Ephesians 2:1-7. 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. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Do any of us really understand the transaction that has taken place in our lives in order to make us alive in Christ Jesus? Do we really understand what had to happen for our union with Christ to become reality? Do we have any grasp on the perplexity of grace? Do we have any clue just how amazing it really is? Do we truly appreciate our new status?
And that may be in part because we don’t fully recognize where we came from.
For us to fully appreciate our salvation, our union, our redemption, we have to first appreciate the bottomless pit in which we once lived.
Before Jesus we were literally the “Walking Dead.” Dead in our trespasses and sins. Completely incapable of any form of self-salvation. Dead due to trespasses – our active rebellion. And dead due to our sins – our passive failures. No hope. Condemned. Guilty. Zombified.
Before union with Christ…zombie life.
Not just dead, but also deceived. Tricked. Drawn away from God 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.
We were driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street headed toward a cliff with a bomb strapped to our car. We weren’t just wandering, we were following. Actively chasing after the world and the Satan – the prince of the power of the air. We were enemies. We were on the wrong team. We were trying to thwart God. Whether you were saved out of drug addiction or out of religious self-righteousness doesn’t matter. You had bought into the system of this world, this “age.” A system created and propagated by the Devil. The system he’s been selling since day one – wisdom without the fear of the Lord.
You bought into it just like Eve and just like Adam. In fact you were born into it like the rest of mankind. Anti-God was your nature. Left to your own devices you would grow into a world class God hater, with the great irony being that you would probably be a pretty nice person. A nice person who was actually forever far from God’s grace. Because it’s not about nice. It’s not about who is good and who is evil. It’s about who trusts the grace of God by faith (2:8-9). Paul says we used to live from the passions of our flesh carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. So sexual promiscuity, lying, stealing? Maybe. But also the works that we thought could earn us salvation (v.9). It’s all the passions of the flesh. Be bad or be good – both are fleshly. Neither is grace.
All of this left you as a child of God’s wrath. You would never inherit God and God would never inherit you, that’s for sure. Your destiny was the wrathful love of God. His settled opposition to all that is evil. His love is so pure and his grace so glorious that it would destroy anything that opposes it. This is what each of us deserved. This was where each of us was headed.
But God (part 2 tomorrow).
“To live is Christ” must never be taken for granted or minimized or trivialized. It is the result of an act of God beyond compare. The dead made alive. The enemy made a friend. The distant brought close. The old made new. This union with Christ is truly a miracle of God’s grace and power. A miracle that, the more we understand it, will produce a greater and greater experience of God’s gracious work in our lives.