And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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— 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.
What does it mean to be dead? This is not saying,
“ceasing to exist”, but rather “lifeless, useless, futile, powerless, but here is the key, it also means “being unable to respond”.
This is how Paul is referring to people, to us, pre our becoming a follower of Jesus, we were spiritually lifeless and powerless, we were unable to respond, we were spiritually dead.
Why? Because of our trespasses and sins. What is a trespass? If we think naturally, a trespass is overstepping a boundary, either intentionally or unintentionally. What is a sin? It is wrongdoing, again intentionally or unintentionally, but it was also a term used in archery, meaning missing the mark, missing the bullseye. Even if the intention was to hit the bullseye, when the archer missed, they would say, “sin”
So overstepping the boundaries that a good and loving God has established, and us at times even trying to be “good” but still missing the mark. We also at many times, didn’t know about the boundaries, or the mark, so we weren’t even trying to hit it, and also at times, we were intentionally trying to miss the mark. We were made in the image of God, to be in relationship with God, in to live in obedience to God’s good and perfect ways for us, our creator telling us our true purpose , but all of us have chosen to live apart from God and try to find our own way, our own purpose apart from Him.
In which you once walked, walking is an ongoing steady intentional process, so saying here, sin and trespass were a continual ongoing way of life, life as normal, you used to live in sin he writes, but Paul says it as a past tense way of life, meaning now that they, we, are followers of Jesus, this is not our way of life, sin and trespass, following Jesus is the way of our life. In fact, in the early church, Jesus was called the way.
Paul also indicates that then and also now, this is the normal course of the world, it’s geared to making us sinners and trespassers, disobedient to God, and our disobedience to God is what? It’s obedience to the devil. He is the prince or commander of the powers in the unseen world, He is the spirit who is at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
The devil is real, a quote from a favorite movie of mine called Usual Suspects, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he doesn’t exist.
He is real and he’s out for our destruction,
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
But we can’t forget that Paul, at the end of chapter 1 told us that when God raised Jesus from the dead, He seated Him at His right hand, far above every rule and authority, power and dominion, above every name that is named, not only now but forever, Jesus is above all, especially the devil.
Paul here in verse 3 switches from “you” terminology to “we or us” saying not that we all at one level or another were among these disobedient ones, we all at one time or another followed the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. We’ve all sinned and we’ve all pursued sin, it didn’t just happen to us. We’ve all made conscious choices to be disobedient to God, to trespass, to sin.
At the end of verse 3 Paul gives the verdict of our disobedience, guilty and subject to God’s wrath. All of us, all of humanity, guilty and subject to God’s anger over our sin, over our disobedience to Him.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But God, what amazing words, “But God”. God didn’t create it to be this way, and God wasn’t going to let it remain this way.
He is rich, has in abundance, mercy, again it’s God’s desire to not give us what we deserve which was stated as anger and punishment. Why?
Because He loved us so much. Agape love, a forever love. So question, Is God’s love unconditional or conditional? Yes. It is unconditional to us, but conditional to Jesus, meaning, Jesus met all the conditions and therefore because of His life and death on our behalf, God’s love to us is free, without conditions.
Verse 5 Paul reiterates our condition, we were dead because of our sins, saying even though this was the case God, gave us life when He raised Jesus from the dead, that is when all the requirements had been met, the sacrifice approved, the sin debt paid in full, it is finished.
This is all by God’s grace, giving us what we don’t deserve.
Saved? Why this word? To bring safely, rescued from sin and death, from an eternity separated, and by Jesus sacrifice, we have been brought safely from death to life, from separation to adoption into the family forever. Saved from the penalty of sin justification past, saved from the ongoing power of sin, sanctification present, saved eventually from the presence of sin, glorification future.
Verse 6, For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. This is past happening, but a not yet occurence. This is stated as a been done, just not fully yet. It’s like a reservation, the spot is there being held, just waiting for our arrival.
Verse 7 God is using us, His church as example to all in the days to come of what His power is capable of doing, raising to life dead and separated peoples and bringing us safely home to His family and eventually to heaven.
Verses 8&9 are two of the greatest verses in scripture. In the NLT it reads, “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift of God. Salvation is not a reward for the good thing we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” It is God’s doing from start to finish, He wakes us up from our spiritual death, He gives us the desire to know, see, understand, the faith to believe, He provided the necessary sacrifice, He did it all. It is what God has done for us to make us right with Him, not what we must do to try to make ourselves right with Him.
But we do have to do something, don’t we, what is it? Believe, trust, place our faith in. This is not a mental ascent to a truth, it is a life changing commitment to something or better yet, someone, who has done so much for you, that love, overwhelming gratefulness, a desire to know and follow this person is the normal and necessary response.
In order for us to be amazed by God’s grace we must be completely and accurately aware of our sinfulness, our desperate situation, a sin debt that we cannot repay or atone for, but one for which God Himself became man to pay for us with His blood, His life. We were rebels, enemies of God, and yet God died for us so we could become His children.
Are you really aware of your sinfulness, your depravity in thought, intention and deed? Your mountain of sin that is justifiably punishable by death. Are you really aware of your hopeless situation apart from Jesus?
Are you equally aware of the love, mercy and grace of God to choose to provide for you the only way out, to save you and bring you safely home, to give you Jesus, but you must believe, trust, follow Jesus.