Ephesians 2:1-3 NASB
“And you were dead in your offenses and sins, in which you previously 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 previously lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the rest.”
Faithful in Christ Jesus
Paul wrote these words to the saints in Ephesus who were faithful in Christ Jesus. They were chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless. And they were to be for the praise and glory of God. They were those who had been crucified with Christ in death to sin that they might live to Christ and to his righteousness (Eph 1; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-17).
Therefore, Paul could state that they were (past tense) dead in their sins in which they PREVIOUSLY (not presently) walked (conducted their lives). They no longer conducted their lives (their behaviors) according to the course (the path) of this sinful world, for they were no longer under Satan’s control.
It didn’t mean they never struggled with sin again or that they were never tempted to sin, for in Ephesians 4 we read where Paul urged them to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which they had been called. And he encouraged them that they were to no longer be childish, tossed here and there by various winds of doctrine taught by men in deceitful scheming.
And he went on to encourage them that they should no longer walk (conduct their lives) as the ungodly who give themselves up to indecent behavior for the practice of every kind of impurity, because of the hardness of their hearts towards God. For, that is not how they should have learned Christ, if they were taught the truth in Christ Jesus.
So, here he was not assuming that they had all been taught the truth that is in Christ Jesus which teaches us that in reference to our former way of life, that we are to rid ourselves of the old flesh, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds.
He was not assuming that they had all been taught the truth in Christ Jesus that we must then put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. But he wasn’t teaching that this is something we can do in our own flesh. We can’t! This is the working of God’s Spirit in our lives as we yield our lives to Christ.
An Encouragement to Us
So, for us today, this is an encouragement on multiple levels. First, we should make certain that we are “in Christ” in the way that the Scriptures teach, but not just according to selective Scriptures, but according to all Scriptures which teach salvation from sin.
We must realize that faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin that might live to Christ and to his righteousness. Our old way of living should have been put to death with Christ on that cross and we should now be new creations in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (1 Pet 2:24; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
So, we should no longer be living in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Thus, we should be able to say that this is PREVIOUSLY how we lived, not PRESENTLY.
But our salvation from our bondage to sin is not a one-time event for us, although it was for Jesus. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns for us and our salvation is complete.
So, while we still live in these flesh bodies, daily we are to be dying to sin and to self, and daily we are to be walking in obedience to our Lord and to his commands (New Covenant). For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, trains us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives (Tit 2:11-14; Rom 6:1-23).
The other thing this teaches us is that we can’t assume that we are Christians and that heaven is our eternal home based on a one-time experience in our lives or some words we prayed or some confession of Christ we made once in our lives. And we can’t assume everyone who professes faith in Jesus has heard or has believed the truth.
So, even though we may all call ourselves Christians, and we may all profess faith in Jesus Christ, we must realize that not everyone among us is truly saved from their sins and heaven bound. So, we must keep preaching the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ in truth. We must keep teaching that we must die with Christ to sin if we want to live with him for eternity.
All for Jesus
I watched a short video yesterday where the preacher was talking about how the Christian perspective should not be that we see how much sin we can get away with and still have heaven as our eternal destiny. He said that those who think like that are Pharisees at heart, not Christians at heart.
And the Scriptures teach that, too, although perhaps not in those exact words. And that is what Paul taught here in Ephesians, also, that a true believer in Jesus should be able to say that he/she PREVIOUSLY walked according to the course of this sinful world, not that he/she is PRESENTLY living that way.
For we aren’t saved merely from the punishment of sin and merely so that we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. Jesus died on that cross for us to FREE us from our SLAVERY to sin so that we would now walk with him in holiness and righteousness, to the glory of God (Rom 6:1-23).
Jesus, thus, calls us to live holy lives, surrendered to him. He calls us to obedience to him and to leave our sinful practices (lifestyles, conduct) behind us to follow him wherever he leads us in doing whatever it is he commands us to do.
He calls us to a life of suffering for righteousness’ sake, and to a life of surrender to him, and to a life of purpose and direction. So, it isn’t just that we no longer walk in sin and that we now walk in holiness and righteousness, but that we no longer live to ourselves, but we now live to Christ and to his will for our lives, to do what He called us to do.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph 2:10).
He has a plan for each of our lives. He has something he wants each of us to do for the praise and glory of God. So, we need to seek his face and inquire of him as to why he put us on this earth and as to what he had prepared for us even from before the creation of the world, and then we must follow him in obedience and go where he sends us, for that is the BEST place to be.
It All Depends
Jerry Nelson / Don Marsh
Would I leave the place
Where I have lived and settled down?
It all depends.
Break with my attachments,
Sentimental though they be?
It all depends.
Would I find myself uprooting
All the stakes I’ve driven down,
Leaving friends and loved ones far behind,
Captive to the call of some far off distant land?
I can only answer, that depends.
It all depends on where He needs me,
For where he leads me my feet must go.
It may be down an unfamiliar pathway
Or cross the mountains so bleak with snow.
His faithful hand will always guide me.
He’ll walk beside me, let come what may.
Why should I dread the night?
My faith has found its sight.
I’ll do his will through the rest of my life.