In Ephesians 2, Paul commented further on the meaning of being alive in Christ. As he did in Romans, he emphasized Christ’s effect on sin in our lives. However, this time, he comes at it from a different angle.
Instead of writing that we are absolutely dead to sin in Christ, “[Y]ou were dead in your transgressions and sins…gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.” (2:2-3, NIV) Paul then wrote one of the most beautiful, powerful passages of scripture about God’s love for us and how that love saved us, making us alive in Christ.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (2:4-9)
He went on to say that God’s grace was so powerful that the Jews and Gentiles, once hostile to each other, were made into “one new humanity” through the death of Christ. God’s grace not only saves us from sin, it is the force that causes us to be one with those with whom we have differences.
It is by God’s grace that we are saved and called away from our sins to do good works. But these works do not save us. God’s grace saves us.
Looking back at Romans, we are dead to sin. We still sin, but we are no longer controlled by sin. By God’s grace, we are saved from the sins we still commit though Christ’s death on the cross.