even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)
As we were looking at in our previous Ephesians post we saw that God chose a people before He created anything. And those people he chose were going to be holy and blameless before him.
Then, at the end of verse 4, we have the beginning sentence in verse five, which is “In love.” This indicates to us with what attitude God acted. And the action in this verse is “predestine us for adoption.” This relates back to our previous post on Ephesians.
The word predestined means to decide beforehand. As we have seen, God doesn’t wind up a clock and let it loose. God acts within time and space and history. He stoops down to our level. So God’s predestining isn’t merely things playing out how they will play out. He doesn’t plan by setting some hypothetical world in order and watching it hypothetically play out. God doesn’t see you believing and trusting in Christ and obeying Christ, and then he says “oh, I’ll choose that one.” No. That goes against this whole passage. God isn’t choosing people who chose him. That would mean that God doesn’t save by grace but save because of works. That’s the opposite of adoption. That’s the opposite of being chosen to be holy and blameless. It’s a holy and blameless act to choose to follow Christ. How can we choose to follow Christ, and thus God chooses us because we choose to follow Christ? That’s contrary to this passage. This passage is saying, God chose you, and thus bestows His love and His blessings upon you, which makes you holy and blameless, which includes the holy act of choosing to be in Christ.
If that doesn’t make sense to you, then forgive me for not being able to make it clear. Let me try and be more simple: God chooses us (Christians, saints) before we ever choose him. God chooses us (Christians, saints) before he creates us. He knows that Christians will choose Him because He has ordained and set up what they are going to do. And apart of that choosing work is deciding beforehand that he would adopt us through Christ.
So now we see God determining beforehand that he would adopt people to himself, who we know to be His people. This was done through Jesus Christ. Remember, this is all a part of the blessings of “us;” who are Paul and the saints who are either at Ephesus or reading this circular letter.
So God determines beforehand that we, his people, would be adopted to himself as sons through Jesus Christ. We become his people because he determined it before hand and then does the actions of adopting. This was all done “according to the purpose of his will.” I don’t know if you’re picking something up, but Paul is using some strong words to put forward a point. There can be no doubt that God’s predestining was his will, not ours. It was according to His purpose, not ours.
Let’s not pretend that our choosing God was something we did because we are something. This passage is clear. God chose us according to his purpose. And not just His purpose, but the purpose of His will. There is nothing here that can let us believe that we have any power or ability to do something we cannot. We cannot determine God’s purposes or plans, He does that. God didn’t ask us if we wanted to be created. God didn’t ask us if we wanted to live in this world, in this family, on this continent. God didn’t ask us our opinions. God determined it all and is in control of it all.
I want to talk about the adoption and the other parts of this verse and understand the blessing that is here, but I want to make sure something is understood by this and the previous verse: that God has done it. He chose you. He picked you. He determined and decided before you existed. He bestowed His love and His blessings upon you apart from who you are.
Does that give you any room for boasting? None. What does knowing this do? Free us from trying to become something we’re not, and frees us from defining ourselves or letting others define us. This all defines us. God defines us. He tells us what we are.
If you don’t know this God, then bow, repent and believe in this God. He is a God who is living, active and abiding among his people. He has done all the work. He has given and is giving all the blessings. May we simply bask in the beauty of God’s love, His work, and in His Son. May we simply love and enjoy Him, being transformed, becoming holy and blameless before Him.