Holy and Blameless
“…that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Ephesians 1:4)
Bible Reading: Ephesians1:3-4
Paul’s praise to God, we noted in the last devotional, arises out of the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places that we have been given in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). The first of these that he mentions is the blessing of being “holy and blameless before him” (v. 4).
This, the Apostle Paul says, is something that was in the mind and heart of God in eternity and central to his appointing his Son to be the Christ. Even “before the foundation of the world”, he says, God “chose us in him” (that is in Christ), to be holy and blameless before him. This was all part of a divine plan. It involved “choosing” us (commonly spoken of as election) in connection with Christ.
The particular spiritual blessing in view is being able to be in the presence of God in a state of holiness and freedom from blame. By nature, of course, we are anything but these things. Our lives are soiled by countless misdeeds, and our nature is bent and twisted in a way that has corrupted God’s original design for humans. As a result of that and the actions that flow from it, we are guilty of a multitude of sins that make us blameworthy before God.
But God, in Christ, has overcome this. In the perfect life of his Son in human flesh and his self-offering for sinners, he has provided pardon and righteousness. “In Christ” – that is, not only chosen in him but united through faith by grace to him – we come to share in his perfect holiness and righteousness. God can look upon us now as “holy and blameless” in his Son, and receive us into his heavenly presence as such forevermore.
We have a picture of this in the book of Revelation. Faithful believers are spoken of as those who will walk with Jesus in “white” (rather than soiled) garments (Revelation 3:4). The great multitude in the heavenly realm that John sees in one of his visions is made up of people “clothed in white robes” and identified as those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, 14). It is the blood and righteousness of Jesus that purifies them and enables them to be part of the redeemed multitude.
The 18th-century Moravian leader Count Nikolaus van Zinzendorf picks up on this idea in his wonderful hymn “Jesus thy Blood and Righteousness”. For those not familiar with it, this is how it goes:
Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am,
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
How perfectly these words capture the confidence, hope and joy that we can know through being “in Christ.”
- What does it mean to you to know that in Christ, you appear holy and blameless in God’s sight?
- How does it affect your thoughts of Jesus and your relationship with him?
– Andrew Young