And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked … Ephesians 2:1-2
Having encouraged the Ephesian Christians by emphasizing the exceeding greatness of the power of God toward them, Paul then shows the church how this great power, which was exemplified in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, is working among them by the mighty change that God has effected in them via the new birth. All men outside of Christ are dead in trespasses and sins. Dead (nekros in Greek) has no other meaning than to be devoid of life – a corpse. Yet Paul describes these dead men as walking in sin, following after their own selfish lusts and desires. If they are dead, how is it that they walk? Are they zombies? Well not exactly, but dead does indeed mean dead, so how dead were we? Spiritually, all people apart from Christ are dead. Scripture tells us that the dead man’s understanding is darkened (Eph 4:18); a veil lies over his heart (2 Cor 3:15) so he cannot discern spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14); he lives a world of false ideologies (2 Thess 2:9-11), that is under the sway of the wicked one (1 Jn 5:19), where the truth of God is ridiculed (2 Pet 3:4), and he believes the philosophers of this world in their denial of Scripture (1 Cor 1:18). Ironically, such dead men are proud (Rom 1:18); they glory in their human intellect (Ro 1:22), but God’s assessment of him is that his foolish heart is hardened (1 Cor 3:18-20), and desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jer 17:9). He loves darkness (Jn 3:19), delights in his sin (Is 22:13) and the sin of others (Ro 1:32), and boasts in iniquity (Ja 4:16). Devoid of life, the man who is apart from Christ, hates God (Ro 1:30) and hates Christ (Jn 7:7) – he is God’s enemy (Ps 7:11) – a child of wrath (Eph 2:3).
In light of all this, can anyone say that believing the Gospel is so easy that anyone who decides to, while still dead, may do so? How is it that the beating of man’s natural heart is God knocking, so that all he must do is open the door of his heart of his own accord? How is this supposed to happen apart from a resurrection? Is it his darkened mind, desperately wicked heart, or wicked self-will that makes the decision to open his heart to Christ? You see the absurdity in this kind of ideology! There is but one answer: What is needed for a soul to come to Christ is the exceeding greatness of the power of God, as displayed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. Without such power, human beings are utterly helpless. This is what it means to be saved by grace (Eph 2:5).
If today you have an interest in the things of God; if you understand the Word of God; if there is a desire to know and love Christ – it is by the grace of God (and that alone) that is at work in you. The sequence of thought continuing from chapter 1 is clear: Jesus Christ was dead, but God raised and exalted Him, and you also were dead, but God raised and exalted you. Praise God for His matchless grace – for even when we were among the walking dead, He quickened us to life with Christ!
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