Dead in Sin – Alive in Christ

Jun 08, 2018
Henry Law

Ephesians 2:1. “And you has He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
This verse presents a striking contrast. It exhibits our natural condition, and tells us into what state we are brought by the gracious power of God. (1.) We were dead in trespasses and sins. (2.) We have been brought from death unto life by the quickening Spirit. Heavenly Father, shine now into our hearts, and give us to feel what wondrous mercy has been extended towards us!
(1.) We were dead in trespasses and sins. Let us never forget, that in Adam we lost all spiritual life. Satan seized upon his soul, and inflicted a mortal wound. He was created with the light of heaven in his heart, but sin gained entrance, and utterly extinguished every spark. He became corrupt and depraved in every faculty, perception, and power. It is indisputable that Adam could not impart to his descendants that which he no longer possessed. A holy being cannot spring from an unholy; neither a clean from an unclean. Darkness cannot produce light; the grape cannot bud forth from the brier. Thus no descendant of fallen Adam could bring a living soul into this world. All who are naturally born of him must be born dead as to God.
How humbling is this thought! What can be more pitiable than to see natural men swelling with haughty pride, and vaunting as if endued with great and noble faculties! Alas! what are they? Fleshy sepulchers of expired souls. There is no life within, and the moving clay must soon crumble into dust. Yet such men will oppose God, and dispute against His truth, and openly revile His new-born children. Such, however, were we; but we are quickened. Blessing and glory be unto Him, who in the multitude of His tender mercies, has wrought a change!
But we were not only dead by nature, we were dead also in practice. The life within us, not being the life of God, was the life of the Evil One. Therefore, every movement of the inner man, being utterly apart from God, was only animate towards Satan. Whatever we did, having no reference to God, was sin. All our deeds, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, were evil. Every thought was sin—and, therefore, every word and every work was sin, and that continually. Death to God is life to sin. Every step which we took was in sin towards hell. Every moment which passed over our heads witnessed an aggravation and accumulation of iniquity, and brought us nearer to endless perdition. The dreadful description of the prophet exactly belonged to us. “Ah! sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they are gone away backward. From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores.” Is this our present state? Thanks be unto God! we now live unto Him. “While we were in our blood, He said unto us, live; yes, while we were in our blood, He said unto us, live.”

(2.) This brings us to our second truth—We have been brought from death unto life by the quickening Spirit. When we had no power to look towards God, or cry unto Him—when we had no inclination or desire to seek His face—He drew near unto us, and raised us from the grave of our iniquities. He caused the dry bones to live. Can we doubt who is the first mover in the work of regeneration? It is our God, in the plenitude of His love. Shall we enquire what motive constrained Him? It could be nothing in us, for we were dead in trespasses and sins—all that we did and had was vileness and abomination in His sight. Nothing moved Him but the love which is His essence. He quickened us because He loved us—He loved us because He would love us. Let us adore this love, which brought life and light into our souls; and let us love Him, who first so loved us. If He so loved us, while our whole nature was enmity to Him, will He cease to love us, now that He has made us partakers of the divine nature, and has given us new powers to know, worship, and serve Him? It cannot be. He has loved us with an everlasting love, and never will He cast us off.
We may now plead with Him, that we are His workmanship, the temples of the Holy Spirit; and we may beseech Him for His glory’s sake, to forsake not the work of His own hands—and we may rejoice in the assurance, that He who has begun this good work, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Let the new-born exclaim, Have we received this life from heaven? Oh! then, let us live as redeemed from the death in trespasses and sins, and as quickened unto the life of God. It is true not of the Jews only, but of all God’s children, “This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise.” Remember what Spirit dwells within you—cease altogether from the world and the flesh—walk in the Spirit—be not carnally-minded, which is death, but be spiritually-minded, which is life and peace. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:2. “Wherein in time past you walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.”
Dark and dreadful is the picture which this verse presents. It withdraws the veil, and shows us more distinctly our miserable and lost condition by nature. We have just been told that we were “dead in trespasses and sins.” It is now added, “wherein in time past you walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.” Let us consider these fearful declarations in the following order. While we walked according to the course of this world, (1.) We walked in sins. (2.) We walked according to the Devil, who is called the prince of the power of the air. (3.) Let us ponder the truth, that the Devil is the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. While we advance, may our hearts overflow with gratitude at the thought that the quickening Spirit of God has delivered us from this horrible pit, from this mire and clay, and has set our feet upon a Rock, even our Savior Jesus Christ.
(1.) While we walked according to the course of this world, we walked in sins. There are two kingdoms in direct opposition—the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of Christ. We were all born subjects of the former; God’s own children are translated in His good time by the power of the Spirit into the latter. The former is all darkness, ignorance, and sin. God is utterly unknown in it—all its laws, and rules, and maxims, and desires have reference to the things of time and sense. The thought of eternity and the invisible world seldom enters, and if it presents itself it is instantly expelled as an unwelcome guest. The prevailing notion in it is the indulgence and aggrandizement of self.

