Ephesians 2:1-3

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 5, 2006


Sometimes I wonder if people without Jesus really have a clue about just how much trouble they’re in …

God Is Missing

In a certain suburban neighborhood, there were two brothers, 8 and 10 years old, who were exceedingly mischievous. Whenever something went wrong in the neighborhood, it turned out they had a hand in it. Their parents were at their wits’ end trying to control them. Hearing about a pastor nearby who worked with delinquent boys, the mother suggested to the father that they ask the pastor to talk with the boys. The father agreed. The mother went to the pastor and made her request. He agreed, but said he wanted to see the younger boy first and alone. So the mother sent him to the pastor. The pastor sat the boy down on the other side of his huge, impressive desk. For about five minutes they just sat and stared at each other. Finally, the pastor pointed his forefinger at the boy and asked, “Where is God?” The boy looked under the desk, in the corners of the room, all around, but said nothing. Again, louder, the pastor pointed at the boy and asked, “Where is God?” Again the boy looked all around but said nothing. A third time, in a louder, firmer voice, the pastor leaned far across the desk and put his forefinger almost to the boy’s nose, and asked “Where is God?” The boy panicked and ran all the way home. Finding his older brother, he dragged him upstairs to their room and into the closet, where they usually plotted their mischief. He finally said, “We are in * B I G * trouble now!” The older boy asked, “What do you mean, * B I G * trouble ????” His brother replied, “God is missing and they think we did it.”

:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

deadnekros – properly; one that has breathed his last, lifeless; spiritually dead

trespassesparaptoma – to fall beside or near something; a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness; a willful sin

sinshamartia – to miss the mark; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong; to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law


Spiritual death

There is this myth in Haitian voodoo culture that there is some potion that can give life to dead people.  They’re still dead, but their body can move.  Some of the cheap “B-movie” directors have made lots of money making movies about the “zombies”.
Yet in a way, without realizing it, most people on this planet are sort of like “zombies”.  They are spiritually dead and they don’t even know it.  In fact if you look at them, they look very much alive.
But in the sight of God, they are as good as “dead”.
One of the key aspects of spiritual death is separation from God.  The Bible says,
(Psa 66:18 NKJV)  If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.
(Isa 59:1-2 NKJV)  Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. {2} But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
Before you came to trust in Jesus, you were able to communicate with God as easily with a dead body in a cemetery.
Some people claim that they can talk to the dead, but most of us realize that they’re probably just a little crazy.  Especially if they think that the dead people are talking back to them.
And in the same way, a person who hasn’t opened their heart to Jesus isn’t able to talk with God.  The only prayer that God is going to hear from a non-believer is the prayer that says, “God, I’m sorry, I need You”.

:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world


Dealing with the World

In places like this passage, the term “world” doesn’t refer to the physical planet we call Earth.  Instead it is referring to an invisible, worldwide system that is bent on rebellion against God.  It is an invisible system directed by Satan.  It is a system that will be involved in the temptations that come your way.
Before you came to the place where you trusted in Jesus, you had absolutely no way to do anything but go down the path that the world paved for you. It didn’t matter whether you were a Republican or a Democrat.  It didn’t matter whether you were a material girl or a barefoot hippie.  It didn’t matter whether you were a gun-toting, red-necked hillbilly, or a flower-child peace activist.  You were still walking according to the course of this world.
It’s only when you began to follow Jesus that you started taking the path out of the world.
Now as a believer, how do I relate to this “world”?
(1 John 2:15-16 NKJV)  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world.

I need to be careful not to “love” it.  I can’t leave the world.  God doesn’t want you living in a monastery up on a far away mountain.  God wants you “in” the world so that you can tell the world about Jesus.  But while you’re “in” the world, God doesn’t want you to “love” the world.

Brownies with a Difference (by Annette Nay)
Many parents are hard put to explain to their kids why some music, movies, books, and magazines are not acceptable material for them to bring into the home, for their youth to see, or hear. One parent came up with an original idea that was hard to refute. He listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see a particular movie. It had their favorite actors. Everyone else was seeing it. Even church members said it was great. It only had its rating because of the suggestion of sex. They never really showed it. The language was pretty good. They only used the Lord’s name in vain three times in the whole movie. The video effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed. Yes, there was the scene where a building and a bunch of people got blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn’t very bad. Even with all these explanations for the rating, the father wouldn’t give in. He didn’t even give them a satisfying explanation for saying, “No.” He just said, “No.”
It was a little bit later that evening, that this same father asked his teens if they would like some brownies he had prepared. He explained that he had taken the family’s favorite recipe and added something new. They asked what it was. He calmly replied that he had added dog poop. He stated that it was only a little bit. All the ingredients were gourmet quality. He had taken great care to bake it at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb. Even with all the explanations of the perfect attributes of the brownies, the teens would not take one. He father acted surprised. There was only one little element that would have caused them to act so stubbornly. He assured them that they would hardly notice it if at all. They all held firm and would not try the brownies. He then explained that the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies. Satan tries to enter our minds and our homes by deceiving us into believing that just a little bit of evil won’t matter. With the brownies, just a little bit makes all the difference between a great brownie and a totally unacceptable product. He explained that even though the movie people would have us believe the movies which are coming out are acceptable for adults and youths to see, they are not.
Don’t love the world.

