I’d rather not remember …
For today’s post, I’m referring to my notes from a lesson my pastor, Harold Adams, taught last night at our prayer service. Hence, credit for much of the content goes to him. Thank you, Pastor Hal.
If you’re a follower of Christ, like me you’re probably grateful that all your sins have been forgiven and are separated from you --- as far as the east is from the west. We were reminded of that great blessing a few days ago as we celebrated Easter.
Since those who are redeemed have been washed clean from all sin, why would Paul tell the believers in Ephesus to remember their lives before they came to Christ? See what he writes in Ephesians 2:1-3, reminding them of their past sinful lives and how they used to conduct themselves in sinful behaviors.
"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others."
Personally I don’t like to think about who I was and many of the things I did prior to my decision to live for Jesus. I have occasions when those memories come up in my mine and I try to purge them as quickly as possible. But as Paul told the house church in Ephesus, those unpleasant memories can serve a good purpose. We then see that verse 4 starts out with the glorious two words, “But God.”
Paul said, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-6
As Paul eloquently demonstrated, it is beneficial for us to recall where God has brought us from. It keeps us humble, renews our gratitude, and reminds us of His amazing grace.AND it helps us see unredeemed people in a non-judgmental light. Before we were saved, we were dead in our trespassed just as they are. Oh, our sins were not all the same sins, but our nature was the same disobedient nature. In our own unique ways, we followed after Satan, just like they do.
So when we look at a person who’s not a follower of Christ and are disgusted or angered by their behavior, we should remember that we were once on the same wrong path. Instead of having contempt for the sinner, we should mourn and grieve for them. They’re dead men (and women) walking and they don’t even know it---- just like we once were.
The only reason we’re not the same as they is because of, “But God.” God’s great love for you and me begat His great mercy, which begat His great grace, which begat Jesus’ redemptive work, which begat our salvation.
Just like all other sinners, we were the subjects of God’s wrath. But because Christ Jesus bore that wrath in our places, we who were dead, have been made alive. Herein is the most beautiful picture of love and grace.
Let’s ask God to help us see non-Christians through His eyes. He loves them the same as He loves us and Jesus bore their sins just as He did ours. He wants them in His family and we should too.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9