Faithlife Sermons

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*Dead Men Walking*
Ephesians 2:1-3
 
Introduction
 
A man went to visit his well to do friend who had been taken ill.
When he showed up at the door, the butler at first refused to let him in stating that the man will ill and could not be disturbed.
“Nonsense,” said the friend.
“It’s all in his mind.
He just /thinks/ he is ill.”
And with that he barged through to see his friend.
The next day he returned, but again met with resistance by the butler who said, “He is worse today and should not be disturbed.”
“Nonsense,” said the friend.
“It’s all in his mind.
He just /thinks/ he is worse.”
And he barged right on through again to visit with his friend.
A few days later, he came back again, but this time the butler preempted him by saying, “I am sorry sir, but today he /thinks/ he is dead!”
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the exact opposite is true.
We have an epidemic of people who /think/ they are alive, but in fact, God says they are as dead as a doornail.
Oh, they walk around, they talk, they laugh, they live, but though they have physical life, and though many of them are quite nice people, but the horrible truth is that they are /hopelessly/ separated and from God and thus as spiritually dead as they could possibly be.
That’s the message of Eph 2:1-3, but why is it set in this context?
Now, why does Paul go into this subject?
Well, remember the great overall theme of Ephesians?
It’s found in 1:9-10 where he says, “9) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set /forth in Christ/ 10) as a plan for the fullness of time, to /unite all things/ in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
You’ll recall that when we studied this we found that there is a universal problem of alienation.
Nations and people are alienated from each other.
Humans are alienated from nature; from each other and from God. Everywhere there is apartness and isolation.
Why is this?
Well, we saw that the cause is sin.
But God has an ultimate purpose to remove the alienation and bring about unity.
He will restore paradise.
The church a focal point for that effort and in chapter 2 of Eph He is going to show how that happens individually and then corporately.
*/In Christ/*, God has started this great process and here is an example.
It’s one of the great chapters of the Bible.
But before He gets to the wonder of God’s grace, he must expose the horror of man’s condition – verses 1-3.
Then in Ephesians 2:4-10 we find hope and love and grace.
Few verses in the Bible can match its magnificent message of hope, resurrection and life.
We are going to look these verses for the next few weeks under a series entitled “Amazing Grace”, for that perfectly captures the message contained here.
Paul is describing for those who are already believers their journey from death to life, from enslavement to freedom, from paralyzing darkness to glorious light – a first step by God in reuniting all things.
We have entitled verses 1-3 “Dead Men Walking” – describing man without God.
We will study verses 4-9 under the title “But God” – describing the only possible solution through God alone.
And we have called verse 10 “New Men Walking” – where we will see described Man /with /God.
We might also call verses 1-3 Our Sin.
Verses 4-9 Our Savior and verse 10 Our Service.
All in all it is a stupendous reminder of where we have been, where we are going and how we got there.
But in order to see the glory of the solution, we must see the depths of the problem.
To fully appreciate the view from the mountaintop, the wonder of salvation and the glory of God, we must first see the depths and hopelessness of life apart from Him and that is our unenviable task today.
What is mankind like without God from /God’s /perspective – and therefore, in reality?
*I.
**They are Dead*
 
Eph 2:1 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.”
A very dark movie came out a few years ago [1995] which illustrates quite graphically the truth of this condition.
It was called /Dead Man Walking /and was based on the true story of a relationship that developed between a nun, played by Susan Sarandon and a death row inmate played by Sean Penn.
The title was taken from the traditional call in the United States of “dead man walking, dead man walking here,” from a prison guard as a condemned prisoner is led onto death row.
That almost perfectly captures the grim, but almost totally unseen and unrecognized reality of every single person who is outside of Jesus Christ.
They are literally dead men and dead women walking.
But until they realize their condition, there is virtually no hope that they can have life although life is richly and readily available.
In order to understand and appreciate God’s grace; jto get the full impact of man’s condition apart from God, we have to deal with this fact.
However, good or bad they may look; however good or bad they may act; however good or bad life may have treated them – all people outside of Christ live with one drastic trait that renders them equal in the end – they are dead men and dead women walking.
That is the verdict of Almighty God.
Look with me beginning at verse 1: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.
The word “you” is presented at the beginning of the sentence in the Greek text just as it is here.
That means that it is emphasized.
Paul is saying you Ephesian Gentiles will remember that it wasn’t that long ago that you were dead in trespasses and sins.
However, he does not limit it to them at all.
We have only to get to verse 3 and we see him moving to first person when he says that we /all/ (meaning Gentile and Jews alike – me the apostle and you Ephesians alike) once lived in the passions of our flesh.
Also please note the words “were dead”.
They are in the present tense, not meaning that they are still in this state, but emphasizing the ongoing, inherent, persistent quality of their existence.
They were the walking dead.
Now, the big question is, what does it mean that they were dead?
If they were physically quite alive, in what sense were they dead?
We actually need look no further than verse 12 for our answer.
Paul says, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
That is as concise and accurate a statement of spiritual death as you could ever get.
It is a state of hopeless separation and alienation from God.  Death is always recognized in Scripture as a separation.
Physical death is separation of body and soul as we clearly see whenever it happens.
Spiritual death is the separation of the individual from his or her Creator, just as was being experience by the Ephesians in this chapter.
Now, what is the cause of this separation from God?  Paul answers concisely.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2) in which you once walked.
The word “trespass” means to slip or to fall, to be on the wrong way.
“Sin” means to miss the mark, a word that conjures up the image of an archer missing his target.
The two words are used here to indicate the breadth of the problem and not to emphasize any particular difference between them.
Man is dead because he simply cannot meet the standards of God.
He fails utterly to live up to the perfection demanded by an infinite and holy God.
Okay, now, let’s take this sin issue one step further.
I want you to listen closely now.
You need to get this.
It will help you immensely in this passage and with all of Scripture for that matter.
What is the absolute essence of sin?
What is it that makes sin, sin in the first place?
If sin is missing the mark, what is the mark?
Now – here it is.
/Sin at its very core is making a god out of myself./
Sin in its essence is setting anyone or anything up in place of God and the vast majority of the time, that someone or something is me.
Let me give it to you as straight as I can.
Sin is me thinking I can run my own life.
After all, it’s mine to do with as I want.
No one can tell me what to do with it.
It’s mine!  That’s right, but that is also sin in its most blatant, irredeemable, ghastly expression.
I insist on being my own boss.
Now – I don’t want you to take my word for this.
Let me show you from the Word of God.
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