2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
(Ephesians 2:1-5 NIV)
The Apostle Paul has just finished talking about Christ, and has given us a whirlwind tour of God’s plan for the ages, from eternity past, to eternity future. Now Paul turns the corner and talks about the Ephesians (and us).
Paul cuts straight to the point, when he says that we were dead – dead in our transgressions and sins. Not sick, not dying, not on life support, but dead. He goes on to remind us that is how we lived before we came to Christ – spiritually dead.
Sounds like some kind of B-grade, Hollywood zombie apocalypse movie or TV show, doesn’t it?
Paul continues on, putting himself under the same condemnation, saying that we all lived like this at some time. It’s the sin nature in us – just doing what sinners do – feeding our own selfish interests.
Paul reminds us that we deserved what we got – by our very nature we deserved God’s wrath. And why is that? Because God is a holy God – he cannot allow sin in His presence. And God is a jealous God – He wants our full attention, our hearts.
Starting in verse 4, Paul contrasts our sorry state with God’s amazing character. In verses 4 and 5, we see three attributes of God’s character:
- Love – first and foremost, God loves us, more than we will ever comprehend
- Mercy – because of His love for us, God extends compassion to us, even when we don’t deserve it
- Grace – because of His love for us, God, in His grace, saves us from our sins
Remember when Paul talked about God’s incredible power in chapter one? God’s power was able to raise Christ from the dead – not just spiritually, like some kind of ghost, but physically, with a new body. Paul tells us that same power is able to make us alive spiritually, even from our spiritually dead condition.
This transformation is not something that we can do on our own. In fact, there is nothing that we can do to bring it about. Paul reminds us that it is by God’s grace alone that we are saved, that we are offered new life.
What’s the one thing a dead person needs most? a funeral? a coffin? family and friends to remember them? No! Those are all good things, but the most important thing a dead person needs is life. And that is what Christ offers us.
So we see that we are saved from sin (spiritual death), by love (Christ’s love for us), into life (from death). That’s enough to celebrate if we stop right there!
As the cheesy TV infomercials say, “But wait! There’s more!!”. No, we don’t get a set of free Ginsu knives as a welcome gift when we come to Christ. We get so much more. We’ll take a look at “the rest of the story” tomorrow.
For today, find a way to celebrate the transformation Christ brings – from sin, by love, into life. May your day be filled with worship and praise for the Only One who can bring this about – Jesus Christ.