Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 6
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|Christians are called to walk “holy and blameless”. How can we do that?|
Holy and Blameless
We’re going to be looking at God’s eternal design for believers. Let’s read all the way down through verse 4 so we can catch the flow of what the apostle Paul is saying here. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” Verse 4 is obviously connected to verse 3. In verse 3 He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In verse 4 He has chosen us in Christ.
What a wonderful beginning to this praise time. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, and He has chosen us. You can’t really appreciate this until you have laid yourself before Him, surrendered your heart and your life to Him. If we have learned to worship Him, when we start reading these things, God opens the heavens to us, and the praise just flows out of our life. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Not only that, we have been chosen in Him. But why did God do this before the foundation of the world?
This book of Ephesians is a wonderful, wonderful book. There are three chapters on who we are in Christ and three chapters on whose we are in Christ, how we’re supposed to live. It’s a beautiful, beautiful book. And when you get way over to chapter 6 you find out we’re in a warfare. But he wants you to know something first. He wants you to know who you are. He wants you to know what your position is in Christ Jesus. It’s a beautiful, beautiful picture here that He’s drawing for us.
I want us to look at two things regarding God’s eternal design. Why was it that He blessed us and chose us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world? Well, it says it in the last part of verse 4, “…that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” There are two points that are going to come out of that little phrase. Let’s just look at that one phrase now. He has chosen us in order that we should be holy and blameless before Him. First of all His eternal design for all of us that are believers is that our position in Christ will always be secure. God wants us to know what our position in Christ is and that it will always be secure.
Have you ever wondered about your eternal security? Are you worried about losing your salvation? Many people are, and many people have been taught that you are not eternally secure in Christ Jesus. Now what does that lead you into? It leads you into legalism because if you’re not secure you had better work for it, and if you’re going to work for it you had better do certain things. Not only that, mysticism fits immediately into that because you expect God to do something to show you that you really are in His kingdom. You’ve got to have some kind of ecstatic utterance. You’ve got to have something happen to you. So you’re always pursuing something outside of Jesus, an experience or even Asceticism. People who are uncertain of their salvation are always trying in some way to prove to themselves that they have it.
But what I want to show you is in the statements that we’re reading. God shows you your position in Christ is secure for all of eternity. He uses the term “that we should be” (NAS). It is the Greek word einai. It’s the present infinitive of eimi. “…that we might be holy and blameless before Him.” Present tense means ongoing, never to end, not just today but tomorrow, the next day, the next day and the next week and the next week. And the infinitive there always expresses purpose. What is the purpose of God’s choosing us and blessing us? The purpose is that we always be holy and blameless before Him.
Now it even gets better. Let’s look at the word “holy.” We are eternally to be holy before Him. What does it mean to be holy before Him? Remember when we looked at verse 1 we went through the book of Ephesians, and I showed you that the word “holy” is the same word for the word “saints”? So when you think of a saint you have to think of the word “holy,” hagiois. It’s the same exact word. What does it mean? Here it means morally pure, upright, blameless in heart, right, virtuous. It describes the inward pure state of a believer in Christ. He is inwardly pure. Now we know we are not sinlessly perfect, but somehow we are told here in scripture that in Christ, because of what He’s done in our life, that we have been made inwardly pure, eternally. God sees us that way. He sees us in Christ.
Look in I Peter 1. Now this is the difference between Jesus and us. He is inherently holy. He’s always been that way. Our holiness has got to be imputed to us. It’s something that happens when Christ enters into our life. I Peter 1:17-19 says, “And if you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth, knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” It speaks of Jesus as being without blemish, without spot. It speaks of Him as being inherently that way. Now we’re not inherently that way. But we have somehow been made holy. We’ve been made inwardly pure as Christ has entered our life, cleansed us of our sin, washed us in the blood. Then, because of Him and His residence in our life, we are eternally holy before God.
Now I don’t know about you but that kind of excites me. God sees me in His Son and sees the work His Son has done in me, and that will never, ever, ever change. Positionally, I am secure in Christ Jesus.
The word “blameless” has to do with being without spot or blemish. The Greek word is amomos. It means a–without, and momos–spot or blemish. No spot or blemish. In secular Greek it was a technical word that referred to the absence of something, or something amiss in a sacrifice which would make it unworthy to be offered. In other words, a sacrifice was rejected because of spot or blemish, something that was in any way amiss about that sacrifice. What it says here is, because of the finished work of Christ, what he did in our hearts and in our lives, we can never, ever be rejected. We’ve been cleansed of anything that can ever reject us in the sight of God because of what Christ did for us on the cross and what He did for us in our life as He entered in and became the very essence of our being.
