If we don’t know who we are in Christ, we are liable to flounder our way through life. I have floundered a lot in my life: sometimes trying very hard to be who I think I should be and other times not really trying at all. Our ladies’ Bible study is studying the book of Ephesians now, and my eyes have been opened to who I am. When we believed by faith in Christ, we received an inheritance from the Lord, which is given by His blessings. First, we are told that the Father has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing–not just one or two. “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” (Eph 1:3). What are these spiritual blessings? They are the key benefits of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
The word blessing in Ephesians 1:3 is a translation of the Greek word eulogy, and it means “to speak well of.” Since God is the one acting in this verse, we can say that God has spoken good things about us, or pronounced good things for our benefit. The good things that God has decreed for us are probably beyond our ability to number, but we can outline a few by looking at the verses that follow the statement (Ephesians 1:3–13), and we will be going through these in the next several days.
The first blessing listed is the election as saints. Ephesians 1:4 says that “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him”. God has chosen to make us holy and blameless, and all because of His love, His good pleasure, and His grace (verses 4–6). What a blessing, that “even when we were dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5), God chose to extend His grace to us and offer us salvation. This is even more amazing when we realize that He made that decision before sin even entered into the world, “before the foundation of the world”.
The Lord is all-knowing, so He knew that we would need a Savior even before He formed us. When Paul tells us that God “chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”, what is he talking about? Is he talking about what God wants us to be? Or, is he talking about the already accomplished result of God saving us in Christ?
Ephesians 5:25-27 teaches that the result of the sacrificial death of Christ for His church (His body) is “to make her holy, cleansing her … and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” This is obviously the effect of Christ’s death, not the effect of the church’s striving. 1 Corinthians 12:27 tells us that we are the church, His body, therefore, it is the Lord’s work that makes us holy and blameless. It is one of the gifts of grace He gives us when we believe by faith.
We see further evidence in Scripture that making us holy and blameless is the Lord’s work, not our own. “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22) This perfection is the result of the death of Christ. When Christ died all of our sin and guilt was laid upon Him. It is no longer held against us.
Everything unholy, everything worthy of blame, everything attracting and incurring guilt – every spiritual spot, wrinkle and blemish was dealt with by his death. God no longer sees them. God no longer relates to them. God no longer takes them into account. The perfect righteousness of Christ now covers us. When God looks at the person who is united to Christ by faith He sees only Christ: “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). This is a blessing of incredible and unexpected magnitude and significance: that we in Christ are holy and blameless in God’s sight. We are not chosen because of our own perfection or ability to be perfected. Rather, we are chosen in and through Christ, who offered Himself as the blameless sacrifice. Thus, our blamelessness is not earned, but endowed in Christ by God’s grace.
Yet, this does not mean that our behavior is irrelevant. Indeed, through God’s Spirit, we are to live out who we are in Christ. As Paul explains to the Romans, we are to present our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Rom. 12:1). We do this by offering ourselves to God each day, seeking to live in a way that honors Him and advances His kingdom in the world. When we fail–and we always do this side of the age to come–we rest in the assurance that we belong to God “in Christ” and not by our own merits. With this confidence, and with the help of the Spirit, we press on to be the holy, blameless people God has chosen us to be, for His glory.