Summary: The truth about God is either a total bummer or a tremendous blessing. Which will it be for you depends on how you respond to Paul's message in Ephesians 2.
In my days as a television reporter I had the dubious distinction to be the last reporter to visit Oregon’s death row before it was closed off to all public access. I can see why. Death row was in the innermost parts of the Oregon State Penitentiary. Through many locked and bared doors there exists a prison within a prison. The men there live in a long row of cells. They get one hour of daylight in a small caged in area outside. But what is so sad about it is that these men have no hope. They are going to die someday; they spend their time just waiting. It is a depressing and lonely place.
In many ways we as humans are just like the men on Oregon’s Death Row. The only real difference is that many don’t realize they are condemned to die. They live on humanity’s death row but think life is just fine.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, you can’t know how good you have it until you know how bad things really were. And for humanity apart from the Messiah, things are bad indeed. Paul, as he begins Chapter 2 of his letter to the Ephesians, paints a pretty depressing picture to show the good news of God’s love. The purpose is so that we can really see the contrast too and know how much God has really done for us.
The word “dead” is the Greek nekros which means “corpse”. In a real sense we were all dead men walking, like those on Death Row. We might have had physical life, but our souls were dead stones when it comes to being able to connect with God.
Why were we dead? God breathed life into us in the Garden of Eden. We traded that life away and became dead spiritually and eventually physically. We became separated from our Creator. Paul uses two terms to talk about that separation: trespasses and sins. A “trespass” is a lapse and comes from the word “to fall beside.” We saw that word also back in Chapter 1, verse 7. In a way, a trespass is something we do that is counter to the character of God. We see God’s character and we “fall” by disobeying it. Sin means: “to miss the mark.” A sin is our sheer lack of ability to live up to God’s goodness. So, like what Paul said in Romans 6, we don’t do the things we ought to, and do the things we ought not to do.
As I’ve said previously, Sin is anything that God would not do, think, or say. Anyone who sins cannot exist in His presence and will experience the just penalty for sin, which is eternal separation from God. When God remakes this universe, only those like Him will be able to exist there.
In the Garden of Eden our forebears Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God and through the act of believing the serpent rebelled against God. That event put into the DNA of humanity a rebellious nature that we are all born with and cannot escape on our own.
Dr. Richard Booye has some good thoughts about the nature of evil and how Adam and Eve’s attitudes and actions in the Garden brought about evil in the human soul: