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Sunday, August 17, 2014 pm                                Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (8)
Dead in Trespasses and Sins
Ephesians 2:1-10 (1)

 

In our last lesson about Ephesians we discussed the power of God as it was demonstrated in Jesus – by raising Him from the dead, seating Him at His right hand in heaven and giving Him to be head over all things to the church.   In our text tonight we will notice how this power affects our salvation.

 I.                    Our Former Conduct (1-3)

a.        And you” tied to previous statement about the power of Jesus.  Remember God’s power was demonstrated in physically raising Jesus from the dead.  NOW we have the spiritual application for us.  This is a context that describes our spiritual death as a result of sinful conduct.   Let us consider its message in the next few verses. 

b.       he made alive” – this phrase is not found in the Greek texts, but is an interpolation (inserted by translators for flow of context).  It certainly is true to the context, but the phrase is actually not found until verse 5 when we speak of God’s grace overcoming our spiritual death.   Some of the more modern translations get this one right (NASU, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…”; ESV, “and you were dead in the trespasses and sins…”)

c.        “who were dead in trespasses and sins

                                                   i.      The death here is spiritual death.
A simple description of death is separation.  When one dies physically, his soul is separated from his flesh (James 2:26, cf. Luke 8:55 where Jesus raised a little girl.  The text says, “Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.”)
The death spoken of here is separation from God because of our sins – Romans 6:23 , Colossians 2:13, also vs. 5-6 of our text.  Isaiah 59:1-2 speaks of our iniquities separating us from God. 
NOTE: Even physical death is the product of sin – we die because Adam sinned (Rom.5:12).  We can live because of Jesus. 

                                                  ii.      Trespasses – a word that means to violate moral standards.  The original meaning of the word was one who stumbles, or goes into territory where he is not authorized, much like our English, trespassing.   Some describe this as sins where one does what he is not authorized to do. 
It is found in Matthew 6:14 where we are to forgive men their trespasses if we want God to forgive.   James 5:16 speaks of confessing our trespasses.  The word is also translated “offenses” in Romans 5:15-18, and sin in Ephesians 1:7.

                                                iii.      Sins – is the word most typically translated “sin” and means “to miss the mark.”  BDAG describes it as a departure from … divine standards of uprightness.  Perhaps here the contrast is these are sins of omission – we FAIL to do what we are told. 
How many of us in defining sin make the list shorter than it actually is?  We tend to describe “the big things” as sins (murder, adultery, etc.), but we overlook the “little things” – ungodly attitudes, little lies, our failure to do something we ought to do, acting in doubt, etc. 

                                                iv.      To God – there is NO difference in sins.  Sin is sin and always leads to death!  James 2:10-11 tells us that to stumble in one point is to be guilty of the whole law.

d.       In which you once walked – Ephesians uses the word “walk” in 7 verses.  It describes our manner of life.  There are typically 2 paths we can follow – the “straight and narrow” or the “broad and crooked” way (Matthew 7:13-14)
Here, Paul notes that they USED to walk in the ways he is to describe – a way of sin. 
This reminds us that the life of a Christian is to be a changed life.  We put to death the man of sin – Colossians 3:3 says, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Romans 6:
5-6 says, For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 
Ephesians 4:22 speaks of putting of the old man who grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.

e.       According to the prince of the power of the air – this is a description of Satan.
Satan certainly is a “prince” or ruler.  His dominion is this world – 2 Cor. 4:4, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
Jesus referred to him as “the ruler of this world” – John 12:31, 14:30, etc.
The idea of the “power of the air” is a description, in this case, of the physical realm – this world. 
 He walks about seeking whom he may devour - 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Tim. 2:26 – speaks of his snares (traps) 

f.         The spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience – he STILL rules! 
Ephesians 4:17-19 describes this ungodly walk of those who belong to him. 
1 John 5:19 “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
It is a mistake to think that Satan is not powerful and at work.  While we know that God is always greater than him (1 John 4:4, cf. John 14:30, where Jesus said, “he has nothing in Me.”)

g.        Among whom we all once conducted ourselves” – the KJV uses says here, “we all had our conversation.”  That word “conversation” today means to carry on a discussion with someone.  But in times past, it was a reference to one’s overall conduct.  The way he acts regularly. 
Again, Paul speaks of our former conduct.  In this verse, we note that he includes himself. 
On many occasions, Paul declares all to be sinners – Romans 3:23. 
Even Paul was a sinner – 1 Timothy 1:12-15. 
1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Such were some of you.” 

h.       in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.   
Lust means a strong desire or craving.  While the Greek word can have a good connotation (Luke 22:15, Phil. 1:23 - desire), when the term “lust” is used it is bad conduct. 
Lusts indicate that one is living to gratify his flesh.  1 John 2:15-16 speaks of the various forms of lust that come from loving the world.  Galatians 5:19-21 describe the works of the flesh. These are examples.  1 Peter 4:3-5 – we have spent enough of our lifetime…
James 4:1-3 – John 3:36,
We are to overcome lust – Romans 13:14, put on the Lord and make no provisions for the lusts of the flesh.  Romans 6:12, “Do not let sin reign in our mortal bodies that you should obey its lusts.” 
1 Peter 1:14, “as obedient children, not conforming to the former lusts, as in your ignorance.”
and of the mind  - evil thoughts, sins of the heart and attitudes – arrogance, pride, hatred, hypocrisy.  Such sins are just as much damning as our actions.  In fact, you find attitudes to be as detestable, if not more so, to God.  Consider how He despises the hypocrite, the lukewarm, etc.  
For example: What does the Bible say about hating your brother? 1 John 4:20-21

i.          and were by nature children of wrath” – if you are not in Christ, you are a child of wrath. 

                                                   i.      “Children of wrath” are those facing God’s wrath and eternal condemnation. 
John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Romans 1:18,  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Romans 2:5-9 – God’s indignation and wrath await those with hardened and impenitent hearts, and those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, and does evil – both Jew and Greek.
Colossians 3:6, “Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

                                                  ii.      Let us be reminded that this includes many who are religious. 
Consider Paul – who in his former conduct was without God, Acts 22:3. 
Consider the devout Jews on the Day of Pentecost – Acts 2.  They needed to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38)
Consider Cornelius – a devout man who feared God, prayed and did good works (Acts 10:1-2), yet he needed to send for Peter for further instructions. 

                                                iii.      by nature” does not mean that we are inherently depraved.  It means that because we conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind we face the consequences of those actions.   There is nothing in this verse (or the Bible) that demands we cannot help but sin (i.e. we have no free will) or that we are born in a depraved state. 
NOTE: This expression is used to talk about our evil nature.  What about Romans 2:14, “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,”?  In this verse Gentiles DO GOOD!  They keep the things in the law that are good.  How can they be both evil and good “by nature” if it means they have no control over it?
FURTHERMORE: In context, “you once walked” in these things (their actions resulted in the consequence);  AND, in the context, it does not say WHEN they BEGAN to be children of wrath, just that it was BEFORE they were made alive.

 

In these verses we see the condition of man and WHY he needs the grace of God.  The remainder of this passage describes the grace of God.   Read Eph. 2:4-10.   In our next lesson we will examine the grace of God in this context.   Until then, let us learn from this passage the consequences of rejecting the gift of God which He offers to us through Jesus.   Rather than living in death, be made alive in Him.  Think about it!