Summary: The beauty of the gospel is displayed as Paul contrasts life before Christ to life in Christ and reveals to his readers a future to look towards and apurpose to live for.
“Dead Man Walking”
Focus: The beauty of the gospel is displayed as Paul contrasts life before Christ to life in Christ and reveals to his readers a future to look towards and a
purpose to live for.
Function: To lead the congregation up close to this huge passage where we can look at it with face upturned in awe and wonder at what God has done.
In coming to the text just read to us, I have to admit to you this morning that I am just a little bit intimidated! This is one of the
most beautiful and grandest texts in all of Scripture! It is HUGE. . . in language . . . in depth . . . in meaning . . . and in scope!
One of my favorite preachers & teachers, Fred Craddock, talks about passages in Scripture that are just too big to preach. Either the
language is so grandiose or the meaning so deep that a preacher can hardly do it justice. But he says, “Texts do not always have to be mastered. There is immense value in taking the hand of a congregation and leading it up close to a huge passage where it can stand with face upturned in awe and wonder. What so many sermons lack is not truth or clarity or relevance, but size.” And so, it is with that in mind that I intend this morning to lead us to this huge passage where we can gaze at it ‘in awe and wonder’ and marvel at just what God has done for us! As I see it, the danger in preaching is in reducing a text
such as this to three points and a poem! There is so much more here that God would have us see!
Here Paul begins making a clear distinction between “life before Christ” and “life in Christ” which will form the basis for much of
the rest of the letter. Look at it again . . .notice the number of contrasts that Paul makes.
1. living in transgressions & sins vs. living in good works prepared by God
2. this world vs. the heavenly realms
3. death vs. life
4. sinful nature (lit. “Flesh”) vs. union with Christ
5. wrath vs. mercy & salvation
6. under the “ruler of the air” vs. seated with Christ
7. by nature vs. by grace
8. not from works vs. thru faith
Paul wants to make sure that the Ephesians understand that this new salvation to which they are called makes a radical
difference in their lives! Its not just a change of status, but a change of life! That’s what chpt. 4-6 are all about! How does this
new salvation play itself out in real life? What does it look like? What difference does it make? You’ll remember that in chpt. 1
Paul has sought to motivate his readers towards that goal by reminding them of the REASON to live for Christ. . . “God . . . has
blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” AND by reminding them from where their
POWER to change comes from . . .”I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the
hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power
for us who believe.” Now Paul turns to reminding the Ephesians of three other things: (1) their past (2) their present (3) their
I. Paul reminds US of ‘How Bad it Was.’
1 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 sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like
the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (NIV)
Notice the language that Paul chooses to use . . .
We WERE Dead. Do you remember your life before you came to know Christ? Was it anything like this? Paul very much
viewed life before Christ as spiritual death! Now, I think Paul was a pretty good fellow! He was a good Jew (a “Hebrew of
Hebrews”, he would refer to himself.), a good Pharisee, a keeper of the law, & zealous for doing what he thought was defending
the faith! (Cf. Phil 3:4-6) He may have been a pretty good guy, but no matter how good he might have been- from the
perspective of his new life “in Christ”, all life “before Christ” is characterized by death! Paul says that he was simply ‘dead’.