We looked at Ephesians Chapter 1:15-23, and Paul’s incredible prayer for the believers. The prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians was mostly a prayer that they should come to know the Lord more intimately. It was not just head knowledge but rather heart knowledge that he desired for them. I hope that you have used Paul’s example and encouragement to pray for one another in more specific ways. We know that Paul has been teaching the Ephesians primarily about the great riches that are their inheritance “in Christ”— things that believers have because of their salvation. These blessings have come to them because of any goodness or righteousness of their own, not because of any of their efforts, but simply because of their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. As adopted children of God through saving faith in Jesus Christ we are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ of all that He has. God’s grace to us in Christ is “infinite” in its ability to provide all that we need. And “God has lavished His grace upon us.” Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know “the riches of His grace.” Today, we are looking at Chapter 2:1-10, where Paul begins to describe the life of a non-believer—a life which each person is born into and which is only regenerated through receiving Jesus Christ as Savior. Paul describes for us the condition of sinful men apart from Jesus Christ. This description of unsaved humanity should encourage us to reach out and to share the gospel with people around us. Q: Have you ever shared your faith in Christ with a non-believer? The Ephesians were dead in their trespasses and sins (vv1-2)
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”
The world’s philosophy wants us to believe that mankind in its basic nature is good. This is the basis of “humanism.” Given the right circumstances, and education men and women will choose to do good and right, and we will have utopian societies. They think that, because God is a loving God, He could never condemn or judge anyone (except perhaps the most wicked). They want us to believe that men and women have the ability to lift themselves up, change their life and do anything that they want to do with their life. They can do good and be righteous before God, if they truly choose and desire to do so. The Bible strongly disagrees with all of this. The first thing that Paul tells the Ephesians about mankind, and themselves, is “you were dead.” Before coming to Jesus Christ for salvation they were all dead. The word ‘dead’ here does not refer to physical death, it refers to spiritual death. The Ephesians had been spiritually ‘dead.’ Q: What does the concept of death imply? Being spiritually dead, non-believers are not capable of searching after God or having a spiritual sensitivity to the Lord. They are lifeless, with spiritual rigor mortis. Paul wrote about the condition of people in this world in Romans 3:10-17 as being spiritually dead,
“10 as it is written, There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. 13 Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving, The poison of asps is under their lips; 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 Destruction and misery are in their paths, 17 And the path of peace they have not known.
Since all people are spiritually dead and incapable of seeking God, if anyone does come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior it is only because the Lord has miraculously given them the ability to respond to Him and has spiritually regenerated them to new life. Paul writes that we were all dead ‘in trespasses and sins.’ The Greek word translated ‘trespasses’ is paroptoma, and is found 23 times in the New Testament. It means “to push away from or deviate from truth and righteousness.” The people in this world in their natural state apart from Jesus Christ tend to push away or deviate from the truth and the commandments of God. Unsaved people redefine right and wrong and they become, in effect, their own god. They tend to believe that if there is a God that He isn’t interested in the specifics of keeping His commandments. His commandments are looked at as being optional. The Greek word translated ‘sins’ is hamartia, a word that is found 172 times in the New Testament. It was a word originally used in archery for “missing the target,” and it was used by the early church to refer to sin, which is “missing of the target” of God’s righteousness. Paul is inferring that there is a standard of righteousness by which God judges mankind, and that when we miss this mark we have committed a sinful offense against a holy God. Paul tells the Ephesians that they were dead in their trespasses and sins, ‘in which you formerly walked.’ The word ‘walked’ indicates the manner in which they lived their lives. They were doing certain things and exhibiting a certain kind of behavior. The doctrine of “Original Sin” is here referred to by Paul. This is the doctrine that teaches that all of us as human beings have inherited a sinful nature from Adam who is our federal head and that when he sinned we were in him and therefore sinned also. We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. Sin is in our nature, a fallen nature. From the moment of conception all mankind is dead, spiritually dead, and they continue in trespasses and sins. David had a remarkable insight into this when he wrote Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” The Ephesians are sinners with an inherited sinful nature, and they are dead in trespasses and sins. And they have been walking according to two different influences in their life: The “course of this world.”
