Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians 3:7-10 ESV)
The first three chapters of Ephesians are an exposition of spiritual truth. In this first half of Paul’s letter we see who we are – deplorable sinners who are spiritually dead. And we see who God is – a merciful father who loves us despite our disobedience and rejection of Him.
Each of us has a past. Some were devout atheists who denied God. Some of these, including myself, went out of their way to prevent other people from believing in Him too. Paul went even further. He killed Christians thinking he was doing the work of God.
Jesus tells us that anyone who leads people away from Him are in big trouble [Luke 17:1]. If it weren’t for the grace of God such people would be headed for a terrible eternity. But there is no sin that God is unwilling or unable to forgive. God forgave me. And God forgave Paul.
Paul understood just how despicable a life he had lead before he was saved. He considered himself to be the least worthy of any one of God’s children. He also knew just how much he had been forgiven. God tells us that the measure of His grace far outweighs the measure of our sin [Romans 5:20]. We couldn’t sin enough to exhaust His grace or to make Him stop loving us.
God doesn’t hold back because we sin. He doesn’t respond with fire and brimstone. Actually, He does just the opposite. He pours out His love, grace, and mercy even more. He didn’t wait for us to clean up our act before accepting us. Instead He acted before we realized the mess we were in [Romans 5:8].
Right from the moment of the very first sin [Genesis 3:6] God began demonstrating just how much He still loves us [Genesis 3:15, 21] despite our major character flaws. Just like a child needs love more than he needs punishment when he screws up, we need God’s love when we sin. And that is exactly how God responds when – with an outpouring of love that washes away the effects of that sin.
God isn’t out to get back at us for our sin. He is out to win us back from the trap in which sin has ensnared us.
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