According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: ~Ephesians 1:4
The reason why God has blessed believers in Christ with every spiritual blessing in Christ is His own sovereign gracious choice. “He chose us (i.e., chose us out of the mass of mankind) in Him (i.e., in Christ) before the foundation of the world.” Before any world was created God had chosen you and me, chosen every one who in the coming ages should believe in Christ, and blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Every spiritual blessing was deeded to us and was at our disposal from all eternity in the past, and it shall be ours in actual possession to all eternity in the future.
This is the Bible doctrine of election, and a right glorious doctrine it is. I am glad that my blessedness roots in God’s choice of me and not in my choice of God. I knew a young man who was one night reading this verse in a translation that read, “God chose us in Him before the foundation of a world.” No sooner had he read these marvelous words than he spring from his chair, rushed to the window and threw it up, sat out on the window sill and shook his fist at the mighty stars and cried: “I got in before you.”
But God did not choose us to salvation irrespective of how we might live: he chose us “that we should be holy and without blemish.” This holiness and freedom from every blemish from which God has chose us was not merely in the sight of men, but “before Him,” i.e., before God. As far as our standing is concerned, we are already “holy and without blemish,” for we are identified with Christ and are fully justified in Him. Every perfection of character that belongs to Jesus Christ God imputes to us now (II Cor. 5:21; Acts 13:39; Phil. 3:9; Rom. 4:5; Rom. 3:24-26). We stand before God “in Him.” God looks at us through Him, but that is not all, God chose us, not merely that we might be perfect in our standing, “holy and without blemish,” in our standing, but He chose us that we might become in our actual condition and our personal characteristics, “holy and without blemish.”
And we shall be “holy and without blemish” in our actual condition and in our personal characters when God’s eternal choice of us has fully worked itself out (I John 3:1, 2; Eph. 5:27). All this positive holiness and negative freedom from blemish will be “in love”; for love is the sum and substance of true holiness (I Cor. 13, entire chapter; I John 4:8).
[This was written by R.A. Torrey for his regular column, “Daily Devotional Studies in the New Testament: For Individual Meditation and Family Worship,” published regularly in Biola’s magazine The King’s Business from 1915-1918. These comments on Ephesians have never been republished since their original appearance there in the June, 1918 issue.]