Joyce Meyer - Ephesians 2 Bible Study
Welcome to "Enjoying everyday life". I'm so glad that you've joined us today. We are in the midst of a Bible study on the book of Ephesians, and I'm going to do Ephesians chapter 2 today. And I just love the whole book of Ephesians because it spends three chapters telling us who we are in Christ, how much he loves us, our relationship with him is covered. And then it talks about now let's behave as though we were Christians. You know, I personally think that, that's one of the biggest problems that we have in the world today is that so many Christians are not letting their light shine.
Now, there are many that are, but compared to the number of people who claim to be a Christian, if everybody that is one would act like one, behave like one, especially from the standpoint of walking in love and maintaining decent moral behavior, I think that the rest of the world would already be so impressed that they would want to know Christ too. So, let me say again, I believe that how we behave is very important, not only when you're in front of people, but at home behind closed doors. You can't just be one way when you think nobody's looking, and another way when you think people are looking.
And so, once again, can't really change your behavior until you know who you are in Christ. Once you fall deeply in love with Jesus and you know what he's done for you, then you're going to want, with all of your heart, to do what he wants you to do. Jesus said, "If you'd love me, you will obey me". He did not say, "If you obey me, I will love you". That's what the first three chapters in Ephesians gets across. He loves you, he loves you, he loves you, he loves you. He loves you unconditionally. He approves of you, he chose you, he picked you out, he adopted you. He's done everything to bring us into relationship with him. And now he's saying, "Just respond to what I've done in your heart".
And chapter 2 kinda continues to go along the same lines, only I love the way it presents this. You might say that Ephesians chapter 2 reveals the Christian's past, their present, and their future. It speaks of who we were before accepting Christ, who we are now in Christ, and who we are foreordained to become as we continue to grow spiritually in him. I love it. Who I was, who I am, and the hope of what I still will yet be. The Bible says that who we were when we were following the ways of the world and were under the control of satan. It says we obeyed the passions of the flesh and the impulses of the mind. We followed our own thoughts. Do any of you remember when you just did what you felt like, and did what you thought, and didn't even know that, that was a problem at all?
Well, 2 Corinthians 10:4 and 5 teaches us that we do have an enemy, satan, the devil, whatever name you prefer to call him. Maybe you've never thought about it even in those terms, but surely if you're watching today, you recognize that there's an evil force at work in the world today. Well, that's not coming from God, it's coming from your enemy and his, satan. And in John 10:10, it says that this enemy, satan, the thief, comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. But Jesus said, "I came that you might have and enjoy your life".
Well, in 2 Corinthians chapter 10, it tells us that there's a battle going on, a spiritual battle. I'm sure most of you can feel that sometimes. And that the mind is the battleground on where that battle is fought. So, satan comes against our thoughts, he tries to put evil thoughts in our mind. And so, we walk according to those thoughts. Thoughts turn into feelings, we walk according to those feelings. And as long as we do, we cannot have anything but destruction in our lives. But until you know Christ, you don't know any better. You just think that you should have what you think you should have, and do what you feel like you should do, and you treat people the way you feel like you want to treat them, and say to people what you feel like you want to say, and so on and so forth. And then we realize that our lives are just filled with every kind of misery.
So, I have a question. How many of you can recall how miserable you were before receiving Christ? Anybody in here remember that? You know, it's actually kind of good sometimes to think about that because it gives you so much appreciation for what you have now. I was unhappy, no peace, drifting through one day after another, no real purpose, finding fault with everyone and everything. I was filled with bitterness, resentment because of the difficulties in my past life. I had actually received Christ when I was a 9-year-old child. I went to church on a regular basis, even did my little duty doing a few good works. Read a chapter of the Bible every day that I didn't understand at all because I wasn't enlightened by the Holy Ghost, and said one little pitiful prayer, the same prayer, every night. "Oh God, forgive me. Oh God, forgive me".
And I was talking really about all my wretched past. And finally God put in my heart, "I forgave you the first time you asked me to. Now, you need to forgive yourself". So, a lot of times we spend time praying for what God has already given us. I didn't know who I was in Christ, and I could not enjoy who I was in Christ. Verse 1 says, "And you he alive when you were dead, (slain) by your trespasses and your sins. In which at one time you walked habitually. You were following the course and the fashion of this world you were under the sway of the tendency of this present age, following the prince of the power of the air," which is satan. "You were obedient to and under the control of demon spirits". You were, you were, you were.