God says we are holy and blameless before Him. We are to be eternally holy and blameless before Him. That was His design before the foundations of the world. God knew that His creation would reject Him, and God came up with a plan before the foundation of the world had even happened. Before any system had appeared on this earth, God made provision that you and I as believers be holy and blameless before Him. That phrase has the same impact and understanding as Romans 8:1. Romans talks about the constitution of our faith. Romans 8:1 has the same understanding of us being made holy and blameless, blameless meaning nobody can accuse us and nobody can reject us because of what Christ has already done in our lives. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That’s the key to Ephesians, and that’s the key to our understanding this. When you receive Him He comes into you, and the Holy Spirit of God baptizes us into the body of Christ. And when we are in Him, all of our blessings are found in Him. We are eternally secure. We see that the believer has been blessed and chosen in Christ so that he is eternally, positionally pure and cleansed of anything that would ever cause him to be condemned.
Now that phrase “holy and blameless” is also found in Ephesians 5:27. It talks about a situation with husbands and wives. There is a great understanding of this phrase in verse 27 when he compares our relationship with our wives to Christ’s relationship with the church: “…that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing but she should be holy and blameless.” It is the purpose of God with His people.
It is used again in Colossians 1:22, which talks about how He has reconciled us to God, and tells us why. “…Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” So we see then that God here tells us through the apostle Paul that our position in Christ is eternally secure.
Look with me again in Romans 8:33-39. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Who’s going to bring a charge against God’s elect? Because He has chosen us and blessed us in Christ in order that we are holy and blameless eternally before Him, positionally we are secure in Jesus Christ.
You know I’ve always wondered about people who have a conviction, they say, that you can lose your salvation. And I have some logical questions to ask outside of scripture. If you can lose your salvation, how many sins does it take to lose it? I would love to hear somebody explain that. You would have to say one sin because you know that all sin is evil in God’s eyes. Listen, most people who believe you can lose it believe you can get it back later on. How many times can you get it back? There’s got to be a secretary in heaven somewhere with an eraser about four miles long, and wherever my name is on that roster there is a hole rubbed in it, because it has been written in and erased out, written in, erased out, written in, erased out so many times that they don’t know if I’m in or out. It doesn’t make any sense. If you did nothing to get your salvation, what can you do to lose it? If it was His work, and it was His design, and He chose us before the foundation of the world, what in the world can you do to nullify that choice?
I hear people say, “Oh, but Brother Wayne, when you are inside Jesus that’s one thing. He holds on to you, but you can choose to walk outside of Him.” Hold it. Hold it. Whoever in the world told you that the Holy Spirit inside of you would allow you to make that choice? You know there is someone now who lives in you that didn’t live in you before. And He’s in you, Philippians says, to will and to work. He even works in your desires.
Many people who don’t believe in eternal security and can’t understand this truth are people who have been raised and taught that salvation is a gift. Let’s just say that you have a handful of change. I stand up in front of you and say, “I got a gift for whoever wants this gift. If you want it you run up here and get it.” If you’ve got it now I can’t take it back because it’s a gift, and it’s always your gift. But if you grow up thinking salvation is nothing more that you receiving a gift from God, then no wonder you believe you can lose your salvation. That’s not what salvation is. In the words of our Lord Jesus Himself in John chapter 3, He said salvation is a birth, something takes place. You are a brand new creature. II Timothy 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ he’s a brand new creature.” The Spirit of God has entered into his spirit, and they have become mysteriously related together.
Take the ingredients of bread. You put in the flour, and you put in yeast. I don’t know what else you might put into it. You put it all together, stir it up and make dough out of it. You put it on the pan. You put into the stove. You cook it, and when you take it out, there’s bread. No scientist in this world has ever been able to go back into that bread and take out the ingredients. They can’t do it. They are mysteriously blended together. You can never rip them apart. How do you take God’s Spirit out of a man’s spirit? There’s no possible way. It’s an entrance of God into a person’s life, a cleansing, and that is for all of eternity.
