Luke 7:47, Ephesians 2:12, Romans 5:6-10, Colossians 1:21. Luke 5:8-32.
We may well ask the question as to why the apostle Paul in writing to a privileged and faithful assembly such as the Ephesians, thought it was necessary for them to remember what their state and condition was, in the sight of God, before they were converted. ‘That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise. Having no hope, and without God in the world’.
I believe the Lord’s words to that dear woman in Luke chapter 7, help us to answer that question. If we ever forget what we owe to the Lord Jesus Christ, in saving us from our hopeless state when we were in our sins, then our love to Christ may begin to diminish. I do not think the Ephesians took heed to what Paul said. Because by the time that John wrote the first of the addresses to the seven churches, they had lost their first (best) love and had fallen from their earlier privileged position. If we ever lose the conviction of what, and how much we have been forgiven, then our love for Christ will diminish. We owe so much to Him and He suffered so much to pay the debt that we could never pay.
Similarly, Paul in that magnificent epistle which he wrote to the believers in Rome, he reminds them of what was true of them before they were saved, ‘Fore when ye were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly’, and ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’, and again ‘For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son’. Do we recall that before we met the Savior, we had no ability to deal with our ungodly nature, nor to satisfy the claims of a Holy and Righteous God about the sinful acts that we were guilty of, and certainly could never alter or improve the nature that we have that made us enemies of God?
How wonderful that in these three scriptures we have three mentions of ‘Christ died’, ‘Christ died for us’, ‘the death of His Son’.
The more we appreciate our state and guilt when we were without Christ, the more we will understand what was involved in the death of Christ to remedy it. Then the Spirit of God will increase in our heart’s affection and love for Him.
In being reminded of what our old nature was capable of, we may feel like some who have been heard to say, ‘but I would never do such things’. Thankfully many of us may have been preserved from committing the dreadful acts that we are capable of, but we still have a nature that can do the most awful things.
Paul went through great exercise about this, and he details his efforts and failures in chapter 7 of that same epistle, verses 14 and 15,’but I am carnal, sold under sin, for that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I’. and concludes, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord’. Paul never forgot what he did and many years after when writing to Timothy in the first letter chapter 1;13 he says of himself, ‘Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy’ and in verse 15 calls himself the chief of sinners, he never forgot what he owed to Christ and lived in the light of it.
How sweet it is to turn to Luke chapter 5 where so much of what we have read is illustrated for us. In verse 8 we read, ‘When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man’ or as it can be translated ‘a man full of sin’. Finding himself in the presence of such a glorious person, Peter comes to a true judgment of himself, we can only do this in the presence of Christ. Sadly Peter, later in his life forgot this judgement which led to his denying the Lord three times, but ‘the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord’ How dangerous it is to forget what we are capable of, but He never forgets.
Luke next tells us in verse 12, ‘behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought Him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean’. Here we have the awfulness of sin in the sight of God. How hideous to us such an one, full of leprosy. Unclean, banished, contaminated and contaminating to others, unable to approach unto God and no one to help. But ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. So the Lord says, ‘I will; be thou clean’. Is it possible that he would ever forget what the Lord did to him, I do not think so, every day of his life when he looked at himself he would remember what he was before he met the Lord.
In verse 18 we read, ‘And, beheld, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with palsy.’ We have read ‘when ye were without strength’, This poor man could do nothing for himself, but he had four good friends who got him into the presence of the Lord, who said to him, ‘I say un to thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house’.
Why did the Lord tell him to take his couch back to his house? Because every time he went to bed he would be reminded of his hopeless condition before he met the Lord, he would never forget what Christ did for him and neither should we.
Lastly, we have ‘Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him’ Levi’s life was surrounded by money, the love of which is the root of all evil, 1 Timothy 6:10, but the obedience of faith gave him the strength to leave it and to rise above that which in his heart he felt about it, and to follow the Lord.
I pray that we may understand why it is necessary for us to be reminded of all that the death and resurrection of Christ has saved us from, that it my ever move our hearts to love Him Who first loved us.