EPHESIANS 2… You are not you anymore! The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to Gentile believers in Christ. You get the vibe that he’s really trying to help them to understand that they’re not second-class citizens to the Jews in the Kingdom of God!
Eph. 2:19-22 “19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.”
No longer foreigners. Citizens too. Members of the family. Made part of the house. Because Jesus is the “cornerstone”… EX. GAINING US CITIZENSHIP… US Embassy- heaven on earth!!
Paul is speaking out of passion, experience, conviction. He’s both challenging them and encouraging them to see themselves as who they are in Christ! He’s wanting them to see just how significant this is considering “who they are now” compared to “who they used to be!” Paul uses the words- “You WERE DEAD….” God chose to bring them in alive!
THE BAD NEWS: WE’RE DEAD IN SIN!
Eph. 2:1-3 “In the past you were spiritually dead because of your sins and the things you did against God. 2 Yes, in the past you lived the way the world lives, following the ruler of the evil powers that are above the earth. That same spirit is now working in those who refuse to obey God. 3 In the past all of us lived like them, trying to please our sinful selves and doing all the things our bodies and minds wanted. We should have suffered God’s anger because we were sinful by nature. We were the same as all other people.”
THE BIG THEME (vv.1-3): “IN THE PAST!” “In the Past” means really WHO, WHAT, and WHERE you USED TO BE! Greek word means, “formerly, in the sphere of.” Paul writes IN THE PAST YOU USED TO BE! Who can relate?
“IN THE PAST you were spiritually dead because of your sins…” Translation? We were DEAD! As in not living! As in destined for doom! It seemed like we were living, but it was like going down a DEAD-END road, eventually we run out of road…
Rom. 3:23-24 “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, 24 and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.”
“IN THE PAST you lived the way the world lives…” Translation? We followed the crowd! We did what everyone else did! We were like ZOMBIES! I admit I’m a fan of the AMC show “Walking Dead!” Really is a story of the mindlessness and deadness of sin and the contrast of the will to survive, to be alive…
Col. 2:13 “When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins.”
“IN THE PAST all of us lived like them, trying to please our sinful selves…” Translation? We existed for 3 people, me, myself, and I! We were slaves to our sinful selves! We were trying to satisfy an insatiable appetite! You can never please a selfish person! If I’m hard to please then it’s because I’m selfish. EX. RILEY always wanted what Rem had!
Titus 3:3-5 “3 In the past we also were foolish. We did not obey, we were wrong, and we were slaves to many things our bodies wanted and enjoyed. We spent our lives doing evil and being jealous. People hated us, and we hated each other. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was shown, 5 he saved us because of his mercy. It was not because of good deeds we did to be right with him. He saved us through the washing that made us new people through the Holy Spirit.”
Don’t we all want all that to be in the past? Paul is obviously talking to people who USED TO BE DEAD, but they’re not there anymore- that’s past, NOW, THEY’RE ALIVE! There’s real conviction here in Paul’s words BECAUSE PAUL HAD A PAST…
THE GOOD NEWS: WE’RE ALIVE IN CHRIST!
Eph. 2:4-10 4 “But God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. 5 Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace. 6 And he raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with him in the heavens. He did this for those in Christ Jesus 7 so that for all future time he could show the very great riches of his grace by being kind to us in Christ Jesus. 8 I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. 10 God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”
Obviously, God did not want you DEAD, HE WANTS YOU ALIVE! How did we, or do we make the transition? It takes a RESURRECTION!
TWO BIG WORDS: “BUT GOD!” It’s a term of contrast. This “two word conduction” changes the fate of mankind! It shows that God initiated the plan of salvation, not us. Our salvation hangs entirely on those two words. We were dead…But God! We were slaves to sin…But God! We were doomed…but God! We were self-destructing…but God! We were lost in sin…but God!
“BUT GOD loved us very much…” Greek word here is “agape” and it means “unconditional, benevolent!” God saw our situation and much more than merely being sorry for us, He stepped in with the solution. He had COMPASSION! “Great love” means God is not miserly, but overwhelms us with his sacrificial love, mercy, grace! This kind of love, although still incomparable to God’s, is what compelled Mother Teresa, who said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
John 3:16 “ “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.”
“BUT GOD gave us new life with Christ…” The contrast between death and life. You’re not kind of dead or kind of alive. You are dead or you are alive! That’s the why the old wanted posters said that! We don’t care one way or the other- drag him in dead or alive. Death has a finality to it. Life has an infinity to it. You stay alive until you’re dead- get it?? To be given “new life” in Christ means the curse of sin is broken-
1 Cor. 15:51-56 “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed….” 2 Cor. 5:17 “If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!”
“BUT GOD raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with him…” Have you ever got to sit in suites or premiere seats or box seats at a game?? It’s marvelous!! Just sitting there… makes you feel more important, more special, more empowered than you really are! Well, “in Christ” you get to sit in the OWNER’S SUITE!” To have a “seat with Christ” means you are now in a position of full adoption and the full authority that comes in “his name!” Gary and Micky adopted and their kids have legal right and privilege to the “Jenson” name!
Luke 10:18-20 Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Listen, I have given you power to walk on snakes and scorpions, power that is greater than the enemy has. So nothing will hurt you. 20 But you should not be happy because the spirits obey you but because your names are written in heaven.”
“BUT GOD saved (us) by grace through believing…” Love, mercy, grace- the trifecta of God’s heart towards us! Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve. “Unmerited favor!”
I love this illustration of Grace: Been a very hard winter in the Rockies. Red Cross were flying in supplies, etc. A rescue team returning to their base saw a cabin buried n the snow with faint smoke rising from the chimney. Decided to take them supplies. Knocked on door and an elderly mountain woman answered. The leader said, “We’re from the Red Cross!” The woman paused and said, “It’s been a long, hard winter Sonny. I just don’t think we can give anything this year!”
Grace is like that. God continually goes out of his way to bring us aid… but time and time again we’ve refused him. We try to save ourselves, and even feel a certain pride in doing it on our own. But sooner or later we are going to need God, need his grace, because we’ll realize we have nothing to give back or deserve it in return!
Eph. 2:8-10 8 “I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. 10 God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”
In the PAST we WERE… NOW- “IN CHRIST God has made us what we are. God made us to do good works…”
God wants you dead? NO! God wants you alive!
Rom. 6:2-4 “No! We died to our old sinful lives, so how can we continue living with sin? 3 Did you forget that all of us became part of Christ when we were baptized? We shared his death in our baptism. 4 When we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and shared his death. So, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the wonderful power of the Father, we also can live a new life.”
DEAD BUT ALIVE! BAPTISM is the outward illustration of this inward transformation!