Eph 2:11-13 “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 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.”
Paul has just finished assuring us in verse ten that we are the workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus. Because of this truth (wherefore), he calls on us to exercise our memory. We need to remember that there was a time when we were Gentiles in the flesh. Our conversation (behavior) was empty and without profit (vain) in the tradition of our forefathers (1Pe 1:18). We had not recanted our love of worldly things, and in this we were uncircumcised of heart. There were those that judged us as being outside of God’s ability to save. Their trust was in their own works; they trusted in the circumcision in the flesh made by hands. In other words, they were relying on their works according to the law.
We need to remember that when we were uncircumcised of heart, we were apart from Christ. This does not mean that we were not the children of God; we simply were not yet created in Christ Jesus to live by faith. We were non-participants (aliens) from the community and citizenship (commonwealth) of God’s covenant children, represented in type by Israel (Rom 9:6). We were foreign (strangers) from the covenants of promise.
This scripture does not say we were corpses, but rather strangers. We were not dead, in the sense that there was no life there to appreciate the covenants of promise. Rather, we were aliens in the sense that we had no knowledge of our entrance into these promises through Jesus Christ. We had no confidence (hope) that the grace of God should apply to us. We were without God in the world, having no comprehension of His great love for us.
But now! Now, praise His holy name, things are very different for us. We used to be a long way off from the commonwealth of God’s covenant people. Now we are caused to be (made) close to all that we were once alienated from. We are caused to be; an action that took place outside of our ability. We did not make ourselves to be, but we were made to be by the blood of Christ. In His blood, He has made us accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6)!
Why do we need to remember what we were in time past? If we do not remember what we were, then we will become cold toward God’s children who are as yet uncircumcised in their walk. We will become self-righteous, taking over-much pride in our religion and our customs, and forget that we are still undeserving of His grace and mercy. I pray that you will all understand when I say that I do not love Primitive Baptist doctrine. I love the doctrine of Jesus Christ!
I am in danger of losing perspective of the truth of God when I begin to think of my belief and confidence as belonging to a group of people (whatever their name) rather than belonging to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is what happened to Israel, even in their law service. They became more in love with the law than with the Law Giver. They ceased to think of their religion in terms of being God-oriented. It was this condition that prompted Paul to say of himself and those that were of the circumcision in the flesh made by hands that it was the “Jews’ religion (Gal 1:13-14).”
May God bless us to remember that we were sometimes far off, even as others are today, and the blood of Jesus Christ that brought us nigh is the only thing that will bring them!