And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
And you . . . . But God . . . .
Let it be deeply imprinted upon our souls that we were dead. We were dead in trespasses and sins, hopelessly lost. There was no strength in us nor will to be saved, nor was there anyone among all mankind that could save us from spiritual death or deliver our bodies from corruption. We were without God in a world consigned to damnation.
But God in His sovereign power and because of His eternal love has prepared His only begotten Son, and raised Him from the dead to be the Savior of His people. Salvation is of the Lord through our Lord Jesus Christ. For “God, Who is rich in mercy, for that great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, . . .and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
“By grace are ye saved.”
Born dead in sin.
Throughout this entire passage in which is so clearly depicted our depravity and the guilt of our sins there is a repeated reference to the fact that we belong to the human race that is fallen in Adam. Our death-state goes back to our fall in our first father Adam.
In time past “we walked according to the course of this world.” From the time of our early infancy we followed the pattern laid down by this present evil world. Their standard became our standard, their customs our customs, their way of life and sinful practices became ours. We made ourselves conform to evil men in their dress, in their ambitions, in their sinful lusts and pleasures. The approval of men meant more to us than the favor of God.
“Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of the flesh.” The apostle now includes himself and the saints of all ages. We all, without exception, fell in Adam. His disobedience, along with Eve’s, was the beginning of a life devoted to sinful lusts. He refused to be dependent upon God, craving his independence. He scorned the thought of being submissive, openly defying God’s command. He despised the garb of a servant, seeking to be king apart from God, claiming the whole creation as his own. He transgressed God’s covenant; therefore God gave him over, and the whole human race with him, to sinful pride and carnal lusts.
“And we were by nature children of wrath, even as others.” The “others” are the whole fallen human race that still lies under the dominion of sin in the bondage of death. By our very nature, which we receive from our parents, we are enemies of God, prone to hate God and the neighbor, inclined to all evil and incapable of any good. We are spiritual stillbirths. Dead in sin from the moment of our conception. What a terrible indictment! Yet how true!
Dead in sin.
Dead in sin, lifeless, like a stinking corpse that is laid away in the grave. Death is the antithesis to life. Life belongs only to God. God is Life. He alone possesses life and immortality. Therefore God is also the only source of life. This is true as far as our physical existence is concerned, for in Him we live and move and have our being. This is also true of our spiritual existence. For “this is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). For us life, true life, is to share the covenant fellowship of the one only, ever blessed God, to be like Him, to experience His approval and blessings, and to tell His praises. Death is the opposite. Death is the bitter experience of God’s disapproval, that He turns His back to us, so that we no longer see the light of His countenance, that He shuts His ears to our crying and banishes us from His presence with the terrible indictment, “Depart from me, thou worker of iniquity, I know thee not.” That was in times past our woeful experience, “Without Christ, being aliens of the commonwealth of Israel (the church), and strangers of the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (verse 12).
As if that were not bad enough, our text adds that we were dead in trespasses and sins. We were deadbecause of sin, the first sin of paradise. We also live our lives in the body as spiritually dead. Alive, yet dead. A seeming contradiction, yet a sad reality. Though we live out our lives in our bodies, we are spiritually alienated from the fountain of life, given over to sin and death. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh . . . . Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 5:7). Trespasses are departures from the law of God, the narrow way that leads to life eternal. We all like sheep wandered off in our own willful way in rebellion against the living God. “Sins” refers to the depravity of our nature, which corrupts our whole walk of life. We reveled in sin, boasted of our evil deeds. God was not in all our thoughts. Even to entertain a thought of God was repulsive to us. Our desires, our thoughts, our words, our actions and deeds all arose out of the corrupt fountain of our evil nature. “Knowing the judgment of God that they which commit such things are worthy of death.” We not only did the same, but had pleasure in those that do them. (See Rom. 1:32.)
We walked “according to the course of this world.” Instead of walking in the light of God’s words and precepts as children of light, we chose our company with the children of darkness, letting Satan and his cohorts determine our way of life, reveling in sin and bringing ruin upon ourselves in soul and body.
For it is “the prince of the power of the air” who sets the pattern for the children of darkness. This prince is none other than Satan, the wicked opponent of God, who is the devil, the cunning deceiver of mankind. He wants to be as God. He is determined to wipe out the name of God and the cause of Christ from the face of the earth. He has a host of demons at his command, who help him to carry out his foolish ambition. These are the unseen, invisible powers, which do not have flesh and blood as we do, but who surround us wherever we are. The air is full of them. It is very well possible that each of us has his personal demon, who makes it his business to keep a watch over us to detect our weaknesses and the best moment as well as best manner to attack. Yet this whole host of armies of hell could do nothing, if it were not for the fact that we are willing subjects to all their whims and wiles. The devil and his host tell us that service of God is bondage. Life, liberty, and happiness are found only in their service. He and his host travel incognito. They prefer to be ignored. They distract all attention from God, from eternity, and especially from hell. They create a “now” generation that says, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for that is real living.” The victims of that host silence the voice of conscience until it is hardened, callous, and almost speechless.
This becomes evident especially now as we approach the end of the ages. Men are lovers of self more than lovers of God. Yes, they can be nice, friendly people as long as this serves their own selfish ends. They have a form of godliness, but they deny the true and living God, who is the source of their very existence. They follow the dictates of the evil world, which, in turn, follows the dictates of Satan. Openly they commit and condone the grossest immoral acts. Murders, rape, stealings, robberies are common occurrences. We see before our very eyes that the measure of iniquity of an evil world is rapidly being filled. The day of final reckoning is not far off. And to think-among them we also had our conversation in times past!
Children of wrath, even as others.
God’s wrath is His eternal love for all that is holy, just, and true. Therefore God’s wrath is His just defense of His own glorious being and name. God hates not only sin, but also all the workers of iniquity who sin against His holy name. God’s wrath rests on the sinner as well as on his deeds. Children of wrath are we according to our very nature and being. We are born out of wrath, only to increase that wrath daily by the guilt of our sins. We deserve only to be cast into everlasting torments of hell under the righteous judgment of our God.
Humbly we join the apostle in confessing that the guilt of Adam is our guilt and the depravity of mankind is our depravity. We bow before the Scriptures which teach us that “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that (because) all have sinned.”
Humbly we confess with Paul that in our former conversation we followed the dictates of an evil world, which obeyed the dictates of Satan. We bore the image and likeness of ugly Satan in open defiance of our God. The name “children of wrath” applied to us as well as to all those who perish forever in their sins. We were certainly no better. There was no reason whatever that God should love such wretches as we were.
But God. . . .
God is GOD, the all-glorious, holy, righteous, ever-blessed and adorable God. He loves us with an eternal, sovereignly free, unchangeable love in Christ Jesus. He has quickened us, raised us from the dead, and even exalted us to heavenly perfection with Christ in His blessed presence!
How deeply humiliating it is, to think that He loved us when we were still enemies.
How amazing are the riches of His grace and the working of the power of His infinite might!
How wonderful, occasion for everlasting thanks, that we should be delivered from such horrible depths of sin and exalted to such a high position of glory in our Lord Jesus Christ.
O the depths of the riches of knowledge, of wisdom, of power, of grace, of mercy, yea, of boundless, eternal love. To God be the glory forever as we confess in sincere gratitude: Saved by Grace!