Before and After Christ
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. Ephesians 2:4-5
In Ephesians 2, Paul describes two kinds of people. The two groups may look alike. And, at first glance, we may not see any difference in their actions. But one group is spiritually dead and the other is spiritually alive. So how can we tell them apart?
First, look closely at how the two groups live. The spiritually dead meander purposelessly, blowing in the wind. They are comfortable living under “the ruler of the kingdom of the air,” Satan, and maybe even glorifying him! They don’t relate to God; they ignore Him, deliberately disobeying what they know He said to do. They are guided by the ways of this world (vv. 1-2) and give in to the craving of their desires and thoughts (v. 3).
The spiritually alive have purposeful lives and allow the Holy Spirit to guide them. Their relationship with Christ changes them (vv. 4-5). They receive a new nature, are born again by the Spirit of God, and are content to wait for their salvation to be fully revealed someday. They believe in God’s mercy, grace, and kindness demonstrated in Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection and exaltation. Because of this, they know they’ve been given positions in the heavenly realms, even now, in Christ Jesus (vv. 6-7).
Second, look closely at what the two groups do. The spiritually dead boast in their own goodness; they believe they’ve been saved by their good works (vv.8-9). On the other hand, the spiritually alive recognize that God’s gift of salvation is received by grace through faith; it’s not based on anything they have done or will do. And the good works they do have been given to them by God Himself (v. 10).
To which group do you belong? Before you gloat, remember that you were once part of the spiritually dead group, helpless to bring about any change in your condition until God loved you and saved you by showering you with His gifts of mercy and grace.
Have you thanked Him recently for releasing you from the ranks of the spiritually dead and welcoming you into the family of the spiritually alive?
According to Ephesians 2:6-7, what reason does Paul give for God’s purpose in making us spiritually alive?
Compare Paul’s description in Ephesians 2:1-10 of the new life with Jesus’ description of a new birth (John 3:5-8) when He talked with Nicodemus. What similarities and differences do you see?
The KJV uses the word trespass instead of transgression in Ephesians 2:1-3. Meanings for trespass include “to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong; to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin.”* How do these meanings compare to our use of the word trespass as in signs on property, “Do not trespass”? What boundaries has God set for us? How do you respond when you see such a sign on property or in the Bible?
Nancy J. Baker
*“Greek Lexicon :: trespass G264 (KJV).”Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 27 April 2015. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G264&t=KJV