God sees you in His Son. Because He is inherently pure He has come into your life to purify you and by His residence in you automatically declares to the world that no man can bring a charge against God’s elect, no man. That was designed before the foundation of the world.
Can you imagine Paul saying, “Praise the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has chosen you to be holy as long as…” and then puts all the conditions that go down below it? Be careful when you read translations that put that little “if” after some of those statements. Sometimes the translator makes it look like you got to measure up to conditions or you can’t have that holiness, when it should be translated “since you do,” because the Holy Spirit of God now lives in your life. So the first thing He wants us to praise God for is that our position in Christ is eternally secure.
But the second thing I want you to see is sort of implicit. He begins to lay some groundwork here that he picks up on in chapter 4. Not only is our position in Christ secure, but so is the believer’s practice. Our practice is not perfection. Remember that. I’m not preaching sinless perfection. I’m talking about our position in Christ forever. But when you start coming back down to where we live and breathe here on planet earth, a believer’s practice before Christ, before Christ, his position in Christ, is secure. His practice before Christ is settled. There is no question about it.
Now I want to show you what I’m talking about here. He says, “…that be should be holy and blameless before Him.” Now this has already dealt with our position, but I want you to see in verse 4 the implicit practice of the believer. Now listen to what I’m saying and hang with me. Even though we are holy and blameless, declared so by God himself, since we are to be holy and blameless in our daily practice, the unworthy has been declared worthy. But now the unworthy that’s been declared worthy is to walk in a manner worthy of that which God has done. Now did you catch all of that? The unworthy has been declared worthy. We didn’t do it. That’s God’s grace. Thank God for that. But those that have been declared worthy now need to walk in a manner worthy.
Look in chapter 4 of Ephesians. You’ll see what I’m talking about. He’s laid the groundwork. He’s not really saying this in chapter 1, but it’s implicit in the understanding. If I’ve been declared holy before God, then I automatically have no recourse but to seek to live holy among others. In chapter 4:1 it says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you have been called.” There’s something implicit here. When you find a believer that doesn’t want to deal with sin and self, you’ve got a person that has a little bit of problem with his salvation. When the Spirit comes in, inherent in the believer is the desire to trust and please God and to walk and live worthy before a lost world.
We’re declared to be holy and blameless. We should strive to be holy and blameless. Look at Ephesians 2:10. That which God has done inside has got to have some effect on the outside. It says in Chapter 2:10, “…for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” What were we created for? So that what we are on the inside could be expressed on the outside in our life, the good works.
We think good works are something we come up with and ask God to approve. But what did the verse say? We are created for good works that He came up before the foundation of the world. They were predestined before the foundation of the world that they might be expressed in our life. He has declared us to be holy and blameless. But now He has challenged us to express that through our life.
Look at II Timothy, and you’ll see how these good works flow out of us. It’s nothing we do. It’s something God does. II Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness in order that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The word “adequate” means equipped. It’s just another way of saying it. It’s the picture of a ship that has been fully loaded to carry out its course.
“You mean those good works are there but yet I’ve got to be equipped? I’ve got to trained? I’ve got to be taught? I’ve got to be reproved by the word of God?” Yes. And as I walk with Him that way, dealing with sin, dealing with self under the Word, the lordship of Christ, the Word gets into me. It changes my way of living. What comes out of me are those works that were predestined before the foundation of the world. And they are going to be on the outside if the heart has been made pure on the inside. You know we’re living in a day that wherever I go, it seems when I talk about dealing with sin and dealing with self, people just look at me like, “Man, where have you been? That doesn’t work in the twentieth century.” But, folks, it does work. It hasn’t changed. God’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. We’ve got to deal with it. The person of the Holy Spirit lives in us. And He’s in us to guide us and to teach us and to lead us and to convict us and to help us understand the Word so that the good works can come out of our life. That’s what Christ does through a man. It’s not what a man does for Christ. Christ is in a man having made him pure all of eternity. Christ wants to be expressed in His works through a man as a man learns to surrender to Him.
Romans 8:29 says we’re destined, foreordained, to be conformed into the image of Christ Jesus. The only problem is we don’t get to choose the tools that God decides to use to chip us off and conform us to the image of Christ Jesus, even though positionally, we’re already holy and blameless. I never worry about my position in Christ. That’s taken care of. However, practically, that is a struggle, and that’s the fight Paul says he has fought at the very end of his life. I’ve fought the good fight. The word fight is agon. It’s the fight of the flesh and the spirit. Paul says I have defeated Paul in my life. I’ve finished the course. I’ve done what God has called me to do. I’m ready now to go and get the crown of righteousness which awaits me.
