GOD’S POWER HAS CHANGED OUR OLD POSITION (DEATH) TO OUR NEW POSITION (LIFE);
GOD’S POWER HAS CHANGED OUR OLD PRACTICE (SIN) TO OUR NEW PRACTICE (HOLINESS: GOOD WORKS)
I. (2:1-3) GOD’S POWER DEALT WITH OUR OLD POSITION (DEATH)
A. We were DEAD — Ephes 2:1
Death means separation. In this case, spiritual death is total, absolute, complete and full separation from God. We were absolutely powerless, helpless, unable, incapable to think, feel, or will anything to do with God or for God because we were dead in trespasses and sins. The Greek word translated “trespass” means “stepping over the mark or boundary” — being a rebel. The word in the original for “sins” here means “missing the mark”, “falling short” or being a failure. In our dead state, (separated from God) we were both rebels and failures.
Paul strives to clarify the fact that being fully dead, we were unable to come to God unless He provided everything — including faith. We were capable in our old position to provide nothing toward God. We could not will to accept Christ because our natural will was inoperative. We were lost, undone, depraved, and unable to come to God.
Many believers do not like this teaching because they desperately want to be able to do something to earn or merit their salvation. Consequently, many present-day fudamentalist preachers teach that man is not fully dead, but can, in some weak measure, receive Christ if the man so chooses. The teaching that every man is just as capable as any other man to accept Christ if he so desires forms the basis of our begging people to please give God a try. These invitations put God on the passive end of the situation, whereas God is in reality on the active end, drawing the men and women that He has already chosen to be saved.
Note: If man is not fully, totally, and absolutely dead then Christ did not really die! This statement is supported by the parallel that Paul makes between Christ’s physical death in Chapter one and our spiritual death in Chapter two. The two deaths stand or fall together in this text. Just as the power of God raised Christ from physical death, so did the power of God raise us from our spiritual death. Consequently, if man is not spiritually dead than Christ did not physically die because both deaths are intimately connected in this text. Our Arminian friends cannot have it both ways; either death is complete in both situations (ours and Christ’s) or death is not complete. The parallel between the two in this text cannot be ignored unless one is merely willing to sustain their own view regardless of the facts.
B. We were ENSLAVED — Eph 2:2
1. We walked according to the age of this world.
The Greek word for “world” means “principalities that govern this world system: lust, greed, fear, hate, materialism, sensuality, independence, relativism, etc.”
The Greek word for “age” signifies “time viewed in relation to what takes place in a certain period of time.”
So in our enslavement, we walked according to the ungodly worldly principles that were emphasized in our time. For instance, in the 20’s sensuality was not as emphasized as it is today. Materialism is more of a problem today than it was in the 50’s. In our unsaved state, we were enslaved by those very principles that governed the unsaved world in that specific period of time in which we lived.
2. We walked according to the principles of Satan.
We walked according to the “prince of the power of the air.” We were enslaved to Satan. This doesn’t mean that we were demon possessed or demon affected, but it means we operated under some of the same principles that govern Satan’s activities. Some of these activities include: lying, unbelief, pride, deceit, wickedness.
3. We walked according to the lusts of the flesh and of the mind.
The Greek word for “lust” means “strong desire.” It can be used in both a positive and negative context, but usually is negative in connotation.
Lust of the flesh — the phrase “of the flesh” qualifies the lust in which we walked in our unsaved state.
There are four main definitions of flesh:
a. General: whole body of mankind; “all flesh is as grass …” This refers to man in general.
b. General: the covering of our bones.
c. Particular: the whole human nature: that nature which Scripture represents as against God. (Gal. 5:17)
d. Particular: sensuous part of our nature or the desires of the physical body.
In Ephesians 2:3 Paul refers to option “d” = the desire of the body. We were enslaved to these sensuous desires: eating, drinking, sex, etc. In other words, we abused these God-given blessings.
The phrase “of the mind” indicates the lusts of ambition, knowledge, independence, etc.
Summary: So we were not only dead, but enslaved to the principles of the world system, to Satanic principles, and to the lust of our flesh and of our minds.
In other words, Paul pictures unsaved man a corpse wrapped around and around with strong unyielding chains making it absolutely impossible to initiate salvation.
