Beginning here in chapter two, Paul reminds us of how we have been made alive in Christ. It’s a funny thing, but I nearly added the word “again” to that sentence, but Paul’s point is not that we are now “alive again,” rather he is making the case that we have never been “alive” before. How could we have been alive when we were merely following the lead of the one who is in opposition to the One who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”?
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (v. 3)
Have you ever watched what dogs do? OK, maybe this isn’t the most tactful comparison, but when we were not following Jesus Christ, we were a bit like a dog, following our noses to whatever feels good and then doing it with no thought of consequences; a dog just doesn’t know any better, but a man does. Ah yes, that’s where the “wrath” comes in.
Notice the contrast in verses 4 ff. In Christ, we have been lifted up from that old life with its ways to the heavenly realms, by grace through faith. Paul makes it very clear in vv. 8-9 that this “lifting up” in life has nothing do with any works on our parts, nor does it have anything to do with our great abilities, so no one can boast of their accomplishment of salvation.
After making these glorious points Paul throws us a bit of a curve in verse 10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” You might wonder, as many have before, how “works” found its way back into the picture here…
We cannot work to earn our salvation; it just isn’t possible. Yet now that we have received our salvation by grace through faith, God has work for us to do in His Kingdom, namely sharing its awesome blessings with others, just as Jesus did. I can testify, no doubt along with many of you, that entering relationship with our Lord is a wonderful thing, an experience that is life-changing as a matter of fact, but serving Him in His Kingdom work is even better!