One of the things I love as the Near and Far LifeGroup goes through our Bible study on Ephesians is how Paul strives to make so clear to us how very, very much God loves us and what that means for our lives.
I’ve shared 1 John 4:8 before, “God is love;” and of the vision that God gave me of the ribbon of love wrapping around each of us, believer and non-believer alike. As we study Ephesians that image stays close to mind, as I read about how our Father chose before the very creation of the cosmos for Christ to be holy and blameless for us; he knew, even from the very beginning, that we would sin, not just accidentally sin, but sin on purpose, and even knowing this, before we ever committed the sin, he forgave us.
And he didn’t just forgive us, but offers to each of us (and indeed, hopes that we will choose) his very best—grace, favor, and blessings; offering us a life that is completely debt free and filled with his abundance and riches.
“Our Father chose us to be in Christ before the conception of the cosmos, to be for us holy and blameless before God;” I’m not sure that there is any other part that I come back to as often or that makes me smile as much. We can’t be holy and blameless in and of ourselves. I don’t know of anyone, whatever their beliefs, who would claim to have lived a completely blameless life. But, when I stand there before God and the list of things I can be blamed for, both unintentional and willful is read aloud, the One that I have chosen as my Savior will be there, standing in my place, completely blameless, completely holy, paying my debt in full so that I may receive the full and complete inheritance of a child of God.
Several years ago, when God first started teaching Ken and I about Grace, one of the arguments we kept coming back to was that it could so easily be exploited. The thing is, I think it has to be that way—not just grace, but our full and complete salvation has to be so written in stone that you can sin willfully and still know that you’re forgiven and loved and favored, that Christ will still be there, holy and blameless for us, whether our actions were unintentional or on purpose.
We were sinners before God opened our eyes and we recognized our need for a savior. Now we still sin, but our eyes have been opened and we recognize our sin for what it is. We may hate the sin even as we are committing it, but only as Christ changes us from the inside out can we start to become holy and blameless, and even then, even then, we aren’t holy and blameless in ourselves. Even Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said that the things he wanted to do, he didn’t and the things he didn’t want to do, he did. Even Paul was not blameless in and of himself.
If we could be blameless In ourselves, then we wouldn’t need God. The law existed for hundreds of years before Christ was born, offering a chance for anyone who could to be completely blameless and saved through their own power. No one, not one person, could achieve it, in fact, the law was edited and worked over so much that in its current form, it is almost unrecognizable when compared to the original—all in an attempt to allow people to become blameless on their own. Paul points this out in Phillippians 3:6, describing himself, “concerning the righteousness which is the law, blameless.”