Summary: ... follow along as we step through this text together you will learn that moving from the living dead to being truly alive gives you reason to “LIVE out LOUD”.
From Living Dead to Truly Alive
Today’s text is perhaps the single greatest explanation of how we arrive at a “LIVE out LOUD” Christianity in the Bible. Paul explores the radical transformation we experience because of God’s resurrection salvation – from death to life.
Today, I want to talk through the text with a walk through observation and explanation approach. So, if you would bring your Bible’s out, and follow along as we step through this text together you will learn that moving from the living dead to being truly alive gives you reason to “LIVE out LOUD”.
1. We were the living dead
If someone handed you a couple of pills and said, "Swallow these," would you do it? Not likely. However, if you were in a medical office and the person speaking was a doctor who had just told you that you would die unless you took the pills, you would be more likely to do so.
Sometimes you have to know how bad the bad news is before you can appreciate the good news. Paul tells us how bad the bad news is in verse 1: "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins." We were the living dead. Dead. Not sick, not dying, not having an off day—dead. What can dead people do to help themselves? Not much . . . in fact, absolutely nothing (LAB Commentary). Let’s continue:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 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. 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.” (vs. 1-3)
At first glance Paul’s description of life without Christ appears too harsh. Is everyone as degraded as he suggests? Does not life also have joy and happiness in it? Are there not many good, ethical people for whom this description does not fit? Is everyone destined for God’s wrath?
Paul is not denying the value of creation or of humanity created in the image of God. He is not saying all human beings are worthless, nor is his primary concern what will happen on Judgment Day. His concern is to contrast the plight of humanity without God with the privilege of humanity with God and in Christ.
We would like for Paul’s assessment to be a harsh overstatement of reality. Unfortunately, Paul’s estimate is not so harsh when we breakdown what he says.
As Paul looks back on the former life, his first assessment is that it is dead, that is spiritual death, a life lived outside of a relationship with God. A life so lived is a meaningless life not worth living.
I’ve never been one who was into the horror movie scene. When all the slasher movies of the 70’s and 80’s began to come out, I didn’t see a one. When they were released on VHS, I watched only about 15 minutes of one of the Jason movies. Those movies just didn’t do it for me.
However, when I was around 6 to 8 years of age, I would sometimes stay up with my oldest sister late nights on Saturday and watch “Creature Feature” on WGN – B movies to the hilt, with all of the classic monsters – Dracula, Frankenstein, the Were Wolf, and the Thing. But, nearly without exception, what scared me the most were the Zombies – the soulless living dead – those who when in at a moment of lucidity ask the living to deliver them from their dark life of death.
That resembles the picture Paul is painting here - The soulless zombie wandering lifelessly through this existence. “These people are physically alive, but their sins have rendered them spiritually unresponsive, alienated from God, and thus incapable of experiencing the full life that God could give them.” (LAB Commentary)
So, how does Paul arrive at this assessment? God is the sources of life and the only way to truly experience life is in relationship to the one who created it. A life outside of that relationship, a life separated from God, is a life that is dead.
The context for their lifelessness is the sins in which they take residence. Sin is their home – that is what that little word ‘in’ denotes. That is the place where they eat and sleep, and live their lives.
Ernest Best describes 2:1 as “a realized eschatological conception of death.” What he means by that is: death, the end result of a life lived outside of a relationship with God, has invaded and permeated the present. Sin has both caused death and provides evidence of spiritual death. Because of sin, peoples’ relationship with God is broken and they are powerless to change anything. We have tried to find life in ourselves and in our own desires, and in the process have cut ourselves off from the giver of life.