There is a world system here that is in rebellion against the Lord. Christians are warned in several places in scripture to beware of the influence of this world in our life. In 1 John 2:15-17,
“15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
The "prince of the power of the air." Unsaved people may think that they are free to do whatever they want to do and that they make all of their own choices however the scriptures tell us that mankind is blinded to the truth and that their wills are in bondage to Satan. Apart from Christ, people cannot choose to do good, even if they seem to want to do so. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 Paul wrote about how the Devil has blinded the minds of all of those who do not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ,
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
When people rebel against the Lord and walk in sin they are being compelled to do so by wicked spirits in the spiritual realm, and yet they have no idea that they are really being controlled to do these things. 1 John 5:19, tells us, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” The world is where he has his influence over mankind. Paul writes here, ‘the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.’ Paul indicates the fact that the Devil is working in the lives of the unbelieving. Notice what Paul calls all of those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior: ‘sons of disobedience.’ Paul says that all of us once lived this sort of life that he has described so far in this chapter, and we have lived in and indulged the lusts of the flesh and of the mind (v3)
‘3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.’
Paul is saying that we ‘all’ were like the men he has just described in the first two verses. He uses this Greek word sarx for our desire to rebel against the Lord and His will for our lives. The word is used 151 times in the New Testament. There are two types of lusts that Paul states that the people of this world living apart from Jesus Christ indulge: The "lusts of the flesh." Paul speaks of the evil sinful nature within us. He is saying that in every person’s life there once was a time when he was giving in to this sinful nature and its desires in his life. The one who is a non-believer lives every single day of his/her life being dominated by the flesh, even though they might try to cover this fact up and make themselves look good on the outside. Paul describes in Gal. 5:19-21 the life of a person when he/she is allowing the ‘flesh’ to dominate,
“19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The "lusts of the mind." Paul also writes here that the people in this world have their lives also dominated by the lusts of ‘the mind,’ the sins that affect in particular our thought life and heart attitudes. Pride, jealousy, envy, hatred, anger, greed, hypocrisy, for instance, are sins that originate in ‘the mind.’ Many times in the church sins of the flesh such as immorality, adultery, stealing, etc. are looked at as being horrible and yet there is a tolerance for sins of ‘the mind.’ Paul calls all people without Jesus Christ ‘children of wrath.’ Every single person before coming to Christ was under the ‘wrath’ of God because of their very ‘nature’ and the sinful acts that they were continually committing. People today don’t want to hear that God is a God of ‘wrath.’ Many today say that God cannot be a God of love if He also is wrathful. Yet, Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. Paul also keeps us aware of God’s wrath.
Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”
God’s wrath is not like the wrath of man. Man’s wrath arises quickly and is often unjust and carried out rashly. However, God’s wrath is constant and controlled against all of those who are living their lives in rebellion against Him. God’s wrath is always a justified wrath, a righteous anger. You cannot understand the gospel, much less God’s love, grace, and mercy, unless you understand first His wrath. God is a God of justice and wrath. Sin has to be judged. His love is incredible, He is willing to send His only begotten Son to suffer crucifixion to pay the price for our sins which each of us deserved to pay. Without understanding God’s wrath, Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary was a horrible injustice and completely unnecessary. Either you believe the Scriptures or you do not, and it is clear to all who are willing to take an honest look that God is a God of justice and wrath, as well as a God of love. Paul says that God, because of His love for man, made us alive together with Christ (vv4-5)
“4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”
God’s solution to mankind’s condition was to make those who are willing to respond to Him through Christ, ‘alive together with Christ.’ This act by God in our lives is called regeneration, or what Jesus referred to as being “born again.” This phrase ‘alive together with Christ’ also refers to the fact that everything that God’s has done in our lives as Christians to resurrect and redeem us has come about because of our identification with Christ. When He was nailed to the cross and died, we died with Him, we died to our old sinful nature we inherited from Adam. When Jesus Christ was raised up from the dead, we too were raised up with Him and made to walk in the newness of life. These are facts that are true of us now, if we have truly been saved. In Rom. 6:3-12, Paul wrote about this mysterious identification with Christ that all believers have. Whereas Adam had been our federal head before coming to salvation through Christ, now Jesus Christ is our federal head. Having inherited a sinful nature and condition from Adam our first federal head, we have now inherited everything we have “in Christ” through Jesus Christ, our new federal head. This is our identification with Jesus Christ. Though God has left the remnants of a sinful nature within each of us as Christians, that which Paul refers to as “the old man,” this sin nature is no longer our essential nature if we are “in Christ.” Our essential nature is that of Christ’s nature with whom we are identified, and “in Christ” through our identification with Him we have received: A new nature – and we are now “new creatures” in Christ. 2 Cor. 5:17, “17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, all things have become new.” A new heart Ezekiel 11:19, “19 “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” A new mind 1 Corinthians 2:16, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” A new will Romans 6:12, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.” And God’s motive was His own love. How incredible it is to know a God who is love! Paul tells us that God the Father has raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenlies (v6)
