We have noted the Prologue in chapter 1:1,2 setting forth the theme of the letter to be grace from God and the peace of God that is the result of that grace. Following the Prologue, we learned the lessons from the message on the Praise in chapter 1:3-13; and then the Prayer in chapter 1:14-23. Today we will begin looking at the –
IV. Proof of changed lives. Ephesians 2:1-13
Which we learn by comparing the old nature of man, those that have not believed and trusted in God, with the new nature – that which God creates in those that put their faith in Him through believing the Gospel of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We will begin with the old nature which we all had in common –
A. Our (mankind’s) Resignation Ephesians 2:1
Men have rejected faith in God and sought to find peace in pleasure because they do not understand that peace only comes through the grace of God. They justify themselves by believing that their actions, which are initially undesirable (forcing themselves to overcome their own physical reactions, such as what happens to them when smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol), are necessary for them to be accepted into popular society. They continue to identify with the Old Testament statement –“…every man did that which was right in his own eyes…” which statement was rephrased later by psychiatrist as “the pleasure principle” and then the popular slogan of the 1960’s “If it feels good, do it”. No matter what statement is used throughout the ages, the truth is that it is sin being lived out in accordance with man’s sin nature b order to reject accountability (it is not my fault, which excuse has been used since the beginning in the Garden of Eden –
Genesis 3:11-12 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
- And which excuse was rejected, then as it is now, because they deliberately chose to follow their own desires, rejecting the commandment of God)
At times, even the most successful feel trapped, but resign themselves to continue on, being encouraged by pride and exercising their choice to please themselves.
Life in Ephesus was no different than life in our time, being filled with pleasure seekers who sought relief from the fear of oncoming death either by diversion or religion. They were ignorant of the fact that they were already dead, not understanding that existence never ceases, only location changes.
Those on the earth who have not believed God and trusted Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will continue to live separated from Him forever, not in a land of pleasure, but in a Lake of Fire.
Those on the earth who have believed God and trusted Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will continue to live with Him forever in His presence in Heaven.
Every person who has God-given eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, at one time, was not living, but was dead through their unbelief.
Multitudes of people believe they are ‘Christians’, that they are going to go to Heaven because their families were ‘Christians’. They believe that they were never “…dead in trespasses and sins…”
Some believe they are ‘Christians’ because they, knowing that they had been doing wrong, determined to change their lives and live better. They may have been able to change their habits but they cannot change their nature and they remain dead in unbelief.
They resign themselves to a ‘wait and see’ belief, “I am okay”.
Whatever the reason, whatever the excuse, the Truth cannot be changed – all are or were “…dead in trespasses and sins…”.
The Apostle John warned how wrong and dangerous this thinking, nationality, relationships, or will, is –
John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood (Your nationality),
John the Baptist refuted this argument –
Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
…” nor of the will of the flesh,…” (Your Parents)
Jesus refuted this argument –
John 4:19-20 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
nor of the will of man, (Adoption, deciding to be a Christian), but of God.
Please turn to and read –
Luke 16:20-24 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
This ‘Rich Man’ is referred to as a good man according to the standard of the world –
He allowed this begger to be laid at his gate each day to beg.
He allowed this begger to receive from that which was off of his own table.
He allowed himself even to be acquainted with the begger – “…send Lazarus…”
This ‘Rich Man’ was, even according to the world’s standard, a better man than the very religious man written about in –
Luke 18:10-11 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
And yet this good man went to Hell, separated from God forever because using one’s will to be good does not change one’s nature, only their actions! He was still under condemnation, separated from God.
God has declared the truth for our good –
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Romans 3:10-18 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one….
And due to their resignation to abide in this world led by their own desires they are described accurately by Paul as those that have –
…no fear of God before their eyes.
Being where they were, as they were, they lived accordingly –
B. Our Resolve
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world,
Men resolve to live according to the circumstances that are before them, not being aware of better things.
Some struggle to live through the day, seeking rest at night and hoping for another day.
Others struggle to maximize their circumstances, accumulating as much as they can each day, might it be prosperity, power, position, or praise – they also are hoping for another day.
I like the translation of the word ‘course’ from the Greek word ‘age’. Both words convey the truth of our living in our present world, as generations before lived in their ‘present world’ and the generations to come will live in theirs.
When I think of a course, I think of playing golf – laid out and controlled beforehand by professionals to keep one on the course. Many of the fairways are difficult, presenting a serious challenge, but enough are easy to encourage continuous play! The easy ones are the most deceiving because they encourage you to keep on playing. It has been planned by the most devious of designers –
“…according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”
In their frustration, from time to time, I have heard golfers scream at the course (“I hate this game” echoing across the fairways), curse the ponds, sand traps, and high grass. I have seen them throw their clubs, bend them, break them, and even throw an entire bag into a lake. I have seen them cheat by moving their ball to a better position when they thought no one was watching. And yet for all of this, they will be paying money to be back on the course next week, after going to the golf store to find better clubs, longer flying balls, more comfortable clothing to help them to be better than they actually are. They will play in the rain and on windy and cold days. They complain about dress rules at work, but will gladly wear whatever the club requires to play on their course. Their entire lives are filled with contradictions and hypocrisy. What resolve they show in this microcosm of society, this course, this life on earth!
All of us were on that course, in that age of the world
Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Next week we will learn of the wonderful message Paul wrote about –
B. Our Rescue
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
But Today, the question is before you – if you are saved by grace through faith, are you thankful that He has moved you from the old life to the new?
Today if you are not saved, you are still in this old life, there is hope for a better life, it is in the Lord and only in Him. Will you turn to Him today?