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Ephesians VI: Children of Wrath - Ephesians 2:1-3

What happened to Jesus happens to you when you put your faith in Him. In Ephesians 1, Paul proclaims four truths about Jesus: He was dead, He was raised from the dead, He was seated in the heavenly places, and He rules over all. The first ten verses of chapter 2 then explain how being united to Christ means that God’s power is working these same things in you. Ephesians 2:1 – you were dead; 2:5 – you were made alive; 2:6 – you were seated in the heavenlies; and 2:10 explains that where Christ’s present calling is to rule over all, your present calling in Christ is to walk in good works. The pattern is the same: Jesus and you, dead, raised, seated in heaven, working for the world’s good.

The first point, however, is nothing but bad news. Before Christ, we were dead in transgressions and sins, making our way through the world, following natural human urges and enslaved to fleshly passions, not just dabbling in sin or slipping into an occasional transgression, but walking daily in a full-on sins-and-transgressions lifestyle.

Whenever humans live as if God didn’t exist or didn’t matter, they are following the course of this world. All the “isms” that we see today, the lifestyle of those who don’t follow God – that’s the way the walking dead “live” – in secularism, relativism, materialism, consumerism, racism, sexism, hedonism – all that we would call worldliness. Following the way of the world means that the walking dead are godless and worldly.

“Ah!” The dead man says, “I see the problem! If only the world weren’t so worldly! If only I had a different environment or better examples, then I could really live!” But this brings us to the next point: those who are dead in sin don’t just go the way of the world; they are also following “the prince of the power of the air”. You don’t just have a corrupt environment; you have a cruel enemy, a deceiver who keep your soul enslaved to disobedience. Even if you try to escape from the world into the spiritual realm, there you would find the Devil leading you into disobedience, and that too is spiritual death.

And so here the dead man wants to explain away his situation with the famous excuse: “The devil made me do it!” But Paul has more bad news: our spiritual deadness is not simply a result of external forces like the world and the devil. We carry death in our own flesh, and so we all once lived as sons of disobedience, because those external pressures were eagerly met with internal compulsions of the body and mind to live the sin-dead life. Without spiritual life, our bodily urges and mental rationalizations have no brakes, and they constantly take us over the cliff.

To make matters worse, this is the condition of every man by nature. There is no one who is alive; we are all dead. Paul is hinting briefly here in Ephesians at what he explains in greater detail in Romans: all men, both Jew and Gentile, are enslaved by sin as a result of Adam’s trespass back in the garden of Eden. We are dead by nature because we are all sons of the Disobedient One.

The final phrase that describes us is the worst of all: because of sin, we are children of wrath. Every single one of us has incurred God’s righteous wrath, beginning with death as the wages of our sin, but in the end, we can’t even escape the human condition at death, because after death comes the judgment of God.

Our death is comprehensive: a change of time or place or environment can’t save us, deliverance from Satan’s influence can’t save us, transcending our bodies can’t save us, information and education can’t save us, we cannot look forward to a wrathless oblivion, and there is no one among all of mankind who can be of any help, because we are all in the same situation.

In our deadness, no one describes himself this way. Instead, we say things like: “I’m basically a good person.” “I do my best, and hope my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds.” “God understands; it’s just the way I am.” But the Word of God says that all of mankind is dead in their sins, deserving of God’s wrath.

Our comprehensive state of death requires a redemption that is just as comprehensive. And so in order to redeem us, Christ entered into this dark situation, and this status of “dead in trespasses and sins” was imputed to Jesus on the cross as He died in our place. This is the death He died, so that this would the death He was raised from! In the coming verses, what God does through Jesus will be applied to dead sinners in one of the most powerful, wonderful, glorious and majestic passages ever written by a human pen, as we are reminded again of the great good news of how God gives life to the dead.

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 by CJ Bowen