Parallelism in Ephesians 2:1-10

I’ve been studying Ephesians 2:1-10 for the ladies Bible study tomorrow night, and I arranged the passage visually (à la Justin Taylor) so I could see the flow of thought better. This method of breaking down a passage can help you see parallelism and follow complicated syntax. I’m sure there are other ways you could arrange these ideas, but this is what I came up with and this was helpful to me as I studied the passage.

1 And you

were dead in the trespasses and sins

2 in which you once walked,

following the course of this world,

following the prince of the power of the air,

the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh,

carrying out the desires of the body and the mind,

and were by nature children of wrath,

like the rest of mankind.

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,

9 not a result of works,

so that no one may boast.

10 For we are his workmanship,

created in Christ Jesus

for good works,

which God prepared beforehand,

that we should walk in them.

    

Guilt and Love

Have you ever had one of those days when it feels like you’ve done everything wrong? Like you could turn to any of the lists of sins in the Bible and you’ve committed them all?

For example, Colossians 3:8:

  • Anger – check.
  • Wrath – check.
  • Slander  – check.

Or I John 2:16:

  • Desires of the flesh – check.
  • Desires of the eyes – check.
  • Pride of possessions – check.

I’ve certainly had days like that. Recently, I had a day when it seemed like every time I was tempted to sin, I did. There was no struggle or battling against temptation; I just kept sinning. By the evening, I went to my room to be alone because I was afraid I’d keep saying negative, bitter, angry things or that my bad attitude would get worse.

Now, in this case, guilt was a useful emotion, because my guilt and sadness over my sin prompted me to turn to Christ for forgiveness. I realized that I needed to confess my sins and that God was faithful and just to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). I love the book of I John because he makes clear that we will sin, because of our natural, fallen nature (I John 1:5-9), but that “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7). John goes on to explain:

1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

According to this passage (and others like it), there is no excuse for sinning, but when we do sin, we have a righteous Advocate in Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for our sin. And He gives us his commandments, Word, love, and power, so we can abide in Him and “walk in the same way in which he walked” (v. 6).

Now, the next morning I woke up discouraged by my sins of the previous day and felt beaten down and guilty. It was like Satan started whispering doubts into my ear as soon as I woke up and I was tempted to believe that I was useless in God’s service and that I still stood condemned before God. I wondered, “Why don’t I have the joy that comes in the morning?” and “Aren’t the Lord’s mercies new every morning?”

Now in this case, guilt was not a useful emotion because I had already confessed those sins to God and received forgiveness for them. I started praying that the Lord would stir up my affections for Him and that I’d be reminded of His love and forgiveness. I opened up my Bible to the next passage in my daily reading and came to these verses in Luke 12:

6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

22And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?26If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them31Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

This passage communicated to me so much of God’s love and grace toward me. I remembered that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8). The Heavenly Father cares about me and values me “much more” than sparrows! (What a delightful use of understatement, by the way!)

While on my way to school, I prayed that God would help me feel His love. I knew mentally and theologically that I was forgiven and loved, but I still didn’t feel loved. Throughout the day, He brought several verses, songs, friends, and situations that reassured me of His love.

I listened to this song on the way to school, and it helped me so much.

It Was Love

It was love that brought You from above
To walk upon the earth
And love that caused Your weariness
Your hunger and Your thirst
It was love that caused You to be tried
And tempted by the foe
And love that brought the nails and cross
And love that bought my soul

How wonderful Your love, the mystery of mysteries
Filling up my heart, more glorious than I know
How wonderful Your love
There’s nothing else so sweet to me
I’ll never be apart from the Lover of my soul
From the Lover of my soul

Your love is filled with holiness
O Spirit, fan this flame
Your love will never cease or cool
Your love will never change
O let me see Your love for me
Around me everywhere
The shining sun, a gentle rain
Remind me of Your care

Words and music by Mark Altrogge
As recorded on Valley of Vision

© 2005 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

And then later that day, one of my friends sent me this song, which spoke perfectly to all the things I’d been thinking and feeling about guilt and love.

Not Guilty
Mandisa

I stand accused
There’s a list a mile long of all my sins
Of everything that I’ve done wrong
I’m so ashamed
There’s nowhere left for me to hide
This is the day I must answer for my life

Refrain 1:
My fate is in the judge’s hands
But then he turns to me and says

I know you
I love you
I gave My life to save you
Love paid the price for mercy
My verdict: Not Guilty!

How can it be?
I can’t begin to comprehend
What kind of grace would take the place for all my sin
I stand in awe now that I’ve been set free
And the tears well up
As I look at that cross
‘Cuz it should’ve been me

My fate was in the nail scarred hands
He stretched them out for me and said

I know you
I love you
I gave My life to save you
Love paid the price for mercy
My verdict: Not Guilty!

I’m falling on my knees to thank You
With everything I am I’ll praise You
So grateful for the words I heard You say

I know you
I love you
I gave My life
I know you
I love you
I gave My life to save you
Love paid the price for mercy
My verdict: Not guilty
Not guilty
Not guilty