Summary: By recognizing the symptoms, we can smell the stench of death and allow Christ to bring us to new life in Him.
1. Symptoms of death
a.The first symptom is a dead nature (2:1)
b.The second symptom is a dead walk (2:2)
c.The third symptom is dead conduct (2:3)
2. Qualities of life
a.The first quality is living hope (2:4-7)
b.The second quality is living grace (2:8-9)
c.The third quality is living works (2:10)
Back in the fall we began to notice something about our house. Not the whole house, just the upstairs part. It started off just barely noticeable. Then it got worse and worse. Until finally we could hardly stand it. There was no denying it. Our house stunk. More specifically, our upstairs stunk and it was beginning to drift downstairs. So my wife went on patrol. She traced the stench to a closet upstairs—and then hollered for me. It turned out to be a little tiny mouse that was dead underneath some things in that closet. I have no idea how so much stink could come out of something that small, but it did. It did because it was dead. And dead things stink. Death produces an odor that is like nothing else in this world. In our text today, Paul starts by describing the way the Ephesian Christians were before they were saved. He said they were dead. They were dead, but Paul rejoiced in the fact they had turned from death to life. Just like the stench of death sticks in our nostrils and makes us turn away, I want us to turn away from death this morning. I want each of us to smell that stench of death and allow Christ to bring us to new life in Him. In order to do that we’re going to first look at three symptoms of death, and then we’ll look at three qualities of life. The first symptom of death is a dead nature. Look with me in verse 1
A dead nature. Notice that the words, “hath He quickened” are in italics in the King James. That means that they were added by the translators. Look at the force of the verse without those words added: “And you, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Paul isn’t mincing words here. He’s telling these people exactly how it is. Before Christ had saved them, they had a dead nature. Notice that he says, “you who were dead IN trespasses and sins.” He didn’t say they were dead BECAUSE of trespasses and sins. Now, I’m very sure that they had committed sin. Everyone commits sin. We have all told a lie at one time or another in our lives. Oh, you don’t remember? Here let me remind you—“Honey do I look fat in these pants?” The bottom line is we have all committed sin. But that’s not what Paul is talking about here. Yes, committing sin is a bad thing. But that’s not the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem goes much deeper than our actions. The heart of the problem is that we have a sin nature. We are IN trespasses and sins. We are in trespasses and sins from birth, because we are born with a sin nature. A person lies because in his heart he is a liar—not the other way around. A person steals because in his heart he is a thief. And we sin because in our very nature, we are sinners. Dead in trespasses and sins. By using the words trespasses and sins, Paul wasn’t marking off two distinct categories. He was using two words that mean nearly the same thing. And he’s using them together to point out the total scope of our depraved and wretched nature. Totally depraved from birth. Before Christ, our lives reek with the stench of a dead nature. That is the first symptom of death—a dead nature. The second symptom of death is a dead walk. Look in verse 2.
A dead walk. That sounds like it doesn’t make sense. It sounds like I’m talking about one of those old black and white zombie movies. Well, I’m not. A lot of times when we think about what the Bible means by a person’s walk, we think it’s only talking about the things we do. Do this and do that, and you’re walking with Christ. On the other hand, do this and do that, and you’re walking with the devil. But when the Bible talks about our walk, it speaks of more than just what we do or don’t do. It speaks of our entire being—our thoughts and mindsets. Our worldview. The way we think about things that allows or causes us to act the way we do. Think about it—before your feet take you in a certain direction, your brain had to tell them which way to go. And your brain told them which way to go based on a whole set of different variables. Your decision to move in that direction was shaped by your personal experiences, desires, and motivations. That’s what the Bible means by your walk. All of those experiences, desires and motivations. All of those ways of thinking. All of those things that drive you. And Paul is reminding these Christians he’s writing to that before Jesus saved them, their walk was dead. They walked according to the course of the world. They looked at things the same way the cruel world around them did. That meant a lot to them because they were being persecuted by that cruel world. And Paul told them that’s the same way they used to think. And then he takes it one step further. He tells them that they used to walk according to the prince of the power of the air. And, just in case there was any confusion as to who that was, he clarified it by saying the prince of the power of the air is the spirit who works in the sons of disobedience. In other words, Paul is telling them that their mindset used to be the same as Satan’s. Well, what is Satan’s mindset? What is his walk? His walk is that he wants to be like the Most High. Ever since right before he fell, Satan wanted to be God. He wanted to be the one seated on the throne—not God. His walk was a walk of pride. A walk of self-sufficiency. A walk that says, “I can do it myself—I don’t need you God.” Before Christ, our lives reek with the stench of a dead walk. A walk that elevates our selves to the throne of our lives. A walk that shakes our fist at God and said, I will not have this man rule over me. A walk that we shared with Satan himself. Dead nature, dead walk. The third symptom of death is dead conduct. Look in verse 3: