“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” (Ephesians 1:4, NASB95)
I was reminded this morning listening to someone else that when you lose your train of thought it is probably best to just move on. Most of the time, at least for me, it is just an illustration of something else that I lose and not the subject matter itself. Several days ago I spent some time working through verse 4 and writing down some of my observations and thoughts concerning this passage. When I was done I saved it to the “cloud” because this is what you do with electronic tablets. Yet when I went to retrieve it from the cloud storage and continue where I had left off I found that it was not there. I guess I shut my tablet down before the upload had completed (So much for carrying an electronic device instead of a yellow paper pad). Coming to terms with the reality that my own thoughts were gone, I am reminded that the truth which I was observing when I had those thoughts had gone nowhere. God’s Word is the same as it was a couple of days ago, and it is the same as when it was diligently translated into the English which I understand, which is still the same as when it was originally given to the apostles and prophets. God’s words haven’t changed.
Paul wrote that we were chosen by God before there was ever one day of our lives. We were chosen before there was even one day in His creation. We were chosen by Him before all of this ever existed, and He chose us with the full knowledge of who we would be, all that we would be capable of, all that we would do whether evil or good, and knowing every single sin that we would ever commit This even includes the ones that we commit after we recognize His choosing and we have believed in His Son to be saved. God chose me totally apart from anything good about me. In fact, He chose me when He knew that there was no good in me, and in His goodness and kindness He chose me to receive the righteousness of His Son to replace my own unrighteousness.
He did not choose me because He knew that I would become good, but because He knew what good He would do in me and how He would then prove Himself through me as I live in that goodness before Him with the goodness which He gave to me. In writing this long run on sentence I was reminded of His creation in the beginning and how at the end of each day He saw what He had made and pronounced it “good,” even “very good” after the sixth day with the creation of man. When He had completed His creation there was no bad (evil) in it. It was holy, blameless, and good. It was right, with no wrong. Man was perfectly righteous with the righteousness of God in which he was created. But then man sinned. Satan entered the garden after being cast down from heaven and he deceived the woman. Both she and her husband then ate, and sin entered the world. From that time forward both the nature and practice of man was sin-dominated. Paul wrote in Romans that there are none that are righteous, emphasizing it by restating, “no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
Knowing this to be our condition, even the angels in both heaven and those cast to earth were left to observe what would happen next, probably expecting nothing better of us. God created man and man failed. One might be tempted to say of us that if we were to build a team and then that team fell apart that we failed ourselves because we allowed them to do so. And, we know from Scripture that Satan has tried this tactic even as He accused God of showing partiality toward Job because of how He favored Job. But God demonstrated in Job that He was working something else. Maybe the same thing can be said of us. God was not caught by surprise when the first man (Adam) sinned, just as He is not caught by surprise when I sin today. Yet before He created Adam and all of us who followed He chose to draw some to Himself and to demonstrate in them His great love and power to redeem that which is lost.
I think we are all touched when we see someone’s life radically turned around. We see stories of this in the news and in social media. Our hearts are touched by how people acting in compassion have reached into the lives of others. Even the world that does not know God considers this a valuable thing. There is this part in us that knows when we have been touched down deeply. It is no wonder then that the God who created us chose to use that ability to be touched to demonstrate Himself to be real to those who do not know Him. It is no wonder that God chose us who were slaves to sin and the evil one to demonstrate His power to change lives such that people look at us and are amazed.
This is the visible side which the world sees, but we also see that God chose us primarily that we might be holy and blameless “before Him.” This is how He made man originally and this is how He makes us to be in Christ at the moment we are saved. All of our sins passed away and we are made spiritually alive with the righteousness of Christ. Then as He works in us we grow in practice to live in accord with who we are. God did it. He does it still, and He gets all of the credit to His glory. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing….”
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NASB95)