Rich In Mercy (Part 1)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
There are two pictures in these verses that I am excited to share with you and I just can’t fit it into one devotion, so I’m splitting it into two parts and you’ll have to come back for Part 2.
Here are the truth statements: First, we were dead in our trespasses. Second, God is rich in mercy. How do these two truths work together in these verses? How does God’s mercy apply to me? Why should I care that he is rich in mercy?
The verse says I trespassed.
There was a clear boundary line set by God and a big “No Trespassing” sign posted throughout his perfect instructions and I repeatedly crossed that line. And I didn’t just put a toe over the line, I trespassed far down the path of sin, following the course of this world, with Satan himself leading the parade. We tend to think of trespassing as a minor offense, with a minor punishment. But that completely depends on where you’re trespassing, doesn’t it!? Climbing over the fence onto Mr. Blackwell’s ranch, not such a big deal. Trespassing onto an army base, different story! Sneaking into the White House would likely mean being shot on sight and few would be surprised or think the action too strong. Why? You were only trespassing. These verses tell us that trespassing into sin, living in the passions of our flesh, is always punishable by death, eternal spiritual death. Sin is a big deal to God, it goes against all that he is and loves. This is what I deserved.
I deserve eternity apart from God, in Hell even, for my trespassing – so do you. Try to quantify that amount of justly earned suffering. You can’t. It is infinite suffering. So, if God was to cut short my suffering and yours to 10,000 years in Hell, how much mercy would he be showing us? An infinite amount of mercy! So much less suffering!
But he showed us even more. God has not reserved one year, one day, even one second for us in Hell. He has completely removed all punishment for our sins! As the hymn “It is Well With My Soul” says, “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.”
As author Tim Challies notes, “Can you imagine singing, ‘My sin, not the whole but in part’? … To be partly forgiven is to be wholly damned. Partial forgiveness is complete condemnation. The Christian and the Christian alone knows the pure delight of God’s full and final forgiveness.”
I’m so thankful to personally know the delight of God’s full and final forgiveness.
Now that we’ve explored the meaning of being dead in our trespasses, we are ready to delve into Part 2 next time - What is this “stuff” called mercy and how does one become rich in it?