It's very interesting. If you take a pen or a marker later, and you go through, I'm using the amplified Bible, you go through it, and you just mark every place where it says "You were," and then find all the places where it says, "You are," and then find the places where it says, "You are foreordained to be," I mean, you're going to get pretty excited. Because here's the thing you've got to realize. You're not what you used to be. I said you're not what you used to be. If you receive Christ this morning, you are a new creature in Christ. You have a bright future, and you can be full of hope. Full of hope.
And then it goes on, verse 3, gets even a little bit worse. This is where it talks about you were obeying the impulses of your mind, and the impulses of your flesh, and the thoughts of your mind. Your cravings were dictated to by dark imaginings. We were then, by nature, children of God's wrath. But here we go in verse 4, the first 2 words, "But God". But God. Man, we were in such a terrible mess, but God came and interrupted our mess. Is that not amazing? Those two words are so powerful. But God. He is gracious, and he freely interrupted our misery, and said, "I choose you. I pick you to be my own child. I adopt you. I love you, I care about you. I'll forgive you, and give you a great future".
I don't understand why everybody wouldn't want that. I am just mystified by people who don't want anything to do with God. I can't understand what's going on in the world today, this big move to get rid of God. What do we think we're going to end up with if we ever got rid of God? Which he's not going to go away by the way, but you don't benefit from a relationship with God. He's not going to force himself on you. Why would anybody not want a relationship with God? Everything about him is just good. There's only one reason why. People think, "If I have a relationship with God, if I believe in God, then I can't do what I want to do. Then I'm going to have to do what God wants me to do". Well, can I tell you a secret? Doing what you want to do is not going to end up good.
And I don't know if you're 15 or 20 or 30, but if you... You know, by the time you're 40, hopefully you'll know a little bit of this, but maybe not. Maybe you'll be 50 or 60 or 70. My father was 83. Well, you know what, he received Christ, and he went to heaven right at the end of his life. He had about 3 years before he died, but he never had a life, he never had a great life. God is not going to try to take something away from you unless it's something that's hurting you and destroying your life anyway.
In acts 7:9, the Bible says that Joseph's brothers hated him, but God was with him. So, you know what? It doesn't really matter who doesn't like you. You've been accepted by God. It doesn't really matter who rejects you. The Bible says if anybody rejects you, in effect they're rejecting me. It doesn't matter who doesn't love you because God does love you. Genesis 50:20, Joseph's brothers meant evil in their treatment of him, but God meant it for good. Can everybody in here say, "But God"? The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus came that we might have and enjoy our life. Question, what situation do you have in your life right now that you need to trust God to interrupt and work it out for good? See, I believe that every time we pray, it's an interruption into the plan of satan. I think if you pray faith-filled prayers and you will be steadfast every time you pray, it's an interruption into the devil's plan.
Verses 5 and 6 say, "But we have been given the very life of Christ. Now we are saved by his grace. He has raised us with him, and seated us in heavenly places". We start out, you were, you were, you were, you were. But now in him, you have been given, you are, he has. Are you living in the reality of who you are now in Christ, or are you still living in your old you and don't realize that you've really changed? Verse 7 says, "He did this to clearly show that his grace has no limits. God will go to any extreme to redeem his children".
Now, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, wonderful salvation scriptures. My, my, my, my, we have to read 'em just to make sure that nobody misses them. Because maybe you're watching today, and you've not received Christ as your Savior yet. And boy, if you can understand these two verses, I mean, you're going to get on the phone and call us and say, "Pray with me. Pray with me". Or you can pray yourself. You don't need somebody to pray with you, but you can receive Christ. "For it is by God's grace, (his unmerited favor) that you are saved, (delivered from judgment, and made a partaker of Christ's salvation)". You say, "Well, I'm not saved". Well, when he says you are saved, he means that he's provided for your salvation. It's already been done as far as God's concerned.
