Dead

There is a popular song out right now, which I very much like, but there is a particular line in it that falls short.  Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “You were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

Note that Paul is speaking specifically to Christians, as we can clearly see in Ephesians 1:1.  So, here we see the spiritual state of a believer before regeneration.  The word “trespasses”, according to the ESV Study Bible refers to “violations of divine commandments”, and the word “sins” refers to “offenses against God in thought, word, or deed”.  But the key word that jumps out at me is “dead”.  In the Greek, this is the word nekros, which in this context means “devoid of life, inanimate”.

The song I mentioned in the beginning asks, “What can take a dying man and raise him up to life again?”  Why does it fall short?  Because before we believed on the Lord, it wasn’t as if we were merely spiritually dying; we were absolutely dead.  Let me ask you a question, if I may: what exactly can dead people do?  Answer: nothing.  Dead people can do nothing except be dead.  That is the thought here.  Before we were saved, we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and as a result of that, in order for us to come to Christ, we needed to first be given new life.

Later on in Ephesians 2, we read, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved” (v5).  This, my friends, is perhaps the most wonderful verse in the Bible.  Combined with verse 1, the thought is that we were dead, and God in His grace and mercy spiritually gave us life.  It wasn’t by anything we did.  It wasn’t even our faith that caused our salvation.  Notice in verses 8 and 9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

There was nothing that we have done or could have done that would have earned salvation.  Once again, we were completely lifeless.  The only conclusion that we could arrive to is that God’s grace for those who are saved is completely unconditional.  There is not even the condition of faith!  After all, can a dead man even think, much less have faith?  But hold on; doesn’t verse 8 seem to require faith for salvation?  Yes.  We are saved by grace through faith.  Faith seems to precede salvation.  But then we get the key to that in the next part: “this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God“!  Even the faith in God that is required of us to be saved is given by Him!

Imagine I were selling you my car.  The price tag is–let’s say–$15,000.  You look at your bank account, and you have $0.  I then proceed to give you–as a free and unconditional gift–$15,000 dollars, with which you buy my car.  Did you buy my car?  It is in this way that we have believed in Jesus Christ.  Even our faith is a grace!  Praise God that while we were dead in our sins, God made us alive in Christ and has caused us to believe the message of the cross.  For without Him, I know that I’d still be dead.  You?

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2 thoughts on “Dead

    1. Good question! And it is also something that early believers wondered. Here is what Romans 6 says:

       1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
       5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

       12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

       15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
       20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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