Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (Ephesians 4:17-22, ESV).
Also in Ephesians we are told those without Christ are dead in their sin, (Ephesians 2:1), followers of Satan, children of disobedience, (Ephesians 2:1). Before Christ we lived according to our own passions and desires and were considered children of wrath, (Ephesians 2:3). They have no hope and are without God in the world, (Ephesians 2:12).
That’s just Ephesians… how is it that we have not destroyed ourselves by now? Common grace. Wayne Grudem defines common grace this way, it “is the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation.” We see this throughout the Bible, in particular note what David proclaimed in Psalm 145.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made…
…The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing, (Psalm 145:9,15-16, ESV).
So this grace doesn’t save, but it does restrain evil and provides blessing. It is because of common grace that we do any good at all. Wayne Grudem explains in his work, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.
By common grace, unbelievers do some good, and we should see God’s hand in it and be thankful for common grace as it operates in every friendship, every act of kindness, every way in which it brings blessing to others. All of this – through the unbeliever does not know it – is ultimately from God and he deserves the glory for it, (pg. 665).
We can give thanks to God for restraining evil and allowing us to even do any good whatsoever. For every good and perfect gift comes from God, (James 1:17).
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