Now, all you need to do is believe that Jesus died for you, admit you're a sinner, repent of your sins, confess your sins, and it's already been done, it's already yours. All you have to do is come into agreement with it and say, "I want it". You know what? I mean, I've got lots of good things in my house. I've got some good things in my purse. But it's nobody's fault if I don't get in them and use them. So, God has provided everything we need, but we need to live by faith and receive them. "This salvation is not of yourselves, it's not of your own doing, it came not through your own striving, but it is the gift of God's salvation," it's a gift from God. You don't have to strive to get it. You don't have to try to be real good to make up for your past sins. Don't ever think, "Well, God's not going to save me, I'm not good enough. I need more time to straighten out".
Let me tell you something, you can't straighten out without God. If you don't have his help, nothing is ever going to change in your life. And so, God will take you as you are. When he has a party, it's a come as you are party. "This came not through your own striving, it is the gift of God: not because of works, not the fulfillment of the law's demands, lest any man should boast. It is not the result of what anybody can possibly do, so no one can pride himself or take glory to himself". Why did God not enable us to save ourselves? Because he's going to get the credit. We can't do it anyway. And I think a lot of people do. Even when we make mistakes on a daily basis, we might withdraw from God until we think that we have time to maybe be good for a while and make up for our mistakes. You ever catch yourself doing that?
You know, God didn't move, you moved. He's still right where he was. And the best time to come into God's presence is when you have acted really bad, and you desperately need him. And to say, "I'm sorry that I failed. I know that you still love me, and I need your help". Verse 10, Ephesians 2:10, Dave and I both really love this verse of scripture. "For we are God's own handiwork". Don't keep finding fault with the way you're put together. You are God's own handiwork. "I don't like my feet, and I don't like my thighs. I don't like my nose, and I don't like the gifts I have. I wish I had somebody else's gifts. I wish I could sing, I wish I could this, I wish I could that". You are God's own handiwork. You are not a mistake. The Bible says that he carefully and intricately created us when we were in our mother's womb with his own hand. Stop finding what's wrong with you, and start looking for what's right with you. You all have something to offer. You all have a gift that enhances the rest of the body of Christ. "For we are God's own handiwork, (his workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew that we may do those good works".
Now, I told you that the first three chapters of Ephesians is about who we are in Christ, this new birth, what he's done for us, how much he loves us. Anytime that you're having a problem struggling with behavior, go back to relationship. Let me say that again. Any time you're struggling with behavior, go back to relationship. "God, I don't want to do this, but I just keep doing it over and over". You go back to relationship. You spend a little more time with God, you spend a little extra time with God. The thing you don't want to do is withdraw from God and say, "Well, I just, you know, surely you can't love me after the way I behave. I've had a problem with this for years, or years, or whatever". No, you keep going back to him and say, "I am not going to give up. I know you love me. I know that freedom is mine".
Don't withdraw from him. We are born again, recreated that we may do. That's why it's so pathetic if somebody claims to be born again, and their behavior never changes. They're not doing anything to help anybody else. He said, "You're recreated in Christ Jesus. You're a new creature, you're a new type of humanity. You have a new normal". And our normal is to live our lives to be a blessing to other people. Our normal is to give, not to take. Our normal is to compliment, not criticize and complain. We have a new normal. "To do those good works which God predestined of time, taking paths which he prepared ahead of time that we should walk in them living the good life, which he prearranged and made ready for us to live".
And now, in case we just don't have it, in verse 11, he goes back to talking about who you were. You were separated from God. You were walking in the flesh. You were rejected and criticized. We had no knowledge of God's promises, and we had no share in his promises. We had no hope, and were in the world without him. Once again, he's establishing... And I hope those of you watching by TV are getting this. But many of you have not been saved yet, and I'm just telling you that you don't have to stay forever in that condition. And if you don't know God, you are miserable, you are in the world without hope. But you don't have to stay that way because who you were does not have to be who you are. And the even better news is who you are doesn't have to be who you will be in the future. We're changing daily. Every day, we're changing. And if you're receiving this word as the truth of God, then it is changing you, and you will see the result if you don't lose sight of your relationship with God.
See, what most people would do is maybe you hear all this, and then you leave, and you get aggravated at somebody, so you think, "I haven't changed. I haven't changed". No, then you say, "Thank God that you're working in me and I am changing. I believe. I've got my key". Then verse 13 through 16, my gosh, I love this. "But now in Christ, we have been brought near". He says, "You were, you were, you were. You were separated from God, walking in the flesh, rejected and criticized, no hope in the world, and without God. But now, in Christ, we have been brought near". He is our peace. All the dividing lines between people have been broken down. You know what that means? Nobody out in the world is any better than you, nobody's any worse than you. We're all equal in God's eyes. He even goes so far as to say there's no more male nor female, no more Jew nor Greek, no more slave nor free.
