Quick Take Series: Sometimes the Scriptures will use a word that is has an important meaning. It can be helpful to understand the meaning and context of these terms. The “Quick Take” series is just a brief look at some of these terms. It will provide a simple definition, an example or two of the term in use, and leave you with a few other places in Scripture where the term is used. The list would be a great place to start your own study of this topic in the Bible, or a simple plan for your next couple devotions.
In Ephesians 1:4, we read that God has intended, from before the beginning of Creation, that Christians ought to be blameless. What does blameless mean? The definition I find in my dictionary (BDAG) is “being without fault and therefore morally blameless.” The same word is translated “unblemished” in the Greek version of the Old Testament (LXX). Those passages discuss the kind of sacrifice that is acceptable under the Mosaic Law. An acceptable sacrifice needed to be spotless. It could not have any defects at all. When this idea is applied to people the term is speaking of moral blemishes, not physical blemishes.
This idea is more easily seen when comparing how different translations render this term. For example, in Phil. 2:15 this same term is translated as follows:
- “faultless” – NKJV, (H)CSB, NKJV
- “without blemish” – ESV, NET
- “above reproach” – NASB
Let’s look at a Ephesians 1:4 to see how Paul uses this term.
Eph. 1:4 – just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
Here we read about God’s plan for His creation. From the very beginning God had intended His people to be blameless. This chapter goes on to explains that God has chosen us, Christ has died for us, and the Spirit has sealed us. Chapter 2 explains our sinful condition without God. Sin has always been the fundamental problem with humanity, the fundamental “blemish.” But God, in His great love for us, sent His son as our sacrifice. He who was without blame took on the penalty of those who had blame. And all this was done freely on account of His love for us. We can receive forgiveness for our many ‘blemishes’—our sins. This includes not only our past and present sins, but all future sins we may commit. In fact, once we have received forgiveness, nothing can separate us from God’s love. We are secure in Christ. We have the guarantee of the sealing of the Spirit.
This future security of the Christian brings up a new question: does it matter if we still sin? Since we cannot sin so much that we could exceed the wondrous sacrifice of Christ, should we just keep sinning? Paul answers this question with a resounding “Absolutely not!” in the book of Romans. But here this term blameless raises an important question that will help us to see why we shouldn’t keep sinning even though we have been forgiven. The question we should be asking is this: what was God’s purpose in creating us? What was God’s design for humanity? What was His intention behind creating little image-bearers? One part of the answers to these questions was that He intended to create a people who are blameless. To continue to sin (with no care to repent and be renewed in your mind) is not only contrary to the commands of the Scriptures, it is also contrary to God’s design for our lives. His design for humanity was that they should bear His image, including being blameless as He is.
But the question we usually ask sounds like this: If we are forgiven of all sins (past, present, future), and if no sin can separate us from God, why not keep sinning? This is a common roadblock in dealing with sin. What should motivate me to ignore the desires of my flesh if obeying in to those desires cannot change my eternal destiny. I would submit that this theology is correct (no sin can separate a believer from God). However, there is another hidden sin behind this question. Not hidden from God of course, but hidden by the deceptive human heart.
Who do you live for when you ask the above questions? Are you seeking to live your entire life to serve the Lord? Really stop and ask this question. It can be easy to attend church every week, read your Bible occasionally, pray sometimes, post some Christian stuff on social media, not break the speed limit, not rob a bank in your lifetime, etc. But in those moments where you battle the flesh, and you can’t see a reason for not giving over to those fleshly desires, you are showing that something else is amiss in your heart. What is God’s purpose for your life? It is to be blameless. Why? Because you bear His image. You declare His awesomeness–in the very nature of how He created you–to the world around you. When you desire to live contrary to that nature, to that design, to that intention of His plan, you show something about your self.
You are living for your own will.
Romans 12:1 makes it clear. Christians are called to sacrifice their entire life for the Lord. Self-will must die. Selfish plans must wither. Self-aims must fade away. Yes Christ has taken on your sin and has wiped your account clean, as well as credited your account with His own righteousness. But this is not a license to live however we desire. We were meant to live another way. We were meant to live blameless lives. Therefore, even though we *could* keep sinning and not be in jeopardy of losing our eternal reward, the life of the believer should be a life that aims at being blameless.
Would you like to look at a few more passages that use the word blameless? Here’s a starter list. It would make a great plan for your devotions. Studying this idea will “renew” your mind in the way Paul talks about in Ephesians 4.
Keep studying God’s word!
- Ephesians 5:27
- Philippians 2:15 (“blameless” and “blemish” are related Greek words here, both referring to the idea we discussed. NASB translates this “above reproach” here)
- Colossians 1:22
- 1 Peter 1:19 (of Christ’s blood; “blemish” in this verse)
- 2 Peter 3:14 (“blemish” in this verse)