Summary: God took us from major mess and transformed us into masterpiece.
“You used to be so cute, what happened?” Has anyone ever said that when looking at your baby pictures? It’s a joke that never seems to grow old because there’s probably some truth to it. With their big eyes, chubby cheeks, and tiny little fists babies are cuter than most.
Is this what God thought when he looked at you as a baby? In a way yes, because he created you and would have been proud of his handiwork. But as we continue our sermon series on Ephesians we’ll see that God was also revolted by what we he saw. God saw a major mess, spiritually speaking. Thankfully God also did something about that. He has transformed us into a masterpiece. From major mess to masterpiece. Let’s find out how and why God did that as we get a God’s-eye view of our past and present.
The Apostle Paul dives right into matters when he begins our text by saying, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 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. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3). Shows about zombies are all the rage these days. It’s easy to laugh at the portrayal of these make-believe creatures, but God isn’t laughing when he looks at this world because he sees spiritual zombies everywhere. God sees people who are very much alive with physical life and so they run around at recess, they drink coffee, and they cook dinners for the family. But God also sees that from the moment they are conceived, these are people not wired, but warped to follow Satan instead of him. They do so by gratifying their sinful cravings. And what’s more, says Paul, we were once one of them.
Really? Were you once that bad off? I remember thinking that I was part of pretty good concert band in junior high school. This was not that long after the first Star Wars movie came out so we proudly played that movie’s theme song. I thought we sounded really good, but if I would now listen to a tape of my band playing that piece, I would cringe at all the wrong notes we played, and all the poor phrasing and breath control. The fact that we were still second and third-year players would become painfully evident if you compared our playing of Star Wars to that of a professional orchestra’s playing of the same piece.
In the same way we often look at our lives and think that we’re handling it pretty well. But if you are to compare our actions to God’s standards, it’s not hard to see how we are not as good as we think. For example God wants us to speak kind and encouraging words to one another, but what comes more naturally are the putdowns. God wants us to put the best construction on what others say and do, but we find it easier to jump to negative conclusions. We were and continue to show ourselves to be a major mess. Like roadkill we ought to have been scraped into God’s rubbish bin a long time ago.
But listen to what God did instead. Paul writes: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 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” (Ephesians 2:4-7).
If you’ve been playing outside in the sprinkler on a hot summer day, Mom won’t let you back into the house until you have first hosed the dead grass and mud off the bottom of your feet. You would think that God would require us to do the same spiritually—that we would have to do our best to hose off the sins that pollute us from the bottom of our hearts. But remember the God’s-eye view of reality Paul just gave us a moment ago. He said we were dead in our sins, not just hurt or wounded by them. We weren’t like the soldier who gets shot in the leg, but can still somehow manage to crawl to safety. Sin shot us through the heart dropping us where we were, unable to move from our position as Satan’s eager followers.