(1.) While we walked according to the course of this world, we walked in sins. There are two kingdoms in direct opposition—the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of Christ. We were all born subjects of the former; God’s own children are translated in His good time by the power of the Spirit into the latter. The former is all darkness, ignorance, and sin. God is utterly unknown in it—all its laws, and rules, and maxims, and desires have reference to the things of time and sense. The thought of eternity and the invisible world seldom enters, and if it presents itself it is instantly expelled as an unwelcome guest. The prevailing notion in it is the indulgence and aggrandizement of self.
While we walk in this world, we do nothing but sin. What is sin, but a violation of the righteous law of God? This law requires, that God should be the object of our supreme love, and should occupy every thought; that self should be completely cast out and annihilated; and that God should reign without a rival in every movement of the soul. But oh! how different from this is the course of this world! Here every step is without God; yes, rather, is against God. How little do the men of this world consider their true condition! They are employed from morning until night in the one work of rebellion against God, their Creator and Preserver; from whose bounty they receive their every faculty and enjoyment. Their seeming approaches to God in outward worship are only fearful mockeries; for they utter what they do not believe; they profess what they do not feel; they promise what they never purpose to perform. Thus they treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Hence it appears, that while we live according to the course of this world, we walk only in sin. But believers “are not of the world, even as Jesus is not of the world.” Blessed be God, who through His Son Jesus Christ has delivered us from this present evil world!

(2.) While we walked according to the course of this world, we walked according to the Devil, who is “the prince of the power of the air.” The world has its king. The Devil is called “the ruler of the darkness of this world.” Again—he is “the God of this world, who blinds the minds of those who believe not.” Again—Jesus says, “Now is the judgment of this world—now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Hence we learn distinctly that the men of the world are under his vile yoke; that he rules them with his iron scepter; that his chains enthrall them; that they receive their laws and commands from his mouth. What, then, is their boasted liberty? It is abject slavery. They cannot do what they please—as the horse obeys the bridle of the rider—as the ship is moved by the will of the pilot—so these men move here and there as Satan guides them. “The lusts of their Father they will do.” What state can be more pitiable, what drudgery more vile! In these chains we too worked in former days; in these chains we would be working at this time, if the Lord had not looked in compassion on us. We knew not our misery, we hugged our fetters, we had no wish to escape from our captivity, when Jesus came and set us free. Shall we allow the prince of the power of the air to regain his sway over us? The Lord forbid. In His name, through His blood, let us resist, and we shall tread down this enemy under our feet shortly.
(3.) The verse tells us, that this evil spirit still “works in the children of disobedience.” He is a spirit, and therefore can enter into the secret chambers of the heart, and erect his throne, and give his laws in the recesses of the soul. Here he sits, directing the thoughts, and prompting the inclinations, and fanning the embers of corruption into a flame. Hence in all the desires, and plans, and schemes, and words, and works of the children of the world, Satan is the author and originator. O blessed Jesus! restrain this adversary! Trample him beneath Your feet! Cast him utterly out of us! Drive him into outer darkness!

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