Posted March 17, 2014
2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
We’re excited to be memorizing Ephesians 2:1-10 over the next four weeks. These verses are bedrock verses for the Christian faith: salvation is by grace through faith alone; it’s a gift of God and not our doing! While verses 4-10 are incredibly hopeful, verses 1-3 are hard to read. They issue an indictment of which none across the globe are exempt! Apart from Christ, every human being is both hopeless and helpless to save themselves. It’s an appropriate reminder, particularly for the season on Lent right now. Here’s a list of things Paul lists as true of every person before God's merciful rescue: dead, world-following, Satan-following, sons of disobedience, flesh-led, and children of wrath.
The Walking Dead
While very much alive physically, we were born dead spiritually. We love to think of ourselves as capable, not corpses. The Bible portrays our state in a much different light. We all needed the Giver of Life to resurrect us spiritually like He did physically for Lazarus. John Stott said, “We should not hesitate to reaffirm that a life without God (however physically fit and mentally alert the person may be) is a living death, and that those who live it are dead even while they are living.” At the end of the day, whose assessment of your state do you trust? Scripture or culture?
The World, The Devil, & The Flesh
Paul says we are under the sway of three forces: the world, the devil, and the flesh.
The world mentioned here is not simply culture itself, but rather all that is hostile and opposed to God. The present evil age works its thoughts into our hearts & minds in subtle ways, so we must be discerning. God has called us to be a people set apart, and part of that “set-apartedness” entails asking God for a judicious wisdom.
Not only are we affected by this evil age, but also by Satan himself described as the prince of the power of the air. R Kent Hughes comments, “As ‘the prince of the power of the air,’ he commands innumerable hosts in the unseen world and thus creates a spirit of the age, a cosmos diabolicus in which he knits just enough good with evil to achieve his purposes. This devil dominates and energizes the spiritually dead!” The devil is a real force at work in our world, and to ignore this would be to ignore Scripture’s testimony of his presence & influence.
Last, we are told we once lived in the passions of our flesh. Note the personal dimension Paul uses when he says “our flesh.” The two prior are forces outside us (the world and the devil), but now we are told that there is a force of evil within. This should not come as a shock if we believe that we are dead spiritually. We love to blame others for our sin and shortcomings. Many try to separate themselves from bad influences, only to realize that their own heart leads them astray as well. The truth is we need God to save us from ourselves! We are culpable and responsible for sinful actions carried out.
Hope to the dead comes next week in verse 4.
Song by Joel Limpic.
Production by Dustin Ragland.
Recording by Dustin Ragland & JD Raab.
Artwork by Chris Wright (of Hand Lettering Co.)