The Bad News: You Were Dead ~ Ephesians 2:1-3
Introduction – A farmer went into his banker and announced that he had bad news and good news. “First, the bad news...” “Well,” said the farmer, “I can’t make my mortgage payments. And that crop loan I’ve taken out for the past 10 years—I can’t pay that off, either. Not only that, I won’t be able to pay you the couple of hundred thousand I still have outstanding on my tractors and other equipment. So I’m going to have to give up the farm and turn it all over to you for whatever you can salvage out of it.”
Silence prevailed for a minute and then the banker said, “What’s the good news?” “The good news is that I’m going to keep on banking with you,” said the farmer. Bits & Pieces, April 30, 1992
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3
I. You were dead
a. What kind of death is it?
i. The word "dead" in the Greek language is the word nekros. It comes from the word which means "corpse." A corpse is one which has no life. A person who is not a believer is devoid of life. Now you say, " How can he be alive and yet you say he is devoid of life?" That gives you the first clue. We are not talking about physical life; we are talking about spiritual life. You must be able to distinguish between the two. If you don’t, then you’ll miss heaven. You’ve got to understand you can be physically alive but spiritually dead.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:14
Jesus gives us an illustration of spiritual deadness in Matthew 8:21-22.
Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:21-22
Jesus had called the man in this verse to follow Him, the man asked permission to first bury his father — a figure of speech that meant waiting until his father died in order to receive the inheritance. Jesus knows this man’s spiritual condition and, in a sort of play on words, brings both physical and spiritual death together by saying, “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead” The man’s concern was not for his father, who was probably not dead, but for the things of the physical world. He wanted to take care of his physical welfare first and showed no genuine desire for the spiritual.
In 1 Timothy 5:6 Paul is counseling Timothy on how to care for the widows of the church, he said this about those who were shamelessly immoral, But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 1 Timothy 5:6
Though these women were alive physically they were dead spiritually. This is the state of every unredeemed human being.
b. What is the reason?
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— Romans 5:12
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
i. What this means is that every one of us has a ‘sinful nature’. We are born with it. We are born spiritually dead.
1. Adam represented the human race to God and we are all sinners as a result of his sin. Lest you think it unfair that just one man should represent us (and he got it all wrong) think again about what Romans 5:19 says: For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners [that was Adam], even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. That was Jesus.
2. Our sinful nature is what drives the trespasses and sins that Paul talks about in vs. 1. It is the controlling factor in our lives without us even knowing it. We are guilty of and responsible for our rebellion against God. This is who we were.
Once Paul establishes who we are without Christ he goes on to show us just what that means…
II. You were in bondage –Paul says it in Romans 6 – actually throughout the whole of the chapter – he refers to the contrast between our bondage to sin and flesh and becoming servants, or slaves, of Christ.
In verse 19 we read, I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Romans 6:19-20
it is a strange thing about the bondage that we are in before we knew Christ. Being slaves to impurity and to lawlessness means we were free in regard to righteousness. What does that mean? It means that there is no battle for the person who is in bondage to sin. There is nothing in him to counter the pull of the flesh.
Paul gives two characteristics of those who are dead in their trespasses and sins. A person who is in bondage to sin lives…
a. According to the course of this world
i. What this means is that they go along with what the world says is alright to do, say, or think. They live by this selfish rule, “If it feels good do it”. They completely ignore anything they know about God because it gets in the way of what they want to do.
ii. Paul talks about this in Romans chapter 1.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Romans 1:21-23
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.Romans 1:25
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.Romans 1:28-32
b. According to the prince of the power of the air – of course this is the devil himself.
i. Paul is saying that those who are unrepentant sinners, who live in their trespasses and sins, are controlled by the devil himself. And because you are spiritually dead you hold no sway against him. You have no power against him. You are in fact like the frog in the kettle. The evil one slowly turns up the heat under that kettle and for a while you feel all warm and cozy and happy and comfortable thinking that life is just as good as it can be. But satan is a destroyer and that is his only goal for you but he will do it in such a way that it not only feels good but you will be in agreement with many of those around you-if so many others are doing it, it must be okay, right? Wrong! The heat in the kettle is still being turned up and you are lulled into a false sense of comfort and peace until you are destroyed eternally.
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.John 3:19-20
III. You were children of wrath
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.Ephesians 5:6
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,Colossians 3:5-6
We can understand God’s wrath as his holy anger against sin and the judgment that comes as a result. God hates sin. God will judge sinners. That judgment, that penalty, is eternity in hell, separated from God. Here
on earth God’s restraining hand keeps Satan from reeking complete and total havoc. But in hell God will not be there to offer restraint of any kind.
Paul paints a very bleak picture doesn’t he? Remember I said there is good news as well? Paul gives us two little words at the beginning of vs. 4 that change everything. He says, “But God…”and then tells us the good news.
Psalm 40:2 says that God brought up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
The good news is that God did not leave us in the situation that Paul described to us this morning. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for my sin.