World English Bible translation
2:1You were made alive when you were dead through your trespasses and sins, 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience; 2:3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved),
Today's scripture and tomorrow's represent a section that speaks to the power of the grace of God. The theme of the first chapter was that through the sacrificial death of Christ and His redemption of His body, the church, God was revealing the mystery of His grace to all creation. This second chapter explains how the grace of God impacts the life of every believer.
Paul writes that, "you were dead". In what way were these believers formerly "dead"? He goes on to say that they were dead "through your trespasses and sins," but this only tells us the reasons that they were dead. It does not tell us in what way the "quality" of their lives might be described as "dead".
For Paul, and other New Testament writers, the life lived separated from God is consistently described as death. There is no hope separated from God. There is no peace, no joy, and no love. All that awaits men isolated from God is certain judgment. This is a terrible state, but Paul goes on to say that the truth is even worse.
Not only were they dead in their sins, they were ACTIVELY opposed to God. They had aligned themselves with "the course of this world". All of impersonal, fallen creation resists God to some extent. "…the course of this world…" represents all that is opposed to God's purpose and plan. And more, they had aligned themselves with "the prince of the powers of the air". The writings of scripture consistently speak of spiritual beings whose sin has placed them in direct conflict with God. The "prince" of these "powers" would be that being named in other portions as Satan. But, Paul's purpose here is not to teach about demons and powers, but to express that these people who are now believers were once actively opposed to God and consorted and followed His adversaries. They lived among the "sons of disobedience".
They followed the lust and desires of their flesh and of their unenlightened minds. Without hope and without God's life in them, they followed wherever their hearts and their minds led them. They were "by nature children of wrath". They were not just a little astray. They had not been misled. They were not basically good people who had just done a few things wrong. Their complete nature brought them in conflict with the Holy God.
So, what was God's response to these rebels? God does something completely unexpected. Paul writes that God is "rich in mercy" and that He has a "great love with which he loved us". Because of His mercy and love, even though these people were completely insubordinate with Him, God "made us alive together with Christ". And, not just these believers, Paul includes himself. V.3 "…WE also ALL once lived in the lust of our flesh…" V.5 "…WE were dead through our trespasses…"
I am absolutely convinced in my own heart that at one time I was dead in my sins. I have no doubts that I was an enemy of God. But, God had mercy and love for me. Though I did not deserve it, He opened my eyes to the love and mercy that are behind the death and life of Jesus Christ. He has given me, and billions of others, "life". He has given us that life by making us alive "together with Christ". In God's view, there is only one resurrection. He has already raised the body of Christ. All who will be given new life were raised "together with Christ". We are HIS BODY. He is alive and sits at the right hand of the Father in the heavens.
This is the grace of God. He stoops to lift those who do not deserve anything but His wrath. And, instead of His anger, He shows them His love and His mercy. He redeems a people of His own for purposes of His own. He reveals Himself in the unmerited favor He showers on us. By grace you have been saved!
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