Updated: Jun 3, 2019
Never before have those words stood out to me so much as they did this week while I was reading Ephesians. I’ve read that book of the Bible dozens of times, and I never realized the weight those two words had. Look at this:
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:1-10 NASB (emphasis mine)
All of this chapter is so rich; please go read it all if you have the time. But for now, just look at these verses. The first three speak of our depravity as fallen human beings.
We were dead. Our sins cut us off from any source of life we could have had. We were headed toward eternal destruction, destruction that we deserved. We were “children of wrath,” incapable of doing anything good or worthy of praise. We lived miserable lives, trying to satisfy our deepest inner desires with all the wrong things. We were hopeless.
But then God came along.
The word “but” is very important in the Bible. We were dead, but now we are alive because of Him. We were sinking into the depths of hell, but He raised us up into heaven. We were children of wrath, but He adopted us and made us His children. We were living for our lustful desires, but now we are living for Him, satisfied by His grace and mercy. He changed everything. He loved us even when we were dead in our sins! He took us from death and despair, took us from an eternity in hell, and raised us up to be with Him forever. We are now alive. We are no longer hopeless and destitute. Our lives have been turned upside down, shaken up—all because God decided to act.
We are no longer those people in the first three verses. We are the opposite. We are saved. We are secure. And, just so we don’t get any funny ideas, Paul made sure to point out that this was all God’s doing. We couldn’t have done anything ourselves. We wouldn’t even have the faith to believe in him had it not been for God giving it to us.
This is a powerful passage. It shows us our utter depravity and His perfect love and power. There is so much more to mention about these verses, but I encourage you to meditate on it for yourself. What does this passage mean to you?
To me, it means God’s love. It means I’m worth more than I can imagine. It means that I cannot do anything without God. It means that I will live the rest of my life, and long after that, giving thanks to God. It’s what prompted this prayer:
God, I feel so convicted. The “but God” in this passage is huge. If I look at everything I’ve done, everything I’ve been, it gets so discouraging. But that’s where you come in. You take my world and shake it up. You turn it inside-out. It’s no longer I trying to figure life out, stumbling around in the dark; it’s you, shaping me and working through me. And I realize it was never about me. It’s always been about you, what you’ve done, who you are. You’re so amazing. And I love you. Thank you for not letting my story end with me alone, destitute. Thank you for opening my eyes and showing me a glimpse of who you are.
What about you? What does “But God” mean to you? What insights have you gained from reading Ephesians 2? I would love to hear your thoughts!