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 1:4
Have you ever wondered what these spiritual blessings, of which Paul speaks in the text above, actually are?
If you have, and you’re still not sure, I believe I have the answer for you.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is constructed in much the same way as his letter to the Colossians, which is more of a condensed version of his message to the Ephesians.
In Ephesians, Paul speaks of the “spiritual blessings” in heavenly places in Christ (1:4). He also speaks of our being seated with Christ in heavenly places (2:6-7). In Colossians, he says something similar.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. ~ Colossians 1:1-4
What exactly is Paul talking about with all this language of “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” and “seated with Christ in heavenly places” and “dead with Christ” and “your life hidden with Christ in God”?
The answer is found in Paul’s teaching of the old man from which are redeemed, and the new man we are called to be. In Colossians 3:5, Paul begins to unwrap what he means by saying, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth…” (v.5)
Paul then gives a list of the sins of the flesh which we are to put to death in our lives, and refers to this as “putting off the old man.” He then says that we are to put on the new man created in the image of Jesus Christ (3:10) by walking in love, forgiviness, kindness, peace, etc.
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. ~ Colossians 3:12-15
Paul goes into much more detail about putting off the old man and putting on the new in his letter to the Ephesians where he employes the same language of peace as the calling of the believer.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:1-3
This is the heavenly life to which we are called.
Sin is why Christ died, and the expression of sin is the old man of which we are instructed to “put off.” In Paul’s theology, the old man mentioned in Romans 6, as well as in Ephesians and Colossians is not some “mystical thing.” It is a direct reference to the person that sin causes us to become, and Christ died to save us from our sins, which make us murderers, liars, thiefs, blashpemers, adulterers, etc. Paul describes our old man being crucified with Christ as “destroying the body of sin.” ~ Romans 6:6
When we choose to surrender to Christ, we choose to live after the life of Christ, and thus we crucify the old man of sin: who we were in our sins.
Christ died and rose again, to set us free from our sins and to give us power over sin, that the life from above could be freely expressed in us.
The virtures of the new man in Christ, ruled by the peace of God, is what Paul is speaking of when speaks of the spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus and those things which are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
The Holy Spirit comes to us with the glorious life of the enthroned Christ, empowering us to live in this dark and sinful world as true ambassadors for Christ, with a life and peace that is only heaven can give.