And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10
Perhaps you know someone – or are someone – who has been brought from unbelief to faith. Such a one was obviously dead in trespasses and sins. Such a one was following the course of the world: living apart from God, neither honoring God nor obeying his commandments. This is the life of one who follows the passions of the devil.
Such people are neither unintelligent or of poor physical appearance. They can be the beautiful people and the smart ones – from a worldly perspective. The challenge of reaching them – from a human perspective – is that they have often learned to make their way in life quite successfully. They drive nice cars. They have good jobs. They are often admired. They are often, however, unaware of their deadness and their identity as children of wrath.
The reason that such people are unaware of their identity as children of wrath has to do with the nature of wrath. We think of wrath is blistering anger with the strong sting of blistering judgment. Wrath, however, is much more insidious. Wrath is when God lets his hands off, allowing us to go wherever we wish, do what we want. He allows us live under the illusion that we are our own god – even though we’re really lousy at it.
We should not wish to live in the apparent freedom of self-determination. Better to have God mess with us, wake us to our deadness, and give us a clear vision of the futility of life apart from him. Better to have the scales lifted from our eyes and a clear picture immerge of our need for God and his grace.
You may not think of yourself as one who is in that spot. You might be a lifelong Christian. You may never have strayed from the straight and narrow. We might not think that we “were dead in trespasses and sins.” Look closer at this passage:
We all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
All of us are converts. Our conversion may have happened when we were only days old, as God poured out his blessings and made us his children – no longer children of wrath – through the waters of baptism. For others is may have been a later awareness of faith in Jesus. Still others may have come to faith later in life. But we’ve all been saved by grace, because of his mercy, and brought from death to life.