Here's Sunday's recap in our current series in Ephesians called: Realigned.
Dead. Spiritually dead. Dead as in the-body-is-in-the-morgue kinda dead. No signs of life. Cold. Pale. Lifeless. Not even the a zombie’s twitch.
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.
Pretty cruel diagnosis of the human condition before Christ, isn’t it? These few verses really are quite offensive if you think about it. Expounding on these verses won't exactly attract the masses. That's why America's most popular TV pastors won't speak on this stuff.
You see, the general consensus in our culture is that by nature we are good people. We just need to tap into our “inner winner”. The “champion inside of us.” But the Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesian church the exact opposite idea. Paul says that we, by nature, we are diseased with sin. Adam and Eve were created good but sinned because of their disobedience to God. And that’s where your and my stories start. Our stories don’t start in perfection. They start in sin. We were born into sin. Our spirit inside of us was dead. Still. Pale. Cold. Our body?--Alive. Our soul?--Alive. Our spirit?--Dead.
DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SIN
To "trespass" is to do something that violates the law. To go someplace we shouldn't go. Steal a pen. Cheat on a test. Listen to Nickelback. You know, the garden variety kind of trespasses. We all fail here.
But sin means “to miss the mark”. To not do something we should have done. To fail to make a wrong--a right. We all fail here too. We all don't do things we should have done or stopped evil we should have stopped.
But no matter how much we tried to insulate ourselves from this sin, it didn’t work. It was already in us. We were born with it. Born to be sinfully wild.
DEAD IN 3 WAYS
1. Paul says we followed the course of the world (verse 2). Our worldviews were once primarily influenced by popular opinion. News headlines. Textbooks. Magazines. Advice from friends. TV shows, movies, and music. Instead of being “aligned in Christ”, we were aligned with the world and its values and worldview.
2. Paul says we followed the prince of the air, who is Satan. Now, the vast majority of us wouldn’t intentionally follow who Jesus calls the Father of lies and who others in the Bible refer to him as a murder, deceiver, accuser, tempter, and thief. Who would intentionally do that? He’s a prince alright! He has a personality. Volition. This is no impersonal, vague spirituality or Star Wars dark side force.
3. Paul says we followed the flesh. We followed our desires. We suppressed the truth of God and exchanged it for lies that feel and sound more politically correct. We would justify our sin and make it sound normal to do so. We’d condemn anyone or any book that would poke our god and mess with our fleshly desires.
And this is what we did before we knew Christ.
“By nature” we did these things. It seemed right to us. It was normal. It was politically correct in the court of public opinion. By nature we envied our neighbor’s house or car or husband or wife, or their season tickets or TV. By nature we tended to excuse people’s sin because “God created us that way.” According to Paul, we are by nature, born with a propensity for addiction. Born with a propensity for violence. Anger. Psychopathy. Dogs bark. Cats meow. They do what they do. Infants are born thinking “MINE” before they could say it. Watch your little nephews for two minutes and the sinful nature will be alive and well and on full display.
CHILDREN OF WRATH
Ok, so, this part isn’t very friendly either, but, follow me on this one. Because of our disease of sin, we sin. It’s the natural thing to do. And because we steal, cheat, lie, and envy, we are subject to judgment.
“But I can’t serve a God of judgment or anger or wrath!” Are you sure?
This past week I was moved to anger when I read about the Islamic terrorist group ISIS beheading 21 Egyptian Christians. I know unspeakable evil goes on in the world every day, but, somehow this act grieved me and angered me like never before. I’m sure it grieves and angers God. The act deserves God’s wrath. If God isn’t intensely moved to anger by murder, abuse, torture, and rape, then He’s not worth worshipping. God one day will make all things right. He won’t leave one thing uncovered or hidden. He is just and I’m thankful for that.
But we were deserving of God’s wrath for our sin and for breaking God’s loving laws. We were sinful, broken, rebellious, trespassers who couldn’t stop sinning because it was our nature…and we deserved judgment just like a speeder who gets nailed by the cops goes before a judge to receive his penalty for his wrongdoing.
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—
Let these two words rock your world and let them sink in: “But God…”. This is the gospel message wrapped up in two simple words. But God…..walked into the morgue, unzipped the body bag, bent down, and breathed on your cold, lifeless, pale face and said, “get up”. And your spirit, for the first time, gasped its first breath and breathed in the very breath of God.
The only way the Jesus and the cross becomes mind-blowingly beautiful is for Paul to remind us of our pre-Christ diagnosis: we were dead in our trespasses and sin. How astonishing the miracle of salvation in Christ becomes!
DON'T FALL BACK INTO OLD HABITS
So, check this: Paul made a habit of reminding the churches he started to live out their new identity and to not let their old identity creep back into them. Shadows of the world can influence our minds once again if we’re not IN CHRIST and following him daily. Shadows of our former self can follow the Prince (of Darkness) even though we don’t know it. Shadows of our former self can return in old fleshly habits. But this must not be. Jesus breathed life into us and changed us from the inside out…from dead to alive in Christ! Let us live out who we truly are IN CHRIST!
NorthCreek Church is a great place to learn about who you are in Christ! We’re all exploring. We’re all learning. We’re all growing. And normally that takes time. There’s grace here. We’re all invited to take the next step in our walk with God. If you’ve never made a conscientious decision to follow Jesus, this might be your time. Even right now. Simply pray (prayer is just talking and listening to God) and receive Him and He will breathe life into your spirit. If you are already a Christian, ask Him to enlighten you so that you will know Him better. Recommit your life with thanks for the life and spiritual blessings He has given you.
So, what’s your next step? Join us Sundays at 10am at NorthCreek for great music, great atmosphere, great people, and a great message that will help you grow in your faith in Jesus.