If you spend much time watching the channels on TV like The History Channel, or the Smithsonian Channel or any of the Science Channels, your will continually hear how the ancient world was such a beautiful place; that the ancient world had such great architectural achievements; and such wisdom and insight. We can see them as tourists and gaze in awe at the remarkable abilities of the Romans and Greeks and Persians and Mayans and others. Ah, yes. But, my friends, if we journey back to those times, we would see people gripped with despair, hopeless, experiencing little enjoyment in life at all.
Occasionally, a travel folder will present the image of some beautiful South Sea island. You will see happy people lying around indolently all day playing their ukuleles, with fish ready to be caught right there at the edge of the sea. You see photos of coconuts and fruit dropping off the trees. And there is nothing to do but enjoy life.
Nibblin’ on sponge cake,
Watchin’ the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin’ my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp-
They’re beginnin’ to boil
Ah yes, those vacation fliers try to call us back to the happy, primeval, simple life of those primitive people. Folks, they are complete hogwash! There has never been an idyllic society like that, and never will be. Outwardly, superficially — perhaps. But inwardly every one of them was in the grip of fear, hostility, hatred, superstition, emptiness, and religious mockery.
I read an account of a South American Indian who told the missionary who led him to Christ, “When I was living in the jungle, we never knew a day without fear. When we woke up in the morning, we were afraid. When we went out of our houses, we were afraid. When we walked along the river, we were afraid. We saw an evil spirit in every stone and tree and waterfall. And when night fell, fear came into our huts and slept with us all night long.” That is what paganism is.
And this is what the world is returning to. All around us on every side, as Christian truth begins to fade, as the nation becomes secularized and humanized, this pagan darkness starts to surround us. We should thank our Puritan fathers and the heritage they left us. But we should also ask ourselves, “What are we passing on to the next generation?”
Praise God! As Tozer wrote,
“In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct “interpretations” of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)
As bad as our current world seems, there is still a degree of spiritual revival. We can see how young people everywhere, and older ones as well, are rediscovering the great truths of Christian faith. Our Father has given us these marvelous blessings in Jesus Christ, and has called us out of such darkness! Paul goes on now to show us what has happened:
But now, through the blood of Christ, you who were once outside the pale are with us inside the circle of God’s love and purpose. (Ephesians 2:13)
Without Christian missionaries, without their knowledge of the Scriptures, without the instruction of those who came to know God and then brought the message to us, we would be nothing but pagans ourselves. There we would be without any light in our darkness other than the natural light which came from our inner being, indicating that there is a God somewhere. We would be living like that still — probably in skins in caves in the woods. But now, having once been far off, we have been brought close by the blood of Christ, by the death of Christ.
Hey! It’s not merely the death of Christ. Paul says that it is the blood of Christ! It is significant that he uses that term. Death, of course, is not always bloody. You can die without losing your blood. There are times when the Scriptures speak of the death of Christ, and more often of the cross of Christ. But we need to know about the blood of Christ. Why? Many don’t like this today. They don’t like to think of the cross or the death of Jesus as being bloody. But God emphasizes it. God wants us to think about it because blood is always a sign of violence. You see, the death of Jesus wasn’t just a mere passing away — dying of old age on a comfortable bed. No, no. It was a violent death, a bloody, gory, ugly, revolting scene — a man hanging torn and wretched on a cross, with blood streaming down his sides and running down the cross. It was a grotesque scene. Even the animal sacrifices we read about in the Scriptures were bloody and wretched. To smell the stench of the altars must have been horrendous.
God wants us to remember that violent death because violence is the ultimate result of paganism. It is the final expression of a godless society. The moment love and truth disappear from society, cruelty arises. And God is reminding us that when humanity had done its worst, had sunk to its lowest, had vented its anger in the utter wretchedness and violence and blood of the cross, His love reached down to that very place and, utilizing that violent act, began to redeem, to call back those who were far off and bring them near — in the blood of Christ.
In the blood of Jesus, every one of the advantages the Jews had, were given to the Gentiles. Yes, they were ignorant, pagan, darkened, foolish, struggling, hopeless — nevertheless, through the blood of Christ, those lost and lonely people now had just as much access to God as any Jew ever had with his temple, his Law, his priesthood, and his sacrifice! Paul was attempting to show us the exceedingly marvelous wonder of the grace of God, which laid all these liabilities aside and reached out and found us just as we were, and brought us near by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. What a gift to give thanks for!
From this point Paul is going to develop some more fantastic truth, to show us more of what it means to be a Christian, brought near by the blood of Christ. He is going to build, step-by-step and statement-by-statement until we climb a tremendous height — it is absolutely incredible that men should ever come to this position, but it is all by the grace and the glory and the love and the power of God. I don’t know what this does to you, but it makes my heart want to rejoice, to give thanks, and to praise God for what he has done in the death of his Son.
The spiritual nature produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There are no laws against things like that. Those who belong to Christ Yeshua have crucified their corrupt nature along with its passions and desires.
If we live by our spiritual nature, then our lives need to conform to our spiritual nature (Galatians 5:22-25)
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