Quite a few years ago a movie was made about nostalgia and reminiscence. It was entitled, "The Way We Were." Paul begins this chapter in the same way. He begins with the way we were. But there is nothing fond or nostalgic about that former condition.
There are three views concerning man and his condition before God. View #1 says, "I'm okay, you're okay." It sees man as basically healthy and with no serious needs outside himself. View #2 says, "I'm okay, you're not so hot." In this view, man is sick but can improve through self effort. He needs a doctor or a coach. View #3 says that we are all dead in sin; that man is dead in his relationship to God and needs a resurrection. It is this third view that is Biblical. It seems a very pessimistic view. And it is pessimistic with regard to its view of man. But is is greatly optimistic with regard to its view of God.
THE WAY WE WERE.
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Notice how this section begins. With the word "AND." This takes us back to the previous chapter. There is a correlation of thought between chapter 1 and chapter 2.
In this chapter, Paul is going to focus upon God's plan of salvation from OUR perspective. To do this, he begins by going back to look at a time when we were lost.
The picture is not a pretty one. Indeed, it seems a rather callous thing that Paul does. How would you like someone to point out all of your past sins? Why does Paul do this? Aren't all of these past sins forgiven and forgotten? Why does Paul dredge them up? It is because you can never fully appreciate the salvation that God has provided until you see the hopeless condition out of which you were delivered. If you ever forget where you WERE, then you will not be able to appreciate where you ARE.
Paul describes the way we were in verses 1-3. There are four aspects to this description. We were Dead, Disobedient, Depraved and Doomed.
Dead: And you were dead in your trespasses and sins (2:1). Disobedient: You formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience (2:2). Depraved: We too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind... (2:3) Doomed: And were by nature children of wrath (2:3).
1. We were DEAD: And you were dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).
This is speaking of spiritual death. Notice that death does not indicate inactivity, but separation. You may have been very active in your spiritual death - most unbelievers are. But you were spiritually dead. There was nothing in you that was connected to God.
Too many times we think of unbelievers as being spiritually sick. Give them a "spiritual pill" and they'll get better. But the Biblical picture of man's condition is much worse than that. He is dead. He doesn't need a teacher. Or a guide. Or a doctor. He needs a miracle. He needs a resurrection.
In the last chapter we read of the power that raised up Christ from the dead. Now we see the importance of that power - it was necessary because YOU were spiritually dead. The same power that raised up Christ from physical death was necessary to raise you up from spiritual death.
2. We were DISOBEDIENT: In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2).
We saw in verse 1 that we were described as DEAD. Here in verse 2 we see that we were among the WALKING dead. We were zombies. And we walked in a set path. It was not in the path of obedience toward God. Our path was in accordance to that which is set against God. Our path was in accordance to two courses.