"NATURAL OR SUPERNATURAL LIFE"
(A Message from Ephesians)
Westgate Chapel 10/12/03 Ephesians 2:1-10
PROPOSITION: By nature man is dead, enslaved, and condemned for eternity BUT God made us alive together with Christ, raised us up with Him and seated us together with Him in heavenly places because of His mercy, love, grace and kindness.
- THE news media is increasingly able to let us see the extent of evil in the world, and in one thirty minute television news show we can watch.....
* …a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
* ...the ravages of war in Afghanistan or Iraq.
* ...children starving to death in Ethiopia.
* ...a home invasion in Kent.
* ...a drive-by shooting in Pioneer Square.
* ...a murder suicide in Gig Harbor.
* ...victims of horrific civil war in East Africa.
- IS it any wonder we get depressed?
- THE world condition is not necessarily a whole lot worse today than it was in, say, 1993. We just have more access to the pain and suffering of humanity in the press today than 10 years ago.
- WHAT is it we are seeing on world news every day?
- THE natural condition of humanity…what we are by nature.
- IT would be interesting to do a survey here today and see what the response would be to the question;
* Is man, by nature, basically good? Yes or No.
- I THINK we would be surprised by the results.
- BUT what does the Bible say about our earthly human nature?
- COLOSSIANS 3:5 lists some of the works of our earthly nature;
“…sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
- WELL, those five alone would just about explain the horror of your average 20/20 news program.
- NO, humanity is not basically good….humanity is basically evil, which is why in the heart of the passage of Scripture I want to share with you today, Paul writes in Ephesians 2:3,
“…we were by nature objects of wrath.”
- THE condition of our fallen world that we see in Technicolor in the news every day is a vivid picture of natural man trying to manage himself.
- NATURAL man is incapable of managing his world, and especially of creating a just, free and peaceful society.
- AT the heart of the problem is the fact that natural man is, himself, off balance. So then everything he touches gets off center, and the condition of our world is the result.
- TURN with me in your Bibles to Ephesians 2 (page 1156).
- IN the first ten verses of Ephesians 2, Paul paints a vivid contrast between what man is by nature, and what he can become by the grace of God, as a spiritual man or woman.
- AND, really, the purpose of this message is to get you and me to ask the question:
“Am I living in my earthly nature or have I been born again to live the life of God’s Spirit?”
- LET’S read Ephesians 2:1-10 together?
II. MAN BY NATURE
- PAUL has given us here, the devastating description of the natural man or woman.
- WHAT we must be clear on today is that this is the description of everybody.
- THIS is not the description of some barbaric tribe in central Africa that Paul is describing, or a motorcycle gang in California, or the patrons of a local bar.
- THIS is a God’s diagnosis of natural humanity everywhere...sitting in churches across America this morning, on Wall Street, in Universities, right here in this auditorium.
- THIS is YOU and ME.
- IN fact, Paul says in verse 3, to the church of Christians in Ephesus, "we all once lived this way."
- THIS is the condition of every man who is living without Christ in their earthly nature.
- PAUL singles out three terrible truths about natural humanity......you and me until God had mercy on us.
1. YOU WERE DEAD
- IN verse 1, Paul writes,
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live..." (2:1-2a)
- THIS is a factual statement Paul makes about the condition of the believers at Ephesus, when they were living in their earthly nature, outside of Christ.
- THIS ‘death’ is not a figure of speech.
- BEFORE we were born again we followed the ways of the world being directed by the powers of darkness. And, as a result, we were...cut off from the life of God.
- IN other words cut off from true life and eternal life.
- SIN cut us off from God...
* He hides His face from us.......it is the natural consequence of sin.
* It is death.
- DEAD! You say? That doesn't make sense. There are people that I see every day who are not Christians who look very much alive.
* I know one that has the body of an athlete.
* I know one that has the mind of a scholar.
* I know another that has the personality of a film star.
- HOW can they be dead?
- BECAUSE the physical body, the intellect or personality are elements of living that don't matter a whole lot. 100 years from now they will be of no consequence at all.
- THESE people may have body, mind and personality, but they have no life in the only sphere that matters supremely…the kingdom of God.
- THEY are…
* Blind to the glory of Jesus.
* Deaf to the voice of God.
* Without love for God.
* Without the experience of God.
* Without a hunger for God.
- IN the one thing that matters for eternity, they are as unresponsive as a corpse.
- OH, they may play softball, eat health food, do aerobics, read Shakespeare and be gracious dinner guests, but they are walking in a living DEATH...they are without God.
- AND Ephesians 2 traces this condition right back to "transgressions and sins."
- TRANSGRESSION is a crossing of a known boundary or path.
- SIN is a missing of the mark that God has established for holy living.
- PAUL says this is the shape you were in before Christ found you.
- THIS is the shape the world is in today.
- MAYBE it is the condition you are in today.
2. YOU WERE ENSLAVED
- BUT, not only were you dead before you were born again. Paul goes on to say that you were enslaved by your sin.
- I KNOW that the enemy of your soul and mine paints sin as a pathway to freedom…throwing off restraint and being your own man or woman…nobody telling me what I can or can’t do!
- BUT in reality, a life of "transgression and sin" is not a life of freedom but of slavery...in bondage to forces over which you have no control.
- IN his classic, The Holy War, John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, quotes the King speaking to Mansoul,
“Nothing can hurt you except sin; nothing can grieve Me except sin; nothing can defeat you except sin. Therefore, be on your guard, my Mansoul.”
- WHAT really lies behind sin?
- THREE things.
a) “......you followed the ways of this world..." (Verse 2a)
* You followed a society that is determined to make its way without any reference to God. (D.A. haircut that my Dad wouldn't let me wear. WHY? Because it was following a lifestyle of the world set in rebellion against God. That haircut in that day reeked of rebellion.)
* This society is jammed with ambitions, desires, clothes, cars, houses, food, drink, drugs, relationships, pleasures, styles, TV programs, movies that are established without any reference to or care for God.
* Paul says that when you were dead you followed the ways of the world...enslaved by its lifestyle...without a mind of your own...just giving in to the bondage of our culture.
c) "......you followed....the ruler of the kingdom of the air...the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." (Verse 2b)
* These are the principalities and powers; spiritual beings who work in the unseen world.
* There are many churches that don't believe in Satan and demon powers as literal entities.
* But if the Bible has any relevance to our every day lives, it teaches very clearly that Satan and his demons are real and at work in the world and in the lives of those who are dead in their sins.
* There is a spirit that works in disobedient people.
* He is not only the tempter but the destroyer of life and hope. You can trace all evil, error, tragedy and violence back to him.
* People who are dead in their sins are automatically under that control of Satan and his demons.
c) "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts..." (Verse 3a)
* This is the third thing Paul says about people who are dead in their sins....that they are in bondage to the sins of the flesh.
* These are the desires that appeal to our fallen, earthly self-centered nature.
* These are our normal, physical needs for food, sleep and sex that are corrupted when they become perverted by sinful desires...appetite for food becomes gluttony...appetite for sleep become laziness...appetite for sex becomes lust.
* Then there are the illegitimate desires of the flesh like pride, false ambition, rejection of known truth, hatred, vengeance, unforgiveness...wherever self rears its ugly head.
- SO before Christ set us free, we were dead to God and enslaved by the world, the flesh and the devil.
- WE rebelled knowingly against the loving authority of God and so fell under the dominion of Satan.