“6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”
Not only have we died with Christ and been made alive together with Him, we have been ‘raised up with Him,’ and we have been ‘seated’ with Him. Again, we are resurrected with him. The concept of being ‘seated’ involves primarily “rest,” especially in our context here. After His resurrection from the dead when Jesus ascended up to heaven, God the Father caused Him to be ‘seated’ at His right hand. Jesus’ work was done, so He could now rest. Paul says yet again that these things are true of us because we are ‘in Christ Jesus.’ Paul tells us that the reason that God has done these incredible things is so that ‘in the ages to come’ He might reveal the ‘surpassing riches of His grace’ (v7)
“7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Paul tells us God’s overriding motivation for saving us through His grace, saying that these things God has done in our lives in order that through all time He might show or display ‘the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.’ Sin is always rebellion and utter disregard for the Lord. Whenever we sin, we sin against God, just as the Devil’s sin was sin against God. Because all sin is against God, sin is a horrible and contemptible act. Whenever a person comes to know and live for the Lord they reveal the riches of the glory of His grace to all. Again, this is one of God’s overriding motives for the things He does in our lives as Christians. Paul tells us that we have been saved by grace through faith, as a gift from God, not because of any works that we commit (vv8-9)
“8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Paul tells us then that when our ‘faith’ is combined with God’s ‘grace’ that we are ‘saved.’ We have deserved none of the things that the Lord has done for us in providing the means for us to have our sins forgiven, be justified, and inherit eternal life, and yet, all this has come about because of God’s ‘grace.’ We must place our faith in the Lord and Jesus Christ and His completed work on Calvary. Dying in our place, He paid the full debt of our sin to God. If we place our faith here, then we have come to salvation. Christianity is not primarily about learning rules or trying to do good works, it is about a personal relationship with God that we can have through Jesus Christ. Without this personal relationship, you won’t even understand the Scriptures—you can’t understand them. Since this salvation we have received cannot be earned by a single thing that we would ever do, then no one can boast of having earned or gained salvation. When a person receives Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, only the Lord can get the praise and glory, for salvation is an incredible work in our lives performed only by the Lord Himself.
Q: Is there a time when you were able to recognize God’s grace in saving you? Q: Have you trusted in Jesus, resulting in a changed life? Paul tells us that though we were not saved by our works that none-the-less we were ‘created in Christ Jesus for good works’ (v10)
10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Speaking of the regeneration of a believer in Christ, Paul says that each one of us were ‘created in Christ Jesus.’ Those of us who are Christians are twice created beings. Although good works can never bring a person to salvation , it is never-the-less the case that God has created and called us to be people who commit ‘good works.’ We are called to live a life that is of ‘good works.’ Paul says that we are ‘His workmanship,’ a project of His own creation. God has poured out His love, mercy, and grace in humble vessels and sculpted us down into a piece of art that He can display to all creatures as being a revelation of His greatness and glory. God was working to prepare us for the work that He wants to do in and through us so that we can display the work of the Master craftsman of all, God Himself. CONCLUSION Q: As we consider our condition that we were in, apart from Jesus Christ, how can we not marvel at the glory of God’s grace? Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home. The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures; He will my Shield and Portion be, As long as life endures. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess, within the veil, A life of joy and peace. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, The sun forbear to shine; But God, who called me here below, Will be forever mine. When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun. Conclusion As we consider how that we are saved by grace through faith, and not as a result of works or anything of ourselves, we need to give up trying to deserve or work for what God declares He has already done in our lives. We are ‘His workmanship.’ Let your life shine in all of the glory that God intended for it to shine as ‘His workmanship.’ Display God’s work of grace in your life everywhere you go! Pray this for one another. Desire this in your own life—a thirst and a passion for Christ.
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