And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
Verse 1 gives a description of man’s state. Paul is describing the natural sate of man. Notice the word “you”. One would not think that Paul would use the word you to the people of the church of Ephesus after writing such nice things about them in chapter 1. Are they not the saints of verse one in chapter one? Are they not the blessed in every spiritual blessing? Are they not the ones chosen in Christ? Are they not the ones predestined to adoption? So why does Paul say they are dead in their trespasses and sin. Let us look at these three key words, dead, trespasses, and sin and see if their meaning can shed some light.
The word dead comes from the Greek word, nekros and has an English derivative of necromancy which brings the word to mean in a spiritual sense. This could mean that they were spiritually dead.
Trespasses mean a lapse from the standard. It is only a mild infringement of wrong doing out of ignorance. Perhaps straying onto someone’s property unknowingly, or picking up something that is not yours by accident. It generally does not call for a major punishment of sort. It is interesting that used here it might mean that even the least of violation of God’s law makes us guilty.
The word used for sin is hyamartia, its meaning is missed the mark. Think of an arrow that is shot at a target but comes nowhere close. Or a life that God has a purpose and meaning for but has used its energy and resource to accomplish something different from its purpose.
Paul here is not addressing our physical lives. This is proven by the following verse. He is speaking of the same sin that caused Adam to fall in the garden. God could have ended Adam’s physical life right then but chose to let Adam and man live in this world for a short time. This pause before judgment is a period of grace. We are all burdened by the sin of Adam and are born with the sin nature that he allowed to enter into his life by that first sin.
Before the fall into sin by Adam he was in complete spiritual communication with God. As a result of sin man has lost that communication with God for man is no longer righteous. Spiritual death then speaks of a lack of communication with God. Because we have inherited and committed trespasses and sin, we are cut off from God and therefore spiritually dead.
Apart from spiritual life offered by God’s Son Jesus all of mankind is spiritually dead from the lack of communication with God. It is not pleasant to see a physically dead body. The same feeling should hold true to a spiritually dead soul. People’s ability to think all is well outside of a right relationship with God is proof that they are blinded and living in the darkness of this world. Spiritually dead people are unconscious to what is good, right, and normal.
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 picture in this verse is not pleasing and most people may find it offensive. Most people like to think that God chose them because they are basically good people. They are lovable, charitable, try hard, attend church, put their money into the offering plate, and call themselves Christians. This is a misconception of the modern world we live in. They think they are alive when actually they remain spiritually dead. Being spiritually dead means that none of us on our own cannot break back into life. We do not have the insight, wisdom, affection, will or power to connect to God. This is the opposite of what modern religion teaches today including humanism. They believe there is a residing essence of life in every man.
Can a dead man be partly dead? There is no way a dead man can decide he wants to be alive again and then by his own self will become alive.
This is the natural state of man. Everyone is condemned to a life without God. We have no way of bringing life back; we cannot reconnect ourselves to God. We are miserable, devoid of spiritual life, and live our lives without God’s special touch.
Paul now describes the world we live in. Carnal man is not willing to accept that there is a spiritual world. There is a spiritual world network that has an effect on the people that are caught in it. Some people cannot accept the description Paul gives of the world in verse 2. They will not accept the testimony of scripture, Jesus or the apostles. They believe the stories of Satan, demons are nothing more than fairy tales. Carnal man is overly bold in denying the truth of an evil one.
Man today looks to governments and world leaders to solve the issues of unequal distribution of wealth, and global warming. They look to institutions like the United Nations to solve the discord in the world. Sin for today’s people is not being tolerant or not focusing on our own potential.
We are in this world and too many of us are very comfortable with it. Apart from Christ this world is our home. We must remember that as we are in the world we are not of this world.
We must not ever forget that those who are of this world are under the rule of the prince of power of the air. We also must not forget whose government we are under rule of, God Almighty.
The way the world reveals the darkness that lay within is revealed to us with great deception. Explain how a country like ours, the United States, can have citizens who abhor the death of 3,000 solders but think nothing of defending the rights of millions of children slaughtered at the altar of abortion clinics.
Take notice of the one who came from Heaven, Jesus, and the one who fell from Heaven, Satan. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) The greatest deceit of Satan is to cause man to think there is no spiritual aspect to this world.
