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).