1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 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— 3 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.
In the opening verses of Ephesians 2, Paul makes it very clear that if it were not for the saving grace of God, we would be helpless and hopeless in this world. Let’s take a look at how Paul describes our condition apart from Christ.
Dead in trespasses and sins.
Before salvation, we were dead to God in that we had absolutely no relationship with Him. Just as a dead person is completely cut off from the living, so were we from God. And, just as a dead person cannot initiate a relationship with someone living (and if they did, it would be a seriously scary, zombie-like moment!), so are we powerless to give ourselves life to connect with a living God.
Followed the course of this world.
Since we had no connection with the living God, we came under the influence and sway of other powers. We followed the popular values of the age. Today, as throughout the ages, the course of this world has been to primarily preserve, promote and please yourself. Altruism in the world is and has always been curbed by self-interest.
Followed the devil
What? I followed the devil? That’s ridiculous! I didn’t follow the devil before I was a Christian. Well, let’s think about this. What was the way of Satan in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3)? His way was to doubt God’s way and he tempted Adam and Eve to choose their own way. Satan’s way is to have you choose your way over Yahweh. No way! Yahweh! Doi, I couldn’t resist. To say that we followed Satan does not mean that we lived hate-filled, murderous, devil worshipping lives; it simply means that we lived under Satan’s influence to resist and reject the holy, loving and truthful ways of God and of God, Himself. Satan is identified simply as the spirit that is now at work in the “sons of disobedience” and not the “sons of wicked, crazy, devil worshippers”. Satan’s influence on our lives is subtle but very deadly.
Lived in the passions of our flesh
We lived enslaved to our desires (physical, mental and emotional desires). An addiction is basically being enslaved to a desire that harms your life or the lives of those connected to you. According to Paul, without the forgiveness and freedom that God brings through faith in Jesus, we remain slaves to our own appetites even when those appetites consume us. I believe most people, when honest with themselves, can identify desires that are out of their control that harm them and those they love. Everyday desires like the desire to be liked, for sexual intimacy, for recognition or for power and control.
Children of wrath
This phrase sounds horrible because it conjures up images of little kids being harshly punished. However, it simply means that since we lived in direct opposition to God, we would logically incur the ultimate rejection of God, His wrath. That is a natural and logical consequence.
So, without salvation in Christ, we are dead in our sins, enslaved to ourselves and condemned before God. That’s depressing at best. But, thanks be to God for the next three verses in Ephesians 2. In July, we will begin to memorize verses 5-7.