As the hymn writer has said, "Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be!" (Robert Robinson). Paul, in referring to the redemption and forgiveness that believers have in Christ, spoke of "the RICHES of His GRACE" (Ephesians 1:7). Elsewhere he said, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10). God has given to every believer everlasting consolation (eternal encouragement) and good hope through grace (2 Thess. 2:16-17). "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that YE through his poverty might be RICH" (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Many believers fail to appreciate the RICHES that they have. The story is told of an aged silver miner who had spent his whole life searching for silver in the mountains of the Old West. He had become so involved with his search that his wife and children had left him. When he died, the handful of people who came to bury him found in his possessions a note instructing them to bury him under his cabin. As the shovels turned over the earth, a lustrous gray material began to appear. It was the famous Comstock Silver Vein, the richest in California history. That miner had been a billionaire all his life, but he did not know about the wealth that he had and he had never claimed it. He did not realize how rich he really was.
Every true believer is a spiritual billionaire. The Bible says that Christ became poor (and died for us) that we through His poverty might be RICH (2 Cor. 8:9). The believer, who is a child of the King, often goes around living like a PAUPER rather than living like a PRINCE. God wants us to know how RICH we are because of His matchless grace: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing!
We cannot possess our possessions if we do not know what they are. We cannot walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1) if we do not know what our calling is. The great facts and truths found in God's Word must be claimed by faith. We must see ourselves as God sees us in Christ. By faith we must lay claim to what has already been given to us in Christ. The grace of God teaches us and instructs us how to live (Titus 2:11-12). God's method of instruction is to first show us and teach us what He has done for us in grace, and then we are told to walk accordingly. Ephesians 5:8 illustrates this well: "For ye were sometimes [formerly, referring to our unregenerate state] darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." We are to walk in light of WHO WE ARE. We are to "be what we are." Our actual CONDITION is to match our glorious POSITION. The more we, by faith, lay hold of the glorious facts of our POSITION in Christ, the more this will affect our actual state and CONDITION as we walk with the Lord in time.
In order to fully appreciate the riches of God's grace we need to contrast our present position in Christ with our former unregenerate state when we were outside of Christ and dead in sin. The glories of God's grace shine brighter against the black background of our past state and condition before we met the Saviour. God never wants us to forget WHAT WE WERE prior to our salvation: "Wherefore REMEMBER, that ye being in time past [formerly, when in an unsaved state] 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" (Eph. 2:11-12 and compare Titus 3:3). Thus, before we consider our riches in Christ, let us consider...
I was on the broad way (road) leading to destruction (Matthew 7:13).
I was lost (Luke 19:10; 2 Corinthians 4:3).
I was condemned already because of my unbelief (John 3:18; compare 1 Corinthians 11:32).
I was a lover of darkness (John 3:19).
I was under God's abiding wrath (John 3:36) awaiting God's coming wrath (Luke 3:7; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6).
I was an ignorant worshipper (John 4:22).
I was an evildoer deserving judgment (John 5:29; compare 3 John 11).
I was of the world and from below or beneath (John 8:23).
I was yet in my sins (John 8:21,24; compare John 20:23).
I was a child of the devil (John 8:44).
I was a Christ-rejecter (John 12:48).
I was a Christ-hater (John 15:18) and a hater of those belonging to Christ (John 17:14).
I was under the power of Satan (Acts 26:18; 1 John 5:19).
I was unthankful, not giving honor to God (Romans 1:21).
I was unrighteous (Romans 1:29-31; 3:10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
I was under sin (Romans 3:9) and sin-sick (Luke 5:31-32).
I was unprofitable (Romans 3:12; compare Philemon 11).
I was without the fear of God (Romans 3:18).
I was guilty before God (Romans 3:19).
I was a sinner (Romans 3:23; 5:8).
I was without strength (Romans 5:6).
I was ungodly (Romans 5:6; 4:5).
I was God's enemy (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21).
I was a servant (slave) of sin (Romans 6:17,20; John 8:34).
I was deserving of death (Romans 6:23; compare 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
I was in the flesh (Romans 7:5; 8:8).
I was in danger of perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; Luke 13:3,5).
I was a natural man who considered the things of God as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:14).
I was under God's curse (1 Corinthians 16:22).
I was blinded by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4).
I was part of this present evil world (Galatians 1:4).
I was dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1,5; Colossians 2:13).
I was walking according to the course of Satan's world (Ephesians 2:2).
I was a child of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2).
I was a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).
I was without Christ (Ephesians 2:12).
I was an alien from the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12).
I was a stranger from the covenants of promise (Ephesians 2:12,19).
I was one who had no hope (Ephesians 2:12) and no foundation (Luke 6:48).
I was without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12).
I was far off (Ephesians 2:13).
I was walking in the vanity of my mind (Ephesians 4:17).
I was one whose understanding was darkened (Ephesians 4:18; Romans 1:21).
I was alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18; Colossians 1:21).
I was ignorant (Ephesians 4:18).
I was blind and hardened (Ephesians 4:18).
I was given over to unbridled lust (Ephesians 4:19).
I was corrupt according to deceitful lusts (Ephesians 4:22).
I was once of the darkness and of the night (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 John 2:11).
I was in the realm and under the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13; Luke 1:79; Acts 26:18).
I was one who did not know God (1 Thessalonians 4:5).
I was foolish (Titus 3:3; Romans 1:22).
I was disobedient (Titus 3:3).
I was deceived (Titus 3:3).
I was one who served various lusts and pleasures (Titus 3:3).
I was one who lived in malice and envy (Titus 3:3).
I was one who was hateful and was hating one another (Titus 3:3).
I was a sheep who had gone astray (1 Peter 2:25).
I was one who lived in the flesh to the lusts of men (1 Peter 4:2).
I was one who walked in lasciviousness, lusts, abominable idolatries, etc. (1 Peter 4:3).
I was sensual, having not the Spirit (Jude 19).
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)" (Ephesians 2:2-5).
"For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:3-5).
"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" (Ephesians 2:12-13).