Look at II Corinthians 7:1. This gives us another clue of how this holiness is perfected in our life down here. It’s already been perfected for all of eternity. But in II Corinthians 7:1 it says, “…Therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness.” Now wait a minute. I thought we were already holy. We are. But since we are holy we are to live holy in the fear of God. We’ve been declared holy and blameless. Our position is secure in Him.
But I want you to notice one more thing in Ephesians 1:4. It says He “…has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” The last two little words there are very, very, very, very important. Who determines if Wayne is walking holy before God? Who determines if Joe is walking holy before God? Man does not set the standard on this. This is where legalism and those kinds of things mess up. God sets the standard. We are walking and living that way before Him.
Let me just show you some verses, starting with Romans 1:9. Notice what Paul said. Everything we do is before Him. I might walk out of here, and you may say, “Brother Wayne, that was a wonderful message.” I don’t determine that by what you say. I have to determine that by what He says. It’s all before Him. He’s the one who knows the motive and everything that’s there about what’s done. Paul says in Romans 1:9, “For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the Gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how to unceasingly I make mention of you.” In other words, you may not believe me but I don’t have to convince you. I do it before Him. He’s the one who keeps the books. Isn’t that wonderful. Man, that makes me want to shout. A lot of men may nail you and me while we’re here on this earth by what they think and what they perceive. It’s God who keeps the books. God knows. He’s our witness.
Look in II Corinthians 4:1-2. That’s why we’re not to be other people’s judge. We’re to judge ourselves. Paul is talking about his apostolic ministry. He says in verse 1: “Therefore, since we have this ministry as we have received mercy we do not lose heart, but we have renounced things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the Word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man conscious in the sight of God.” Oh man, if we could all live this way and know that what man thinks is one thing, but what God thinks is everything. He knows. And so therefore I don’t have to please you, and you don’t have to please me. We all are seeking to please Him who has seen fit to make us holy and blameless in Christ forever. Isn’t that wonderful? We serve to please Him.
Then look at Galatians chapter 1:20. He wants them to know that he’s not lying. You know Paul has just got this real consciousness about the fact that they know that he’s telling the truth, and he says in verse 20, “what I’m writing to you I assure you that before God I’m not lying.” In other words if you can’t trust just what I’m saying you can believe something. What I do, I do in the presence of Him. It’s before Him.
Turn to I Thessalonians chapter 3:11-13. “Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all men, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all of His saints.” There’s going to come a day that He will ultimately let everybody know what He knows that man down here does not know.
So therefore, our position in Christ is secure but our practice in Him is settled. No preacher needs to get up and motivate people to obey Christ if they are His servants, because at some point they’re going to have to deal with the person that lives within them. And that person within them is going to bring them to conviction somehow or another. Now He uses people to do that, but they’re really not that necessary, because it’s God’s business with His people. He oversees His flock.
Let me ask you a question. Are you excited that your position in Christ is secure? Have you even grasped that yet? I don’t fight with somebody who still says, “I’m still not convinced.” That’s alright. I can’t convince you anyway. Somehow through the Word, God is going to have to convict you. I can’t do that. But let me ask you this. If you truly say that you have Christ in your life, is it settled with you that you have no recourse but to live holy and blameless before this world because God accepts no other standard in your life? You say, “Now Brother Wayne, what does that mean?” As I have said before, if you go out to a restaurant, and you order beans, but they bring you peas, and they’re cold, as a believer, holy and blameless before God in Christ, you have no recourse but to turn to Him, ask Him to give you the grace that that which is within you may reach outside of you and touch the one who made the mistake.
The lifestyle of a believer who’s positionally secure in Christ is settled. It must be expressed in his practical outworking in his life. We have no recourse, folks. It’s settled. Thank God for His grace that enables us to be able to live the way He wants us to live and to conform down here to the image of Christ Jesus. One deals with or salvation which is eternal. The other deals with our sanctification which is a process. We won’t make it down here. But one day He’ll come and make it for us. But in the meantime we’re to be conformed in the image. What’s on the inside has got to be expressed on the outside. Praise the God and Father who has chosen us, blessed us, that we might be holy and blameless before Him.