Theme: God’s power toward us who believe is seen in what we were, what God did, and who we now are.
Context: That we would know the greatness of His power (Ephesians 1:19) — well, here it is.
- 1 What we were (1-3)
- 2 What God did (4-9)
- 3 What we are (10)
What We Were (2:1-3)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2a in which you once walked,
Trespasses: Crossing the line. Willful disobedience — rebellion.
Sins: Missing the mark. Unwilling disobedience — nature.
- Sins of commission and omission.
- Acts of sin and our position as sinners.
You were dead: This is the more important news. Believers used to be dead in our sins.
This isn’t the only picture the Bible paints of humanity (made in God’s image), but it is a predominant image of our spiritual death and decay.
- Order of death: spiritual, followed by physical, and ending in eternal.
- Jesus: Matthew 8:22 (ESV)—22 “…leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Sin is a type of suicide.
- It kills our innocence — you never go back.
- It kills our ideals — standards and previous reservations lower.
- It kills the will — making one subservient to their desires.
2b 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.
2-3 Following: We were followers. But what did we follow?
- 1 — The course of this world: We lived exactly like the present age.
- 2 — The prince of the power of the air: We unknowingly followed Satan, the controller of the atmosphere.
- 3 — The passions of our flesh / The desires of the body and the mind: We were at the mercy of our desires.
3 Children of wrath, like the rest of mankind:
- John 3:36 (ESV) — 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
- Romans 1:18 (ESV)—18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Does this offend you? Are you tempted to water it down?
- Remember: The opposite of God’s wrath is not God’s love, but God’s neutrality, and God cannot be neutral against evil. He cannot be indifferent to that which kills us.
- Remember: There is likely a direct correlation between the intensity of your belief in these statements and your passion for God.
What God Did (2:4-9)
Why He Did It (2:4-5a)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses,
4 Rich in mercy:
- From wrath.
- God’s compassion.
4 Great love / 5 Even when we were dead in our trespasses:
- Agape: To seek the highest good of the one loved.
- Note: Only God loves perfectly like this.
What He Did (2:5b-7)
5b made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
- 1 — United Us To Christ
- 2 — Released Christ’s Power In Us
- 3 — Positioned With Christ
Many try to rehabilitate humanity, but God resurrects humanity.
He has fused us together with Christ (alive, raised, and seated). This fusion is the ground and goal of the Christian life.
Why He Did It, Revisited (2:7)
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
A revisitation of why God did all this. Mercy and love motivate God to do this for us eternally.
How He Did It (2:8-9)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But how did God do this? Through faith.
Definition: Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God.
- Not a feeling.
- Not a positive mental attitude.
- Not a mere system (i.e. my faith).
- Not even an intellectual belief in certain facts.
- But TRUST AND SURRENDER.
Faith is God’s forever method of delivering salvation. This grand salvation is not by works, by your own doing, but is God’s gift to you.
What We Are (10)
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
9 reasons good works naturally flow from saving faith (Partly compiled from Norman Geisler’s Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics).
- 1 Faith is like a seed (Luke 8:11-18, 1 Peter 1:23).
- 2 Our nature has changed (2 Cor 5:17, Col 3:10).
- 3 Born again, we want to grow (John 3:3, 7).
- 4 Faith and works are connected in the Bible.
- 5 Faith is trust, which would lead to good behavior towards the one being trusted.
- 6 Saving faith involves repentance.
- 7 True faith involves love for God. Obedience flows from love. (Matt 22:37, John 4:7)
- 8 Emotions are involved in true faith.
- 9 True faith is obedience, so more obedience logically flows.
James 2:17 (ESV)—17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
John Stott (The Message Of Ephesians): “Against the somber background of our world today Ephesians 2:1-10 stands out in striking relevance. Paul first plumbs the depths of pessimism about man, and then rises to the heights of optimism about God. It is this combination of pessimism and optimism, of despair and faith, which constitutes the refreshing realism of the Bible. For what Paul does in this passage is to paint a vivid contrast between what man is by nature and what he can become by grace.”