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  • Lifeless

    Here's the next stop on our journey through the first three chapters of Ephesians.

    Lifeless - primary image

    Solitary by Neil Tackaberry used under CC BY-SA 2.0

    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. Ephesians 2:1-3

    The next two words after this passage are important, ‘But God…’. They lead into a famous description of us being made alive with Jesus by grace. But it’s important that we don’t rush past verses 1-3; it’s easy to when you can see the beauty of verses 4-10 a few lines below, but if we underestimate what we were like without God, we will under-appreciate what He did to save us. We will also underestimate what needs to be done to fix the world.

    Looking at verse one, the exact difference between trespasses and sins is difficult to translate or explain. It could be understood as being the things we do in active rebellion of God (trespasses) and the things we don’t do in failing to meet the standards of the holiness of God (sin). Their result isn’t hard to grasp though, we were dead. The only thing that matters eternally—our relationship with God—was dead.

    As well as being dead, Paul explains our pre-Christian condition in two more ways; we were enslaved and condemned. Separated from God, we fell under the control of the world, the devil (‘the prince of the power of the air*’) and our selfish desires (‘the flesh’). We were enslaved to drift along with the flow of the ideas and values of this world (under the whip of materialism and its friends), we were under the influence of evil spirits who answer to Satan, and we were bound to the follow the distorted desires of our bodies and minds.

    We were also condemned.

    Being ‘children of wrath’ isn’t a palettable term, but there it is. The ultimate result of our trespass and sin is that we were under wrath, under condemnation. Being condemned doesn’t mean merely feeling guilty; it’s not a feeling, it’s a fearsome future. It means being found guilty and having a date set to stand before God our Judge for sentencing. God’s wrath doesn’t fluctuate, it isn’t dependant on mood. It is His settled, righteous anger against evil. The punishment is already settled as well; anyone who isn’t in Christ will suffer an eternity away from God.

    Dead. Enslaved. Condemned. It doesn’t get any more serious.

    But God…

    For such a radical disease a radical remedy was needed. When we put our faith in Jesus, his death becomes ours, removing the condemnation! His resurrection becomes ours, restoring our relationship with the Father! His power becomes ours, destroying the control of the devil and breaking the chains that the world and the self used to pull us around with.

    Alive! Free! Exonerated! In Christ.

    We need to be part of bringing education and justice to all people, but if every child were sat in a classroom and every accused person sat in a fair courtroom, the world would still be a mess. What this world needs is the news about Jesus.

    Prayer Prompts

    Thank you Father for your settled anger against evil and for telling us about it! Thank you for being so rich in mercy that You gave Your Son to remove the penalty and power of sin - and ultimately to save us from the presence of sin for eternity. Help us to take the message of repentance and forgiveness to the rest of the world.

    *‘The air’ could also be translated as ‘the foggy atmosphere’ or perhaps ‘smog’, it’s a description of the cloudy darkness that Satan operates in, in comparison to the glorious clarity of light in God’s Kingdom.

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