1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
We live in a world that’s always looking for a change for the better. Hundreds of commercials flood our televisions that advertise products or methods for a healthy body that guarantees life changing results. The familiar still shot of before & after have become popular in showing satisfied results of particular products and exercises. The before picture shows how one appeared in the sight of others that didn’t seem to bring happiness in one’s life. But amazingly the after shot shows results that seem to change one’s outlook on life. People are always looking to change their current situations, financial status, or outward appearances. But people have become so caught up in changing things that only help the outward appearance, that millions become or remain spiritually dead every year because the inner man has not received a spiritual conversion!
Let me just go ahead and dive into the water. The fact is that without Christ you are nothing, and at the end of your road awaits death. The only way that you will experience a real life change is if you allow God to come into your heart and give you a spiritual transplant that opens the doors to life eternal. But this truth is denied these days. Men speak of “the better self” and a “fresh start.” But man needs a new heart, not just a new start; a new life, not just turning over a new leaf; a resurrection, not just reformation. You see everybody is in favor of progress; its change they don’t like. But change is necessary in order for someone to move forward, and when you sit back and see where you started and see how far you’ve come, then you can say that you have progressed.
Before a change or a new life takes place within an individual, there is life before conversion. Some people walk around like they’ve been saved all their lives, but the fact is that they lived a life before conversion. Those of you who have given your life to Christ, do you often think about your life before conversion? Some of us would like to forget the lives we led before coming to Christ. Well let me speak for myself, I wish I could erase many things in my past. I’m not saying that we should dwell on the sinful things we once did, but it is often said that we shouldn’t forget where we come from. We shouldn’t hold on to the guilt and shame that our past brought us, but remembering we had a sinful past should encourage us to continue to walk worthy in the vocation wherewith we are called. Many of us still struggle in areas of darkness because we forget about the guilt and shame it once brought us. Also, remembering the life we came from allows us to have compassion for those who are struggling in sin. It keeps us humble in knowing that the absence of the Spirit makes us capable of doing just about anything sinful. Many of us allow our past to dictate our future. But we shouldn’t allow satan to use our past to steal our joy of salvation, but we should rejoice in knowing where God has brought us from.
Paul, the author of our text, pens Ephesians differently than his other epistles. Unlike his other letters Ephesians is more general rather than personal. For example, he’s not defending his apostleship as in I Corinthians; not rebuking fickleness as in II Corinthians; not raising arguments against Judaizers as in Galatians; and not battling Gnosticism as in Colossians. But in Ephesians, Paul covers several themes from God’s purpose to Christian conduct. In our selected scriptures Paul shares with us how believers in Christ were once prisoners of sin and how they were held in bondage. If we let the truth be known, some Christians are still allowing themselves to remain imprisoned by sin even though Christ has already broken their shackles and set them free. They’re living life the same way they were before conversion. If we don’t totally understand what was done for us on the cross and surrender our all to God, then we will remain shackled by sin. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I believe often times we become confused about our identity. As believers we are now new creatures, but if were not sure about the conversion that has taken place, then we will find ourselves doing old things. We can’t allow satan to confuse us, we need to know and understand the new creature we have become. Satan keeps us bound by confusing us about our identity. He wants saints to think they’re sinners and sinners to think they’re saints.
Now for some of you this may be a trip down memory lane, and for others this may be a look at the man in the mirror. But let’s see how Paul describes life before conversion. Keep your road maps out because we’re about to follow a path through God’s Holy Word. In verse 1 Paul states, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Notice the italicized phrase. Often times we see italicized words in passages of scripture. Now, if you never noticed this before, then that can only mean one thing, but I’m not going there. But let’s deal with this italicized phrase first. Notice in verse 1, hath he quickened is italicized. Anytime you see italicized words in the King James Version, it means that the phrase or word does not appear in the original Greek language. These phrases or words are placed in order to make the English read clearer. Here in verse 1 the italicized phrase is added because the verb appears in verse 5 of this chapter, and is used for reference and clarity here in verse 1. So when we start reading from verse 4 into verse 5 we see that it was God who has quickened us or made alive those who were dead in trespasses and sins. So our italicized phrase allows us to see that God was and is responsible for man’s spiritual rising from the dead.
