Ephesians 2:1-10

Jimmy JoEphesians, SermonsLeave a Comment

In a Nutshell…

Read the passage here.

The passage we are looking at today is from Ephesians 2:1-10.  Fortunately, unlike the first two passages we looked at – with their rambling, winding sentence constructions – this is remarkably easy to understand. It basically says two things:

  • We used to be dead
  • Now we are alive

If you are familiar with Christianity at all, you will recognize that this is the heart of the Gospel. We used to be dead in our sins, but now we are alive in Christ.  But let’s take a closer look.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh m and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

When we read something like this, we usually tend to think in terms of sins we commit or don’t commit. We usually tend to think of things like lying and stealing and adultery and murder.  These, and obviously many others, are sins.  We either do them or we don’t.  But read the words again:

“You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

I really like Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message. In it, he translates this:

You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience.

To be sure, it is talking about lying and stealing and adultery and murder. But is that all?

Going through the course Re-Frame that many of the small groups did, something caught my attention. It was an episode talking about work – what it means to be a Christian in the workplace.  And one of the things that someone said was to the effect that our understanding of our work is informed either by the story of the world (non-life) or by the story of God.

So if your work is informed by the story of the world, you will be convinced that the most important thing is productivity, profitability, or promotions. If your concept of success is informed by the world instead of informed by God, you will be convinced that in order for you to be successful, somebody else has to fail.

We may or may not do anything explicitly sinful, but we are letting the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell us how to live.

That’s just one example of how we allow the world to tell us how to live – in the workplace. But it should be fairly obvious that the world intrudes a lot into every other area of our lives.

  1. The world tells us how to live when we think about what we are owed. When we think about I deserve to get this or have that because I worked so hard, or because it’s a basic human right, or because the Jones’ have it, so why shouldn’t I?  In fact, that’s a pervasive worldly attitude – what about me?
  2. The world tells us how to live in relationships when we think about relationships as defined by what makes us happy, who is like us, how we relate to people we disagree with, etc. Instead of understanding relationships as those who are given to us – as a gift; as those who are likewise made in the image of God.  People who are equally broken and equally holy as we are.
  3. The world tells us how to live when we think about what we need. When we have a notion that acquiring is the key to happiness.  It could be things, experiences, people, power, etc.  But the world has convinced us that the more we have, the more we are.

Again, we are not talking about individual actions, per se – though these obviously matter. We’re talking about worldviews.  Who or what informs how you live in and engage with the world?

  1. Is it a world-informed view?
  2. Or is it a kingdom-informed view?

One of the most pervasive and subversive characteristics of our modern culture is that we are incredibly self-centered. But what’s striking is not so much that we’ve become self-centered, but that self-centered-ness has become a positive value.  I’m not saying that people are self-ish (though that’s related).  What I’m saying is that our values have shifted so that all truth is located in the self.

And this is the heart of the worldly perspective. From the beginning, the first sin, the prime sin, is that we try to make ourselves God.

And we haven’t escaped it in the church.  We have often allowed the world tell us what it means to be church, what it means to be Christian.  I’m not going to list all the ways that this has happened, but it doesn’t take too much reflection to see that an awful lot of how we live our Christian lives, how we think about our Christian lives, is not God spoken, but world-driven.

They say that a fish doesn’t know that it’s wet. What does that mean?  Well, it means that a fish, because it literally spends it’s entire life in water, doesn’t know that there is any such thing as not-water.  Wet is the normal state of its existence.  It surrounds and pervades and penetrates everything.

We live, here on earth, before eternity, in a state of non-life.  It surrounds and pervades and penetrates everything.  We spend so much time living in non-life, when life appears, we have no idea how to understand it.  Non-life becomes our normal and we don’t know how to fight it.  We don’t know how to want something more.

But that’s not the end of the story – the second part of this passage tells us:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Jesus Christ has shown us, and has made a way for us to see and live, a different way. He has offered us a gate through which we can escape the trap in which we have been living our entire lives.  He has made a way for us to move from non-life into life.  In fact, He is the way.  He is the truth and he is the life.

And He is all of life. He is not limited in His scope.  It’s not as if the Christian part of our lives are limited by walls or people or schedules.  Christ covers all of our lives.  If you ever catch yourself thinking, or acting as if, God doesn’t have anything to do with this, then you are probably thinking worldly. This is a worldly way of seeing life.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

He made us alive. Even when we were dead, he makes us alive.  He raises us out of non-life, into life. Because of His grace, we have been saved, through faith. And this not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.  God has made the way and he calls us, invites us, to participate in it.  To participate in life.

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