This second chapter deals with that wonderful gift of faith that is freely given to us by God. Before that gift, we are “…dead because of our sins and offenses” (v1). It is a kind of spiritual death. Sin holds us down. We cannot enter heaven with sin. Sin hurts people. It hurts God, our neighbor and ourselves. We have been enslaved by many spirits; Paul particularly lists the present age [worldliness] and the prince of the air. The prince of the air is an evil spirit that those who have ill will use as a curse to put on others. It still happens today.
Before we accept the gift of faith in Christ Jesus, we grasp on to the present age for wisdom and a guide for what to do. But the present age teaches us to lie, steal, be jealous, hold on to anger, to do violence when “necessary.” It uses control, manipulation, criticism, and is eager to use each other as objects. It demeans others and is quickly willing to relegate others as sub-humans, non-persons with no dignity. With such degradation of the human person, marriage has been degraded from a sacrament where the love of God is manifest in the gift of self of covenantal love to a mere contract of mutual use. I hope we have moved past such things; how many Catholics have not. Yet this is what marks a person of faith. In other words, if we have not moved beyond such sins, our faith is pretty thin.
Part of the slavery is our rebelliousness (2), and giving way to our passions (3) in the flesh. We rebel against God because we want our way, or we think we understand things better than God and the faith that was handed down to us. We hear it said that we deserve God’s wrath (3), but do we realize it? Have we stopped to think about how we have contributed to the suffering in this world by our sins? Yet while we still held and some of us hold on to sin, God still chooses to love us. He extends His grace to us each and every day (4-5). God comes to free us from such slavery to death. He does so freely.
But God did not just free us from slavery and the eternal death that is the fruit of sin. He is willing to lavish the ultimate grace of being with Him in heaven as a member of His own family (6-7). It is faith in Him that opens the doors of heaven for us. This has some common sense here. If you choose not to have faith in God as He has revealed Himself to be, why would you be in heaven? If you do not trust what He says, why would you want to be there? Thus, those who make the decision not to have faith will be in hell. It is illogical to believe otherwise.
Yet the faith we receive is a gift from God (8-9). We cannot save ourselves either. To believe we can save ourselves is to contradict this very reading in the Bible. To think we can save ourselves is to not trust in His word and thus deny The Word. It becomes a source of pride. For some, they think they can please God by good works alone. The issue at hand was, once again, circumcision. Some of the men thought that circumcision could buy them salvation. If I do this, God will give me that. Somehow, we feel more secure by proving ourselves to God. It becomes a subconscious way of making demands of God. A good act becomes quite evil. That is why some reject God when their plan is not accepted by God. Their hearts were never submitted to God in an integrated way. It was not a true submission to God. Thus, faith was not really exercised.
We have faith in Jesus, not the law
(13-15). He died for us so that we can benefit from a relationship with Him, not so that we can jump through the hoops of an obedience that is without love. We are no longer strangers with God (19)…are we? Examine yourself on this. Is God a stranger to you or a friend? God is continually offering Himself. Do you want Him to offer things or do you want Him? He is our capstone of our church as He built it upon the apostles and prophets