Summary: Because God loved us, He gave us wondrous gifts... but why did He go to such lengthes to tell us how wicked we’d been before we recieved those gifts?
OPEN: A young, married Bible College graduate and his bride were unpacking in their first parsonage. The young bride showed the young preacher a box and told him that he had to promise never to look in it. It was her personal box. He made the promise, but after 25 years he happened to see it on the shelf in the closet. He opened it and found 3 eggs and $1500 in cash.
That night, his curiosity got the better of him and he admitted to his wife that he had looked in the box. He asked her to explain the eggs and the money.
She replied: “Every time you preached a bad sermon, I put an egg in the box.”
The preacher felt pretty good about only 3 bad sermons in 25 years. “But, what about all that cash,” he asked.
She replied: “Whenever I got a dozen eggs I sold them.”
QUESTION: Do you think that would have troubled her husband?
What would have troubled him so much?
ANSWER: He’d have been troubled because - while his wife had a great gift to give him - he would have preferred a gift that would have he would have earned by his good work.
"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.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved."
NOTICE what this tells us:
1st (vs. 1) We were dead in our sins
2nd (vs. 2) We were under the power of the ruler of the Kingdom of the air (Satan)
3rd (vs. 3) We once lived satisfying our sinful cravings… and we were objects of wrath
I. Now, why would Paul start out his description of the gifts God had given us by telling us how evil we have been in the past?
ANSWER: Because he wanted to drive home how undeserving we are of the gifts he’s going to describe in the rest of the chapter. In fact, Paul reinforces this message in verses 8 and 9:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."
Why would it be important for us to know that?
Why would Paul go to such lengths to prove to us that we don’t deserve God’s gift?
Because, there are people in the church never seem to comprehend that they DON’T deserve God’s gifts. In fact, sometimes they even believe they somehow deserve what they have in the church.
ILLUS: I have observed 2nd and 3rd generation church members who treat the church and their relationship with God as though it were something that was their birthright… They "owned" these things because of their parents’ or grandparents’ faith.
For example: I once knew of an Elder who became an Elder simply because his father had been one. It was his "birthright." And the man was definitely not Elder material. He was disrespectful of aged mother, and even his kids had no respect for him.
It is of great importance that we realize that we have no "right" to the salvation God has given us through Jesus Christ. Without that realization we can never fully appreciate and respond to the gracious gift of Christ’s power in our lives.
That’s why Paul goes to such lengths to tell us, that before God got hold of us, we…
1st (vs. 1) … were dead in our sins
2nd (vs. 2) … were under the power of the ruler of the Kingdom of the air (Satan)
3rd (vs. 3) … once lived satisfying our sinful cravings…And we were objects of wrath
II. Now contrast that with what Paul describes as our status AFTER salvation
(Reread Ephesians 2:4-10) "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.