“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: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:12-14, 18-22).
We are as a human race apart from God wholly corrupt (Ps 51:5, Romans 3:9-18,20-24; Hebrews 11:6). We “are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). We appear ugly and gross in sin.
The events of Pentecost then, which signified the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the New Testament church both Jew and Gentile alike, are a wondrous thing! First, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit gave assurance and validity. It showed that Christ indeed had died and risen again and fulfilled the prophecies (Acts 2:32-36), and it showed that the man that had been crucified was indeed the very Son of God. Second, it showed the great mercy and love of our God, who chose to save such a depraved and unworthy people. God sent His Son to bear on the cross the burden of an entirely rebellious and undeserving people, saving us by His grace!
Though we are members of the blessed body of Christ, we still so often stumble and sin. We bumble around our lives, turning to our own cares, desires, and opinions on how things should be done. We so often look to find wisdom and direction in ourselves or use our feelings to guide our decisions. We fall into temptation and find our focus on this earth and our own selves. We want a say in how we are going to live our lives. We want to use our own reasoning, and we want to create our own morals. We want to have our own priorities and control. Over and over again we find ourselves in sin. We are still at war with the Devil and his hosts, who fight so fiercely to wreak havoc in the Church. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:9-19), and we are “dead indeed unto sin” (Romans 6:11a). Depravity still works to devour us.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:18-24).
Knowing our depravity and shortcomings is important. It teaches us just how much we need our Lord. It reminds just how much we can’t trust our own selves, and how vital it is that we look to God first in ALL things, for He alone is the source of infallible truth and wisdom, knowledge and justice. If we try to deduct things for ourselves, or only use Scripture to justify our own set of wants and opinions, we place our fallible and sin-filled opinions above the constant truth and goodness found in our Lord.
If we were left on our own we would be overcome. We would have no hope. We would be drowned in the angry torrents of sin and depravity, capable of doing only evil. God, however, has not left us defenseless. In Christ’s name and righteousness we have been made pleasing to God. When His Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, we were also given, with the great knowledge that sin and death had been overcome, a means to fight against the onslaught of Satan and his hosts, to fight fiercely against sin. We were given the Holy Spirit.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit working spiritual life within us we are able to live a life of faith in God, loving Him and looking to Him for direction and wisdom. We are given strength and comfort. We are able to fight against sin and live a life pleasing to God. On the cross death has been overcome, and in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit life has been given, that we may fight with all our might till Christ returns in final judgment. To us unworthy sinners “He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Through the Spirit, we are able to mortify the deeds of the body, and live a life of love and hope in our Almighty God (Romans 8:13). What grace!
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).