Christmas In January: Gift Unwrapping Secrets From A Prison Inmate – Part 5
January 31, 2021


  • Last week we continued our series on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
  • We titled it “Christmas in January” because the letter highlights the gift that Jesus is in January and every day of the year.
  • A true Christian knows that Christmas is actually every day.
  • The subtitle is “Gift Unwrapping Secrets from A Prison Inmate” because Paul is in prison while he writes the letter.
  • In one of the most undesirable places imaginable, Paul helps us “unwrap” the supernatural gift we have in Christ.
  • However, what is clear early in the letter is that the wrapping paper is not around the gift, but around our eyes.
  • Accessing the gift that Jesus is requires that our spiritual eyes be opened.

What is True About Us Because of What God Did for Us

(Heaven’s Mentality)

Ephesians 1:3-10

  • We are. . . .
    • Blessed
    • Chosen
    • Predestined
    • Adopted
    • Sons
    • Redeemed
    • Forgiven
    • Wealthy
    • Wise
    • Heirs
    • Sealed


Ephesians 1:12-14


Ephesians 1:12-14

  • The Holy Spirit is a
    • Seal
    • Guarantee (down payment)
      • We are still waiting for the redemption of our bodies and the total redemption of the earth (Romans 8:19-23)
      • Our new bodies and new earth are on their way, but in the meantime, we have the Holy Spirit.
      • The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to have foretastes of the world to come

Ephesians 1:15-23

The Power of Prayer

  • Our prayer needs are constant.
  • Prayer moves us from information to .
  • Because our natural thinking opposes God, we need the Holy Spirit to shape our thoughts.
  • The closer we draw to God in prayer, the more He reveals to us.
  • Paul prays that our spiritual eyes be opened to see
    • who God really is and who we really are in Him.
    • how wealthy God is and how wealthy we are in Him
    • how powerful God is and how powerful we are in Him

The Power of Authority

  • Jesus is seated above all other authorities.
  • God not only has authority over the church, but over authority itself.
  • God’s authority over the church is overt. His authority over the world is covert.
  • In the age to come, God’s authority over all things will be obvious to everyone.
  • God runs a covert operation because He is giving people the opportunity to choose Him willingly and by faith. (John 20:29)

Ephesians 2

The Walking Dead

Ephesians 2:1-3

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked”

  • Physical death happens when the human spirit separates from body
  • Spiritual death happens Holy Spirit separates from body
  • Separation from God is not neutrality.
  • Leaving God does not turn you into a blank slate.

When you separate from God, you leave one influence and become subject three others:

  • The world
  • The devil
  • The flesh

The world

“Following the course of this world”

  • Course = aion “an age”
  • Think of a time period like the 50s, 60s or 70s.
  • Decade naming is less about time and more about how people thought and behaved during the time.
  • The course of the world is a system of beliefs, practices, institutions and values that places creation at the center of reality.
  • The problem with this is that creation is temporary and does not represent things as they really are.
  • When we fall in love with the world, we place good and evil in the wrong . (I John 2:15-17).
  • The world’s offer is convincing because it on the .
  • The world offers the most direct connection to the things that give us pleasure, satisfaction and boosted .
  • The trade you make when loving the world is that its joys fade, becoming increasingly less satisfying with each .
  • The love of God is eternal and requires us to trust that is a better judge of what is for us than we are.

The devil

“following the prince of the power of the air”

  • Outside of Christ, the devil is above our pay grade.
  • When we separate from God, we make ourselves vulnerable to an enemy who dedicates his existence to watching and exploiting our weaknesses (I Peter 5:8)

“the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience”

  • When you are disobedient, you are walking in the spirit of the devil.
  • Disobedience makes us feel like we are asserting our independence.
  • In reality, disobedience only expresses how much we are under the devil’s control.

The Flesh

“among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind”

  • The flesh is not the same as the body.
  • The flesh is shorthand for “creation without Creator”
  • The flesh is a simple way of referring to existence without the Spirit.
  • By definition, the flesh is spiritual death.
  • It is possible to be biologically alive, yet spiritually dead.
  • When you are spiritually dead, you can still talk, act, think and desire.
  • The passions of the flesh are expressed through the body and the mind.
  • This is why the passions of our body and mind are not reliable sources of identity.

“were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind”

  • Without God’s grace, we are as guilty as the worse criminal.

Ephesians 2:4-5

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us”

  • Rich in Mercy (contrasted with the riches of the bank of Ephesus which housed worship to the pagan god Diana.

“even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”

  • God took a stinky corpse and turned it into an object of love.

Ephesians 2:6

  • Seating signifies authority, rest and completion.
  • “Christianity begins not with a big do, but with a big done. . . .Ephesians opens with the statement that God has ‘blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. . .and we are invited at the very outset to sit down and enjoy what God has done for us—not to set out to try and attain it for ourselves” (Watchman Nee, Sit, Walk, Stand: The Process of Christian Maturity, CLC Publications, 2012, p. 9)

Ephesians 2:7

  • There is another “course” to this meal.
  • There will one day be an age in which the Creator (not the creation) will be at the center of reality.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Our spiritual life makes us completely indebted to God for anything we accomplish of spiritual

Ephesians 2:10

  • Workmanship = poiema
  • The sources of the English word poem.
  • Ancient poets appealed to a muse for inspiration.
  • Inspire = filled with the Spirit
  • We are God’s poetry.
  • His breath gives us life, beauty and glory.

Ephesians 2:11-22

  • A multicultural church, but two key divisions: Jew and Gentile

remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world”

  • Gentiles once had no hope because they did not have access to the blessing of Abraham
  • It was a Jewish world and they just got to live in it.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”

  • The blood of Jesus (Rahab’s cord)
  • The dividing wall of hostility (the walls of Jericho)
  • When Jericho’s walls came down, it was salvation for those who believed and damnation for those who didn’t.
  • Rahab is proof that the people in Jericho did not die because they were gentiles but because they did not believe.

by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility”

  • Jesus is our Boaz
  • In himself, he brought Jews and Gentiles into one family, just as Boaz did with Ruth and Naomi
  • We are reconciled to each other as we are first reconciled to God.

built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

  • God’s temple is being compared to the goddess Diana’s temple
  • Diana’s temple was both a worship center and bank.
  • Diana’s image was on the money.
  • Your image identifies what you own.
  • God’s temple is more glorious than Diana’s temple.
  • It is also a worship center and a bank.
  • God’s bank rich in grace and mercy.
  • God’s image is on His people who are also literally the building materials for His temple.
  • Jesus is the cornerstone of the temple.

© Joshua D. Smith, Ph.D., 2021

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