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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME

Eph 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:...

With the exception of a few dissenters, Paul is widely accepted as the author of this epistle written to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus (Vs. 1). Ephesus was a very prominent city located in an area known as Asia Minor. Situated on the seacoast, it was well known as a commercial center and visited by shippers of merchandise throughout the Mediterranean area. The well-known temple of Diana, one of the "seven wonders of the ancient world," was located in Ephesus. Although it is possible that seeds of Christianity could have been sown here earlier, we know that Paul, accompanied by Pricilla and Aquila, came to Ephesus near the end of Paul's second missionary journey. However, during his third missionary trip, Paul came to Ephesus and stayed for approximately three years. It was probably at this time that the church at Ephesus was firmly established and experienced significant growth. Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord (Eph. 6:21), is credited with having written this epistle, as dictated by Paul, while Paul was a prisoner in Rome, and afterwards, delivered to the church at Ephesus.

Our subject text opens with Paul giving praise to God for two reasons. First, Paul recognized God as the Creator of all mankind, as well as the universe in which all dwell. Second, God was praised for being the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom there is access to all spiritual blessings. Paul says that these blessings were given to us. The "us," referred to here, were Paul and the Christians that made up the church located in Ephesus. By hearing God's word, believing His plan of salvation, repenting and turning from past of sins, accepting, by confession, Jesus Christ as their Savior, and being baptized into His body, one becomes a Christian. Before the foundation of the world, God chose the faithful of all ages to be the beneficiaries of all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. With the coming of Christ, this was limited to Christians. Why? Because, as verse three indicates, they were the only ones that are in Christ.

Once in Christ, a person becomes a Christian and is assured of all spiritual blessings. But is one assured of salvation at this point? If Paul had stopped this discourse here, this may be true. However, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul continued God's message directed to all Christians. Receiving all spiritual blessings wasconditioned by this additional phrase, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love. To say that we should be, does not mean that we will be, holy and without blame. Children should obey their parents, but that doesn't mean they will be obedient. Neither does becoming a Christian assure all spiritual blessings. Only on those that are obedient and remain faithful Christians, will God bestow all spiritual blessings - only on Christians that He finds to be holy, and without blame.

To be holy, is to be pure in the sight of God; to be free from all evil and sin. To attain this degree of holiness, one of two conditions must exist. We must either be holy by never having committed any act of evil or sinfulness, or we must recognize the sin in our lives, repent and turn away from such sins, and ask God's forgiveness through our mediator, His Son, Jesus Christ. Since the first condition is impossible, forgiveness is the only avenue to a holy life as a Christian. When all spiritual blessing are bestowed on faithful Christians, God will not overlook the lack of holiness. Be assured of this fact, God, not only expects Christians to be holy, but He requires it, in order for one to find eternal salvation. .

In a like manner, God requires the members of the body of Christ - the heirs of all spiritual blessings, to be without blame. A blameless life does not mean that one has never sinned, but is free from sin through prayerful forgiveness. A forgiven Christian will conduct himself in a manner that will not bring reproach upon Christ, and His church. We should live exemplary lives that will not cause anyone to turn away from accepting Jesus as their Savior. Paul describes the spiritual nature of Christ's church by saying that it is to be ...a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27). God knew from the beginning of time that only faithful Christians would be saved, and would receive all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. It would be those making up His glorious church, those Christians that love Him and are found to be holy, and without blame.