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As Paul tracks the path of spiritual death, he doesn't lay all of the blame on the world around us, neither on the corrosive fellowship of unbelievers nor on the might of Satan and all his cohorts. He tells us of the enemy within—our own physical and intellectual nature. We're the battlefield.

Sometimes when an emotional flare-up has broken a relationship, we hear, “But that's just the way I am. I can’t help being this way.”

Of course that's the way they are. Who would dispute it? But it's tragic to remain that way when the spirit of God is available and willing to enter our lives.

Not only do we find some kind of relief from our rationalizations about ourselves, but we also look around us to rationalize the whole world’s behavior. We may even be better than the people around us. After all, who wouldn't like to compare his own virtues with another’s vices. As they say, “In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” In Ephesus, as in much of the world today, believers were a minority. It seems always so. The world around us is no excuse for the world within us. In our day of sociological stereotypes, it's easy ta say, “Change the environment, and you'll change the people.” Nature should teach us. A lily blooming in a muddy pool is as white as one in the florist’s window.

A fish living in a world of salt water still needs to be salted before becoming tasty. Lionel Arrington once wrote a song that reminded us that all the water in the world wasn’t enough to sink us unless the water got inside the boat.

One of the words Paul uses carries more significance than we usually give it: “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past …” (Eph. 2:3). Rightly understood, the word conversation means “citizenship.” (“Life in association with others, in the everyday intercourse of society.” Interpreter’s Bible, 1953, Vol. 10; p. 641.) Citizenship was a cherished word to Paul. He was a Roman citizen, even when he was far from Rome or any Roman province. As such, he demanded and got the special recognition and privilege of the empire. Now he talks of his former citizenship in the world of iniquity. This has changed. He's now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Later in this chapter he speaks of being “aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).

It's impossible to carry two spiritual passports—we must both choose and be chosen.
Fortunately, God has already chosen, so now we must choose.

 

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