Wanted Dead or Alive (Ephesians 2:1-10)
In India paramedics took a man to the morgue after he suffered a heart attack. However, the man was simply unconscious and not dead, and once at the morgue, the gentleman revived and sat up. One of the paramedics, however, died of a heart attack.
This story strikes us as odd because there is a huge difference between life and death.
In this passage, Paul outlines the difference between spiritual death and spiritual life. Which are you—are you dead or alive?
Dead, vv 1-3
Before conversion, individuals are dead “in trespasses and sin.” There is not much difference between “trespasses” and “sin”—Both are rebellion against God.
The point is that sin causes spiritual death. When sin is full-grown, it brings forth death (Js 1:15). If we live in sin, we are spiritually dead.
It is these sins and trespasses that in which Christians once walked. Trespasses and sins were a way of life. Their lives were totally alienated from God.
Sinners live in sin “according to the course of this world.” “Course and “world” both mean world. “Course” refers to “time,” and “world” refers to “sphere,” “space.”
Paul’s point here is that society is totally alienated from God. Our society is totally alienated from God. Current headlines show that this society is alienated from God. This is the society that these sinners “followed”—they simply did what everyone else was doing.
Sinners follow the “prince of the power of the air.” “Prince” really means “ruler.”
This prince obviously refers to Satan. Although these sinners had attempted to do what they wanted, they really had followed Satan. We cannot totally be free, either we follow God, or we follow Satan.
Satan is the spirit who works in the disobedient. In contrast to the promised Holy Spirit spoke of throughout Ephesians, Satan is an evil spirit.
This evil spirit is active—he is at work. Some believe that Satan isn’t active—that he is just a myth. Satan is not a myth; he is active and working. “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour” (1 Pet 5:8).
He works among the sons of disobedience. “Sons of disobedience” are those who have given themselves over to disobedience. Satan works in them.
We all once lived this way. “I have already charged that al men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin” (Rom 3:9).
When we were in sin, we lived in the passions of the flesh. These passions are described as the lusts of the flesh and of the mind. Lusts of the flesh would refer to our physical desires apart from God. Lusts of the mind would refer to mental desires apart from God, evil thinking, etc.
We were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. “Children of wrath” refers to individuals upon whom God’s wrath would rest. Sinners are destined for God’s wrath. This does not mean that God destined certain individuals for destruction. What this does mean is that through their actions they have destined themselves for destruction.
Are you dead?
Alive, vv 4-10
God is the One who made us alive.
Those who are dead are beyond human help—the only One who can help is God. God is rich in mercy. Mercy is God’s attribute which allows him to help the miserable. We were miserable—we were dead. Humans can’t raise the dead, but God can.
God is rich in mercy—God does not just possess mercy; his mercy overflows.
God loves us with great love. This great love caused God to do something—he made us alive together with Christ. God’s love caused him to act.
God made us alive together with Christ. He did this when we were dead in sin. He did this by his grace.
He raised us with Christ. He raised us to sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. He did this so that in the ages to come he might show his mercy toward us in Christ.
We have been saved by grace through faith.
Grace refers to God’s unmerited favor. Salvation by grace means that we do not deserve salvation. Even though we don’t deserve to be saved, God saves us anyway.
Although we are saved by grace, this salvation comes through faith. The Bible nowhere teaches that God just saves people regardless of what they do. in order to be saved, we must have faith.
Salvation is God’s gift. Salvation, therefore, is not of works. Therefore, we dare not boast about our salvation.
We have been created for good works. Some pretend as though this text teaches that one needs to do nothing to be saved. Yet, this very passage teaches us that we were created for good works. God intended that we should walk in these good works—He expects this to be our way of life.
Are you alive?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.