As I studied this section, I remembered back to when I was thirteen years old. There was a coal mining accident where I grew up and my scoutmaster and my assistant scoutmaster were both in the mining accident. My scoutmaster was injured and my assistant scoutmaster was killed. The family asked that our Boy Scout Troop would come and stand, Honor Guard over the casket. So we put on our uniforms and stood Honor Guard. This was my first time seeing death up close, and it stuck with me. So I had to stand there next to the casket knowing that that was the man that had been influential in my life but that he could not respond.
The Apostle Paul opens chapter two with a continuation of what he just said in chapter one. Paul spent the past few verses exalting Christ. In that exultation he says Christ is head of all things. Jesus is given as head of the church over all things, so Paul exalted Christ to the highest place. In the next sentence he reminds the Ephesians who they were before Christ, "you were dead in your trespasses and sins." He also says in Colossians chapter two "you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh." In Romans he talks about bearing the fruit of death in our bodies. Paul is making a very clear, that we were dead. Before we knew Christ, we were dead to God.
We are separated from God. Unable to respond to God before we knew Christ, and we were dead both actively and passively. First, actively from our sins. Second, Passively we were born in sin. We are born separated from God because of the sin of Adam. So both active and passive ideas of being separated are included in this deadness.
Death is separation. We do not exist, in our flesh, in the same realm, with God. He is in the realm of life, beauty, holiness, and eternity. We are in the realm of death, distortion, destruction, and hate. These are the things in which you formerly walked in the past. Now, they are perfected, they are no longer dead, but they all came from a state of death. They and we, came from a place of death into life. This is what Paul is doing, in this section, he is explaining that we need to remember our past. We need to be aware of what we were before. Not so that we feel guilt, because we are forgiven by Christ, so guilt is not where we should live emotionally. We are made holy and righteous which Paul describes in chapter one. That's not why we remember that we were dead. We are being reminded of this deadness to exalt Christ because he brought us from death to life. Paul wants to encourage us to remember that others are in that same state as we were. Jay Adams writes, "By nature, they are oriented away from God and toward self-serving interests. They walked according to the ways of the world (v. 2)" (Adams, 78). Paul reminds the Ephesians, and by extension us, that we were oriented away from God before He saved us.
We did not come to God and He just graciously accepted us. God graciously reached down to dead people and made them alive. So then the next thing he does in verse two, he reminds them. they formerly walked in the course of this world. The way you walk is how you're living. It is the method you use to get through life. BeforeGod, we used to live without God, actually opposite of God's direction. The Ephesians according to the course of this world, they walked in disobedience.
As I studied, this idea I came to realize there's a correlation between the deeds of the flesh and the character of Satan. One can see Satan at work in the deeds of the flesh Paul listed in Galatians five.
Also, we were by nature children of disobedience. We were children that followed the prince of of the power of the air. We acted as our fleshly selves, which were driven by Satan. as I thought about the evil I see int he world, I used to be part of that. Before Christ we were no better than the people that currently are not followers of Christ. We were the evil in the world. It does not mean that the people who are lost absolutely evil in their actions, but that they are part of the reign of darkness that currently exists today. The point is, sometimes we as Christians forget that when we see sin,that could be us. Instead of remembering, that was us. Paul is reminding the Ephesians of how they were before Christ.
In Colossians chapter three, he says that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience. He is reminding the Ephesian Christians of their connection with what they were before. He's reminding them to open their eyes, and remember what you were before you came to Christ. Then in verse three, "among them, we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh." Again, he's reiterating this, he's laying the groundwork for how they came to life.
You were destined for punishment, except for the grace of God. So he's laying this out in these three verses. You were dead. That's where you existed. And that's where God reached to give you life. He raised you from the dead, as Paul writes in Romans chapter eight. Paul writes, "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8). Again a reminder of what we were before Christ. It is so important for us to have compassion for those people that don't know Christ. We were lost, but for Christ.
Now, how does this truth apply? What do we do with this information? Okay, we're dead. So first the theological idea. We did not start the move to life. God granted us, the move toward life. Dead people do not respond, live people respond. So God started this salvific act. Our salvation is only dependent on God opening our hearts and opening our minds to the truth of the Gospel. So that's the theological idea that our salvation depends on God.
So the second thing the evil you see in the world, you were part of it. You were part of the evil that you see. And there is nothing in you that is special. There is nothing in you that set you apart other than Christ. God did it. God, saw an evil person and saved you. God was fully aware of who you were inside. Remember in chapter one, from the foundation of the world, from the beginning God selected us. But until we actually accepted that selection, we were part of that evil.
We all lived in the sin we see in others, when you see sin rampant in this world, remember that existed in your heart. We still struggle with indwelling sin, but you're forgiven of it now.
And then the last application here is the, we were heading toward punishment. Just like any other person who doesn't know Christ, we were on our way to punishment. Sin is not just a stat of being. It has consequences, ultimately eternal punishment.