. God being rich in love and mercy, sent Christ to pay the penalty for our sin and provide a way for us to live life to the full. Finally, we are alive, finally we have the ability to experience the world and life in the way in which God originally intended it.
Why? Why would God do this? Why did God change me? Of all the people in the world, why did he choose me?
In a believe that is so beautifully saturated in grace, it is hard at times to see the importance of works. Do our works so anything in the process of justification? Absolutely not.
However, Good works are key to the believer in Christ because it does two things.
It gives a means of purpose in our lives because that is why we were created. We have been created to do good, so now that we have been transformed, we see our purpose as doing good.
Our good works, are also our assurance of salvation. We are saved fully by grace through faith, but our assurance of God's supernatural saving grace is in our works. James says very clearly that faith without works is dead. Therefore, we are called to not have false assurance of God's saving grace in our life, but instead look internally and honestly evaluate our works to see if we are truly in the faith.
True Faith will produce Good Fruit.
All of that said, the most important day of our life is the day that we will stand before Jesus, our knees will fail us and we will bow before him. And the only thing we will be able to say is......”I was dead....But God.”