Summary: Paul, in writing to the Ephesians talks about being “near and far.” Notice that Jesus has brought us all into relationship with one another through faith. What are the steps to being “brought near”?
You’re Not A Stranger Anymore
© 2001, Dr. Roy Mason
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. --EPH 2:13 NASB
Do you ever remember being the “new kid in town”? Going to a new school for the first time is a traumatic experience. Our family was called to serve a church in a new city several years ago. My oldest daughter (in the 7th grade at the time) and I moved to the new city ahead of the rest of the family so we could get her enrolled in her new school in time for the semester start. We lived in a hotel for a few weeks before Mary and Sarah joined us in our new home. I will never forget the frustration I saw on my daughter’s face at the thought of being the “new kid” in school. She was terrified, timid, and touchy. However, in just a matter of days she had made friends, and started to build relationships with several students and a couple of teachers. (I thank God for a Christian school with a Godly administration!) She was accepted because of the common ground on which she stood.
Paul, in writing to the Ephesians talks about being “near and far.” Notice that Jesus has brought us all into relationship with one another through faith. What are the steps to being “brought near”?
Remember your past
Normally heritage is a good thing, but not in relationship to Christ. Paul begins chapter 2 by reminding us: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” (Eph 2:1). The word dead (Gk nekros) literally means a corpse. Most of us think in terms of life and death, but Paul says that we have moved from death to life. Paul is painting a picture of the depravity of man, totally separate and alien to the things of God. Albert Barnes says,
“It simply affirms a fact – that in relation to real spiritual life they were, in consequence of sin, like a dead man in regard to the objects which are around him. A corpse is insensible. It sees not, and hears not … it perceives not.”
Paul is re-enforcing the idea that we were all far off because of the penalty of sin. One of the main reasons many people never come to salvation is simply that they will never admit they are lost. God declares, not only lost, but also dead. Remember where you came from.
Realize the problem
There was a penalty greater than death. Paul says,
“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.” (Eph 2:2-3)
Paul is saying some pretty serious things here. First of all he points out, that as unregenerate men, we were deceived you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (2:2a). John Phillips points out that,
We were so devoid of spiritual life that we were unaware of our deadness to spiritual things. The fact that people are spiritually dead explains much that goes on in the name of religion, philosophy, science, culture, and education even to this day.
Not only were we deceived, we were disobedient; of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience (2:2b). The language that Paul uses here is stronger than the English indicates. He is literally saying that we were sons of, the very child of Satan. We displayed his personality in relationship to the things of God. Remember, children never have to be taught to disobey; it is their very sin nature.
Thirdly Paul points our that we were depraved; Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, (2:3a). The individual apart for Jesus Christ is a defiled and corrupt person. The natural man will fall toward to lowest common denominator. Listen again to Bible teacher, John Phillips:
Fallen human nature gravitates to low things – to gross lusts of the body and contaminating lusts of the mind. Man may seek to disguise this depravity by culture and refinement, but underneath, these lusts burn like a seething volcano that from time to time erupts to his sorrow and shame.
Finally, in this passage, Paul reminds us that we were doomed; “and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (2:3b). We were all in line for the absolute, complete, and final judgment of God. We were sinners by birth, by choice, and by practice. We were doomed to an eternal sentence of death and destruction. We must always realize the problem.