Before I was made alive, I was dead in sin. Walking around, but dead! Living a life, but dead! Born into this world, but dead! A lost soul is viewed as dead in the eyes of God, and only he can quicken that soul and give it life. Many people wouldn’t take their sleeping bags and spend the night in a graveyard, but yet we live around and walk through spiritual graveyards everyday. We shouldn’t be afraid of graveyards because anything in a grave is dead. There may be spiritual graveyards in here this morning, but I don’t see anyone running and hiding. So why do act as though we’re afraid to witness to the lost souls of this world? We need to share the word of God with those who we know are on the path of destruction, because only God can raise their souls from the dead. I know the day you gave your life to Christ you heard a powerful message from the preacher. Maybe you had praying parents that continued to pray for you until they saw a change come. You might have prayed earnestly and repented bitterly, but it was only God who saved you by his grace and filled you with his Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Salvation is by the grace of God, plus nothing!
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Here we see a vivid picture of life before conversion. In life before conversion one has two influences that dictate their course in life, the world and satan who works through the world as well. Paul reminds believers that at one time they walked according to the course of the world. Before conversion, one walked habitually in a wrong path of conduct conforming to the world’s low standard of morality. While in the world some unbelievers constantly play “Simon says”. You know the game where one person stands in front of a group of people and say, “Simon says raise your hand,” and everybody raises their hands. “Simon says raise your other hand,” and everybody raises their other hand. Well the world is Simon and many are doing exactly what the world says. The world says have same sex relationships, so they do! The world says get drunk and do drugs and they do! The world says rebel against your parents, and yes you know they do! But once God sets you apart from the world there is a new game that should be learned called “Jesus says.” It’s sad, but many Christians still playing “Simon says” instead of doing what Jesus says. At the end of time many will find themselves lifting their eyes from hell right next to Simon.
The word course translated means a long series of times, where one corrupt age follows another. In other words, this world has been in sin for ages which can be traced back to the Book of Genesis when sin first entered into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Sin is a powerful thing and there must be some type of powerful force behind it. Paul refers to this force as the prince of the power of the air, also known as satan the other destructive influence in many lives. Some Jews believed that satan and evil spiritual forces inhabited the region between earth and sky. So satan is pictured as ruling an evil spiritual kingdom. Satan has power, how do you think he makes that temptation look so good to you? But satan isn’t all-powerful and he only has what God allows him to have. Satan, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. The power and works of satan can be seen through the unbeliever. The conduct of lost men marks them as children of disobedience. Christians and unbelievers can both be disobedient, but as a child of God our lives shouldn’t parallel that of the unbeliever. We should grow in Christ and be renewed in our mind so that our manner of living is distinguishable from life before conversion.
Finally, Paul concludes his description of a Christian’s former lifestyle by stating what once had control over them. “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Paul let’s us know that nobody was born holy; we were all born with the same fatal condition called sin. We all had our conversation in the lust of our flesh. The Greek word for conversation means to dwell in a place or live. So all believers once dwelled or lived in the lust, lust the desires of that which is forbidden. So they lived in the lust of their flesh. The flesh is our human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence. Therefore in the flesh one has the tendency to sin and is opposed to God. Because God doesn’t force us to walk in righteousness, believers sometimes submit to the desires of the flesh. Although we come short of the glory of God, we shouldn’t live or fulfill the desires of the flesh any longer. At times I might visit your house, but I don’t live there. So it is with sin, we may fall sometimes, but we shouldn’t live a lifestyle of sin. And remember, there is no such thing as visiting 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. That’s not a visit, you living there.
So not only did we live in our lust, but we fulfilled them along with the desires of the mind. Our nature caused us to be labeled as children of wrath, God’s wrath. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. Yes God does love believers as well as sinners, but God hates sin. Those who have not accepted the gift of salvation will face God’s wrath and judgment. But thank God that we as believers were children of wrath. Keyword is were, meaning I no longer have to face the death penalty of sin! The world may say, “Why don’t you have to face the death penalty of sin?” Well my bible puts it like this in verse 4. But God, when I was dead in my trespasses and sins. But God, when I walked according to the course of this world. But God, when I was labeled a child of disobedience and wrath. But God, when I lived in lust and fulfilled the desires of my flesh. But God, was rich in mercy and he loved me. Even when I was dead in sins, he quickened me and made me alive with Christ, and now I’m saved……….. by grace.