What follows is hard-core truth that we won't hear from anywhere but God's word.
1. You Were Dead (2:1-2a). “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…”
Paul comes out swinging and gets right to the point: Before the Ephesians were ‘in Christ’ they were ‘dead’ in sin. And as we learn in verse 3, this is true of ‘all.’ It is our common human ‘nature’ (v3) inherited from our first forefather Adam.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men… by a man came death…in Adam all die… Romans 5:12, 18; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, ESVSo we see that sin has infected all mankind, with the result that we are all born spiritually dead. This means we are ‘in a state of spiritual alienation from God’ (Duncan), and ‘dead in the sense that we cannot see or feel the glory of Christ; we are unresponsive to God and Christ and this word’ (Piper).
Blind to the glory of Jesus Christ and deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit. They have no love for God, no sensitive awareness of his personal reality, no leaping of their spirit towards him in the cry ‘Abba, Father,’ no longing for fellowship with his people. They are as unresponsive to him as a corpse.Our deadness to God doesn’t mean inactivity. Paul says we ‘walked’ in our sins. Like a zombie we were the walking dead, and unaware of our pitiful condition.
Not only does Paul teach that we were DEAD in our sin, but that we were also ENSLAVED from without and within. The picture gets worse! Far from being free to live our own lives outside of Christ, Scripture teaches that we are dominated by evil influences (O’Brien).
God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 (see also 1 John 5:19, 2 Cor 4:3-4)C. Enslaved To The Flesh. “- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind…” Not only are we enslaved outwardly by the devil and the evil world system, but we are also enslaved inwardly by our own passions and desires! We are our own enemy! We are selfish and pleasure-seeking, casting off restraint and refusing to bow to God. Rather, we live for pleasure and temporary happiness. “Gluttony, laziness, lust, greed; pride, malice, envy” (Boice). Paul says this slavery to the flesh is universal – ‘we all once lived’ this way.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36Dead, Enslaved and Condemned before God. No power to save ourselves. Nothing we can do to improve our condition. Total inability:
- No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44
- For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:7-8
- “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Rom 3:10b-12
- The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
This is not a popular message, or one that you will hear anywhere but the Word of God. But Paul clearly and boldly unfolds the truth about our condition outside of Christ. Why? To glorify God for his glorious salvation!
4. You Were Saved! (2:4-5). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…”
We were dead…and Christ made us alive (1 John 5:11).
- The Letter To The Ephesians; Peter T. O’Brien; ©1999; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI.
- The Message Of Ephesians – God’s New Society; John R. W. Stott; ©1979; InterVarsity Press, USA. Downers Grove, IL.
- Ephesians – An Expositional Commentary; James Montgomery Boice; ©1988, 1997; Baker Books. Grand Rapids, MI.
- Sermons by Ligon Duncan: http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/Ephesians/07a_ephesians_2.1_3.htm, http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/Ephesians/07b_ephesians_2.4_7.htm and http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/Ephesians/08a_ephesians%20_2.8_10.htm.
- Sermons by John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/but-god, http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/why-we-need-a-savior-captive-to-an-alien-power-by-nature-children-of-wrath, http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/why-we-need-a-savior-dead-in-sins and http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/why-do-we-need-to-be-born-again-part-1