If this were not enough, Paul adds one more element to the picture.
C. We were CONDEMNED BY BIRTH
“And were by nature children of wrath even as the rest.” This phrase looks at origins. We were depraved, polluted, corrupted, evil, sinful, by birth. The Psalmist said “In sin did my mother conceive me …” Psalms 51:5; Other passages teach the same truth — Romans 3:9; Gal. 3:22.
Consequently, the Bible clearly teaches that man cannot come to God on His own. In our natural state, we were completely dead, totally enslaved by the world, the flesh and the devil, and fully and rightfully condemned.
Unless one has a clear understanding of this helpless spiritual position it is impossible to fully understand or appreciate the grace of God. “Only to the cross I cling, nothing in my hand I bring.”
II. (:5-6) GOD’S POWER PROVIDES A NEW POSITION (LIFE)
A. (:5) We were MADE ALIVE
The Greek word here is a combination of three words meaning “to make,” “life” and “with.” God made us alive with Christ. Note that the work was done by God — not us. We were made alive with Christ.
The basis of this new life is grace and the instrument through which it was accomplished was faith.
B. (:6) We were RAISED UP WITH CHRIST
This means that we partook of his resurrection life. When Christ was raised physically, we were raised spiritually.
C. (:6) We were SEATED WITH CHRIST IN THE HEAVENS
We have positionally experienced the victory that Christ now enjoys in heaven. Total victory in Him; total victory is also ours.
Since sin is associated with out old position of death — the contrast — holiness is associated with our new position of life.
III. GOD’S POWER HAS CHANGED OUR OLD PRACTICE
The Old Practice Characterized by the Ungodly Principles of:
1. Trespasses: active rebellion, sins of commission.
2. Sins: passive sins, sins of omission.
Materialism, sensuality, independence, greed, lust, etc.
Pride, deceit, hate, fear, lying, evil acts
Abuse of eating, drinking, sex, etc.
Ambition, pride, independence, etc.
IV. GOD’S POWER HAS ESTABLISHED OUR NEW PRACTICE
CHARACTERIZED BY GODLY PRINCIPLES OF:
Holiness is associated with resurrection life. The very fact that we are identified with Christ in his resurrection and ascension into heaven associates us with holiness or freedom from sin.
B. Glorifying God
The purpose of the new life and new position is to ultimately bring glory to God (2:7). Verses 8-10 give two reasons why our salvation will glorify God:
1. (:8-9) because our salvation is entirely by grace and not by our own works. This also includes our faith.
2. (:10) because we are his workmanship to be displayed in eternity as his trophies
– We are God’s workmanship
– We were created in Christ Jesus by God; we did not create ourselves
The Greek word “workmanship” means the product of a person’s hand. In the Old Testament the same concept referred particularly to the creation of a poem. If we are God’s workmanship, we are the product of his hands or his poem.
C. Holiness in General; Good Works in Particular
Note that we were created “unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
This verse more specifically defines God’s concept of our holy walk; the type of holiness in which we as believers are supposed to walk in is good works.
Exactly what are some of the good works in which God has ordained us to walk?
A close examination of the terminology “good works” in other contexts helps us to clarify what is meant here.
1. Acts of Responsibility to those over us
Romans 13:3 “Rulers are not a terror to good works.”
Titus 3:1 “Obey magistrates, be ready to every good work.”
Ephesians 6:8 Relationship of servant/employees to their employers
2. Any Practical Deed done to benefit others
Galatians 6:10 “Let us do good to all men as we have opportunity.”
Acts 9:36 “Dorcas, full of good works and almsdeeds.”
(she made coats and garments for others)
1 Timothy 5:10 “Hospitality — washed saints feet, relieved the afflicted”
2 Corinthians 9:8 “Giving money to those in need”
3. Our Ordinary Family Responsibilities
1 Timothy 5:10 “Followed every good work: brought up children”
1 Timothy 2:10 Reference to good works followed immediately by admonition to submission
4. The Practical Use of our Gifts and Abilities or Talents in Active Ministry Towards Others
2 Timothy 2:21 “If a man, therefore, purge himself from these he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and fit for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”