Paul also states that the evil spirit is working in the sons of disobedience. Is Paul saying that we are possessed by demons? Consider the title of the evil one here, the prince of the air. Consider how air works in our bodies. Air flows in and out of our bodies and without it we would surly die. The oxygen in the air is absorbed by each and every cell in our body. The prince of the air works in the same way in those who disobey the gospel of Jesus Christ. He enters in and out of their body and influences every aspect of their life. They are under his influence and they do not even know it.
Paul is describing the state of the world in order to make a point that if we are not in the undeserved love and power of Jesus Christ we would be rightfully condemned along with the world. Jesus says it clearly that those who do not follow Him are of the devil. “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
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 now turns to the condition of man’s heart. Paul is straightforward in his description in order that no one be deceived. The self-righteous are more likely to deceive themselves than others. Paul was like this before his conversion. Paul is trying to bust their puffed up egos. It is so easy to examine someone else than it is to examine ourselves in complete honesty in view of God’s perspective. Paul had no doubt rehearsed this many times on himself. Facing the truth like light shatters the darkness with all its lies.
Not one has lived completely separated for the lust of the flesh. We were all polluted streams infecting the flowing streams next to us. If we subjectively see some people as innocent we must allow the truth of God to shape our opinion.
While all have lusts some express this lust more openly than others. Without the restraints of family, religion and law all of us would express our lust more openly. A parent’s discipline does not remove these desires but keeps them from developing and expressing themselves to the point that they dominate their lives.
We are no better than those who openly express sinful desires before God than another. Because of our training we might think we are better than those who practice such things but we still operate naturally from a sinful heart.
The world offers this excuse, “I feel like it”. Those feelings are very often of the same as the lust of our desires. “I would rather watch a movie than pick up my room, as mother had told me to do.” “I wish I was like her. I see how the boys look at her.” These are self focused thoughts of wanting to gain more attention to our self than another. Children and adults alike have them and just because they are more obvious in some than others does not mean we are not just as guilty.
This passage also states that operating with these lustful desires is something that does not describe God’s people. We must not only say that we are living in the righteousness of Jesus but that say that Christ living through us produces righteous living. Our righteousness will not save us because our life as a whole has sin. But surely today our righteous lives is proof that Jesus lives within us. Hebrews 12:14 tells us, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”
This does not mean that a follower of Jesus will not sin. But now sin is not natural for us and we hate sin in our lives. It is not pleasant when we give in but we stand back up and continue the battle against sin in our life. We also learn we will gain the victory when we call upon the name of the Lord.
The desires of the flesh and of the mind are two different points of attack that Satan can use.
First our sinful nature called the flesh, our sinful nature that feeds the desires of our flesh. More than often they focus on the desires to feed our bodies and appetites. God has given us these desires but to employ them beyond reason so that we live for them is evil.
Second are our desires of the mind. They are the thoughts that go through our minds. They are the plots to get what we want. The question is what we are willing to compromise or risk in order to get these things. What we want becomes so important that we do things that are not moral. Cheating, stealing, and denying our calling to be as God made us male or female. Abortion, take drugs or drunkenness, and lying in order to get what we want.
Our hope is that scripture will shape the way we think. We talk about God’s love. Paul talks about God’s love as it is revealed through Jesus Christ. Paul also speaks of God’s wrath. God has always been just and will bring judgment upon those who have and continue to rebel against his will and purpose for their lives.
There are two groups of people in this world, those who are saved and those who are not. Paul has gone back to the point that at a time in our life we were not amongst the saved. This put everyone into one group, the lost who are in the bowl of God’s wrath.
This is our nature without change. We were born under the wrath of God because of our sin nature. We cannot understand salvation until we understand God’s judgment. We cannot understand God’s love until we understand God’s wrath. We have all gone astray but God through His grace sent His Son who will save many from God’s judgment.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
There are six different things we need to look at in this verse. First we are saved by grace. Grace is the underserved favor of God towards man. While God’s great mercy holds back the wrath of God that man deserves, grace is an extension of God goodness that in no way man is worthy of. Looking back to verses 1-3 we are reminded of man position in this world. One, from the fall in the garden he is spiritually dead, or out of communion with God. Second, that loss of intimate communion with God has put man under the influence of the evil one. Third, man cannot separate himself from the desires of the flesh. This portrait of mankind is fitting to each one of us. Though we see ourselves as good the righteous eye of God sees us very differently. Until we understand how corrupt we are then we will not fully appreciate the goodness of God. Grace only touches our hearts when we realize we are totally unfit to receive God’s kindness. It is then we see that we do not deserve God’s kindness, it is not our right to obtain it, and the only thing we deserve from God is His wrath.
