Chapter 2:4-10 (ESV) - But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Question to consider: Why are our sins not erased by our good works?
Before we came to faith in Christ, Paul described us as the walking dead, for central to our existence was a pursuit of our physical desires in a world filled with death. Consideration for God and the things that please Him was not even on our radar. We may have even lived a life filled with good deeds by the world’s standards, but no amount of good works could overturn a crime that carries a death sentence. The only effect these works may have had was to increase the number of people who grieved at our funeral.
However, in today’s passage, Paul explained that instead of leaving us dead in our sins, God lavished upon us His love and mercy by raising us from the dead along with Christ and seating us with Him in the heavenly places where He would continue to show us favor and kindness for eternity. What did we do to deserve this? Absolutely nothing! Even the faith and hope we have in Christ was given to us as a gift. None of us can brag about how lovable we were to God to deserve such treatment, for the death rate is 100%. The mortician may put a “cause of death” when filing the necessary paperwork, but the root cause of all death is sin, and God is the only one that determines the times and places in which we live and die.
This raises a bunch of questions. How were we raised with Christ? If works don’t save us, what place do they have in the life of a believer? If God gives us an overflowing supply of mercy, does it even matter if I sin? As far as the works question, Paul answers it here by saying our good works were given to us by God. They are a result of being new creatures in Christ and not to earn God’s favor.
The rest of these questions were asked by those in the Roman church a few years earlier, and Paul responded as follows, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:1-5)
Dear heavenly father, thank You for raising us up with Christ in our baptism and giving us a new life of loving and serving You and our neighbor. May the overflow of Your love in us pour out to those around us as we bring Your gift of life to the world. Amen.