Somebody's not better because they're the boss, and they're lesser than because they're the employee. A woman is not less than a man. Guess what? God uses women. No more male or female. The Jews always thought that they were better than everybody else. He says, "No more Jew nor Greek. You're all one in Christ". And don't you love that? I don't have to compare myself with anybody. I still find myself doing it once in a while, but thank God I've got this reference to go back to. See, just because something is yours doesn't mean that you can't lose sight of it once in a while. Do you ever have something in your house that you're pretty sure you bought, and now you need, and you can't find it?
Well, that's the way sometimes we are with Christ. It's like we hear about it, and we think during the sermon it's ours. And then 6 months later, the devil's condemning us about something, and we think, "Well, I thought", but somehow or another, you can't find what you really need at that particular time in your life. That's where the Holy Spirit is so practically wonderful in our everyday lives because he'll remind you you don't have to be condemned about that. Receive your forgiveness and go on. Don't waste your time feeling guilty and condemned. Don't compare yourself with other people. Don't compete with other people. Don't be stingy. Don't stay angry.
Man, I thank God for the Holy Spirit. Aren't you thankful for the Holy Spirit? It's just like having your mom follow you around all day and say, "Do this, don't do this, do this, don't do that". We don't have to try to do anything on our own. God will help us, but he is a gentleman, and he wants us to say, "Help me. I surrender. I need you". Start every day telling God how much you need him, every single day. You know, if you have a lot of insecurities in your life, don't just try to gloss over them and ignore them, or wish you weren't that way. Go to God and say, "I am not going to put up with this. This is not my inheritance. This is not what you died for. Maybe I was inferior and insecure, but I am not now inferior and insecure, and I'm going to see the benefits of it manifested in my life as I continue to grow in you".
Let me ask you a question. Are you just putting up with stuff? "Well, I just have a problem with insecurity". No, don't do that. And don't even do it to other people. Let me tell you something. Using that as an excuse to not do anything with your life is a waste. You don't say, "Well, I'm just insecure". You say, "I'm learning who I am in Christ every single day. My confidence is in him. Greater is he that's in me than he that's in the world. And I can, through the power of Christ, and through his grace and mercy, do great things with my life". We need to believe these things. Let me ask you a question. Do you have any idea how much God has done for you in Christ? And he wants to come and not just be this vague reality in your life that's way off up in the sky somewhere. No, Jesus said, "I'm going away, and I'm going to send you another comforter. I'm going to send you someone to represent me and minister in my behalf, and he's going to come and be not with you, but in you".
You have your Father in you. You have peace in you. You have power in you. You have hope in you. And now, don't do what people do, "Well, I don't feel, I don't think. Well, somebody told me I'm no good". Well, somebody doesn't know what they're talking about. God knows what he's talking about. My father told me all my life I was never going to amount to anything. Well, ha ha. But God. I heard another message, amen? Who you were is not who you are. And who you are is not who you're going to be. Are you growing spiritually? I think that's the question that I'd like to end with today. Are you growing spiritually? Are you attending a church where you feel like that you're growing spiritually? Or do you just go every week to put your time in, thinking you're going to get your church attendance checkMark on your spiritual calendar?
You need to be growing. Don't get mad at a teacher or a preacher when they say something in their messages that kind of makes you feel a little uncomfortable. We need that. We need to be prodded to move on from where we are to where God wants us to be. Spiritual maturity is very important. Growing in God is very important. This chapter ends up by talking about how we are God's building, and we're all being built up together into an edifice that he can come and live in. Well, you know, Jesus' natural job here in the earth was a carpenter, and he's still building us from glory to glory to glory. Now, spiritually, you're finished. Spiritually, you're complete in Christ. Spiritually, you've got every single thing that you need. But you still need to let the Holy Spirit help you get it from way down deep inside of you to out here, where the world can see the amazing thing that God has done in your life, amen? Thank you, thank you for being with us today. I hope you really enjoyed the teaching.