A second characteristic is that faith is instrumental in one’s salvation. Without faith there is no salvation. We cannot think that Christ died for the general good of all mankind. Some Christians think that faith is a measuring mark to gain salvation. They think because I believe I am saved but this is in opposition to what this verse says. Faith is necessary for our salvation but our spiritually inclined nature to respond in faith is not what saves us. We are not awarded salvation due to our faith. It is quite clear from the context of this chapter that there is nothing that man can do to save himself or make himself worthy of salvation. Even a good, religious person cannot muster enough faith to save themselves. Those who believe they have been awarded salvation due to their faith have placed their confidence in their faith rather than in Christ Jesus. Faith should not be understood as a qualification but as a gift from God which brought about a new life. We cannot contribute anything towards our salvation not even a more sensitive spiritual heart. God sees us as spiritually dead and shows us His grace through faith. He awakens us with His Spirit and enables us to see what we never saw before. We are not aware of the sin in our life until God reveals it to us. Repentance then is the first sign of this newly given faith. Faith is the result of the newly given life that He has given us. Without His work in us we have no way to respond just as a dead person cannot respond to light or sound. With Him, we start to see and respond to Him.
Third, it is not of ourselves. All of our goodness, upright character, obedience to our parents, church attendance and service, all of these good things placed together would not contribute anything to our salvation. God’s Grace is unmerited favor from God, meaning it is because there is nothing we can do to receive it.
Forth, it is a gift from God. God’s grace has saved us through faith, and it is a gift from God. Salvation falls on those who have no salvation or any hope for salvation. We were once like this in knowing that we were in a bad position because of the sin in our lives and knowing there was no way to escape the penalty for that sin. There was no way to achieve salvation. How much more then we appreciate the work of His Son Jesus on the cross and that God gives us by His grace the gift of salvation.
Fifth, our salvation is not of our good works. Again there is nothing we can do to earn our way into Heaven.
Sixth, is that no one should boast. It is God’s purpose to lay a good foundation for our salvation. If salvation was something that we could bring about ourselves then when the storms of life come upon us it would fail, as we often do. If the foundation of our salvation is built of the rock of Jesus Christ, who was, is, and shall always be, and then when the storms of life come our salvation will stand. It is upon the solid rock we stand not upon our self but upon the power and authority of Jesus. There is no power greater than the Word of God, and if our future was built on anything less it would fail. So that we may not boast for our salvation is by the grace of God through faith.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The second “for” is used here in the tenth verse. The first “for” in verse eight was used to describe God’s purpose for designing His salvation plan. His salvation plan is to shown us His marvelous Grace. God not only wants to show the marvels of salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ but also show us what happens after salvation.
Religious people often are confused by good works. They believe they are saved by good works. God clearly says that it is not by good works that we are saved. Some churches and big institutions claiming the name of Jesus Christ become false Christ’s. They tell you to believe in their institution rather than believe in Jesus Christ. They tell us to believe in baptism rather in Jesus Christ through whom we are baptized. The evil one uses these deceptive tactics to keep us away from the power of Jesus Christ.
We need then to know the proper place for good works. Good works cannot lead us to salvation, as this would put our confidence in ourselves. Good works follow our salvation so that they bear good fruit in God’s good works through us. Our new life does not only provide a faith to believe in Jesus for our salvation, but a faith to become what He wants in our lives.
In this way we see the power that He has given us. If we are saved, then we are saved to produce good works as Jesus did. Paul is also expressing the idea that we are raised up together with Jesus. Jesus is living through our lives in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is truth that having been saved though God’s grace through faith there should be no doubt that we are of His design. “For” we are His workmanship, like any craftsman, He has His purposes for making us.
God has shaped the background from which we have come. God has designed our personalities, our dreams, and our pimples. We may feel inferior but we are not, that would place in doubt the excellence of God’s workmanship. We might feel that there are imperfections in our design but we must look beyond those feelings and realize that God has made and equip us to fulfill to purpose for which we were made.
We should think less about we want and focus more on what God wants us to be. We can enjoy who we are in spite of our limitations. Yes life has placed its scars on us; we have a tendency to become sick, and in some of our abilities we do not perform as well as others. For once in our lives we can be content and confess all of our envy and discontent and free ourselves of it. We can find God’s peace through these truths that He will work in our lives. I am this way because He made me this way, I can accomplish whatever He wants for my life, I don’t have to be like anyone else, all I need to be is just myself, and God has chosen me to live out His glorious self through my life.
Whether we are young or old God will empower us to do that He has planned for our lives. Looking at our own possessions and capabilities should never hinder us from thinking about what He wants to do with our lives. Only seek His will for your life.
You are God’s workmanship designed to accomplish His plan and will for your life. Place your confidence in that truth and your life will be abundant.
If we are to focus on God’s will for our lives then the question comes to mind, what is God’s will for our life? We must point to the next phrase in this verse. Paul writes, “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” As the workmanship of God we were created in Jesus Christ. Therefore it is not by our own strength or will power that we accomplish His plan for us but the power and strength of Jesus living through us. God is ultimately speaking of our spiritual lives as we live our life here on earth.
Why does He make us? He made us for good works. Our good works are not just our good efforts but our willingness to let Jesus live out His life through us. As Jesus lives through our lives he wants to continue His work here as He did when He was here on earth. The Holy Spirit which lives in us is the same as Jesus living in us. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26) “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27)
Good works can be thought of in two categories. General works, we all are to love our neighbor. Specialized works are specific activities that only we can and will do.
In general works in our neighborhood it is important to let our neighbors understand that we stand of the rock of Jesus and follow him in our lives. Invite them to join us in learning more about Jesus and sharing our worship service with them. They may not respond but we have planted the seed. Most importantly we demonstrate the love of God by the testimony of living a Christ like life before them. Proverbs 12:26 says this, “The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Once they know who is Lord over our life they will be watching us. They may want to tear down our testimony of faith in Jesus, or they may want to learn if what we preach is truly how we live. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16 this, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
God planned the good works before us ahead of our birth into this world. God also planned the abilities that we would be born with to accomplish the good works for our life. Certainly then we can trust Him, as He planned our design then certainly He will equip us to accomplish His work.
We need not fear the battles with giants. If we are to fight a giant His grace is sufficient for us to win the victory. Our faith is in Him, His design, and His appointed work. We may not see how all our work fits together for Him, but He will give us the light to see at the appropriate time for our needed activities. Read Psalms 138:3 and Jeremiah 16:19.
A word of caution here is that as God has appointed us our work to do there still is the evil one who prowls about seeking to steal and destroy. We must always be ready to answer His call to do His good work through us. We must also remain strong in the study of His Word and the practice of His truths. We must keep ourselves in shape as His workman and ready to do His will.
We must be in training every day. Our day most certainly must begin in prayer. How could we face the uncertainty of a day without first asking for our daily bread? Are we sharing what the Lord has revealed to us with fellow believers, our neighbors, and those who we work with? These are basic things that work together to build up our confidence in how God can work in our lives. We should not forsake the small lessons in our life. David tended a flock of sheep before He guided a nation.
Keep firm in your faith, as God knows what your work is and will put your heart on them. We will face trials in our life. The believer and the unbeliever alike face trials. When we are in God’s will we know whatever comes will work for good. We trust Him and move forward, as endurance is good work. A joyful heart, sharing the gospel, training up the children, and picking up someone else’s trash without resentment, all are good works. Some we have been trained for and some we are being shaped for.
People in the world have all sorts of problems, desire all sorts of pleasurable excuses to avoid the truth, are given to violent means of accomplishment, and their God is that which they lust. This was the old way of live for us but now we are in a new life. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”
We have a new life and it is Jesus Christ living in and through us. In one sense life has not begun if we are not living in His purpose for our lives. Each of us has our whole lives planned out by God. God the creator of all has created an abundant life for us. That truth alone should make each us completely secure in our future. We must remain in our faith of God’s almighty purpose for our life that He has planned for us individually, for our families, and the church we attend, are not only thought of but must also be implemented. Our time in this world is so short and we must be busy in our Kingdom work. This is how we show our appreciation for the salvation that through His Son HE has given us. Let us glorify His name by joyfully taking up the appointed good work He has put in our path, and fear not for He will be with us.
Ephesians 1:7, Romans 3:24, Philippians 4:7, Colossians 1:21-22, Hebrews 10:19-20, Titus 1:2, John 14:6, John 10:10, John 8:12, Hebrews 12:14, John 14:26, John 15:26-27, Proverbs 12:26, Matthew 5:13-16, Psalms 138:3, Jeremiah 16:19