:2 according to the prince of the power of the air,


Dealing with the Devil

This is Satan.  He is the architect of much of the evil that is aimed at me.  He directs this system called “the world”.  He brings temptation to my “flesh”.
Before coming to trust in Jesus, we had no chance of victory over Satan.  Satan was the big bully that we could never, ever avoid.
But as terrifying and huge as Satan is, Jesus is even bigger.
And it was Jesus who broke Satan’s control over us:
(Col 2:13-15 NKJV)  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, {14} having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. {15} Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
John describes a future battle that will take place in heaven between Satan and Michael the archangel.  Michael will win and Satan will be cast down from heaven during the Great Tribulation.  But the victory that Michael wins is a victory tied to what the believers will be doing on earth:
(Rev 12:11 NKJV)  "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
These are the things that give us victory over Satan:

1)  The blood of the Lamb.  It’s Jesus’ blood that cleanses us, pays for our forgiveness, and restores us to God.  These are areas that Satan is constantly attacking.

Don’t give in to the condemnation of Satan – the blood of Jesus has freed you.

2) The word of their testimony.  This is the word of God, the Bible.  Jesus fought Satan’s temptations by quoting the Scripture and by living the Scripture.

3)  They didn’t love their lives to the death.  They were willing to die for Jesus.  We care too much for our own comfort.  But no one can stop you if you get to the point where you realize that death is the worst they can do to you, and death only means you go to heaven. 

:2 the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

worksenergeo – to be operative, be at work, put forth power; to effect

disobedienceapeitheia – obstinacy, obstinate opposition to the divine will; It’s the opposite of peitho, to be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident; a word sometimes used to describe believers, those who “trust” or are “persuaded” about Jesus.


Dealing with the “sons of disobedience”

Satan is still at work in people today.  And God has a prescription of how we as believers are to treat people who don’t know Jesus, people who are still being held captive by Satan.
(2 Tim 2:24-26 NKJV)  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, {25} in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, {26} and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
I like the quote in the movie, “The End of the Spear”, where the young Stevie Saint is asking his dad, Nate Saint, if he would use his gun to kill the natives if the natives attacked.  The dad said he wouldn’t use the gun the kill the natives.  He said, “We can’t shoot them Stevie.  They’re not ready yet for heaven.  We are.”
We need to realize the spiritual state of the people we’re surrounded with.  We shouldn’t treat them with hostility.  We certainly shouldn’t be shooting at them.  We need gentleness, patience, and humility.  We need to pray that God would free them from the snare of the enemy.
Satan is our enemy.  People aren’t.

:3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,

fleshsarx – flesh; the sensuous nature of man, “the animal nature”; more specifically, we could call it our “sin nature”.


The Flesh

Like it or not, we all have a “sin nature”.  We all have this thing inside us that longs to do nothing but rebel against God.
Jesus’ disciples had been criticized by the Pharisees because they had not been washing their hands in the special ceremonial way before eating their meals.  Jesus responded by rebuking the Pharisees and teaching that it wasn’t the way you ate or what you ate that brought defilement, it’s what came from the inside:
(Mark 7:18-23 NKJV)  So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, {19} "because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" {20} And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. {21} "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, {22} "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. {23} "All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

This is our “sin nature”.  It’s something we’re all born with.

Before we became a believer in Jesus, there wasn’t much we could do at all to tame this wild beast inside of us.  This beast was us.
Even after we came to trust in Jesus, we will still find that the sin nature is at work.  Paul was describing this when he wrote,
(Rom 7:18 NKJV)  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
So what do we do?  Is there any hope for us?
Here are three things that the Bible says we can do to help in our battle with our own sin nature.  And remember that you will have this battle until the day that you enter heaven.
1.  Death

Somehow, when Jesus died on the cross, there was a sense in which I died alongside of Him.

The result of this death on the cross was to affect the ability of my sin nature to dominate me.  Paul wrote,

(Rom 6:11 NKJV)  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I need to realize that there has already been a victory over my sin nature that took place 2,000 years ago.  The war I face with my own sin nature has already had a major victory, one that gives me the ability to say “no” to sin.

2.  The Spirit

The work of the Holy Spirit in your life is aimed at giving you victory over your sin nature.

The more I allow the Holy Spirit to control me, the less power my sin nature has over me.  Paul wrote,

(Gal 5:16 NKJV)  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

(Gal 6:7-8 NKJV)  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. {8} For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

I need to develop a constant walk, allowing the Spirit to fill me.  The more I feed the Spirit, the more it is victorious. 

The Eskimos had a proverb:  There are two dogs fighting inside of you.  The dog that you feed is the dog that wins. 

What can I do to “feed” the Spirit?  Daily prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, worship, serving, and witnessing.

3.  Discipline

(1 Cor 9:24-27 NKJV)  Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. {25} And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. {26} Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. {27} But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

I will face a battle inside myself until the day I die.  And I need to realize that I need to daily face this battle.  It is not over with a single hour of victory.  Every day I need to take up the battle and fight.

:3  and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

wrathorge – anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself


God’s wrath

Sometimes when we think of God’s “wrath”, we imagine an old man who can’t stand children, and when a child spills a cup of milk, the old man gets incredibly mad at something very innocent.
It’s not that way at all.
We were created in God’s image.  God is holy and pure.  God is good and just.  God is loving and kind.
But we rebelled against this loving, pure, God.
And there will be a day when we will be required to pay the price for our sins.
And when God judges the world, there will be no court of appeals.  There will be no one crying, “Unfair”.  The ACLU will be standing with their jaws dropped, in awe at how incredibly correct, true, and fair God’s judgment will be.
The angels in heaven will watch and say, “Righteous and true are Your judgments O God” (Rev. 16:7).


How can you escape?

When you look at the things we have against us:  Being dead because of sin, the influence of the world, the devil, and our inner sin nature, It kind of looks like we’re trapped.  There’s no escape.
Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist from a few years back, issued a challenge wherever he went. He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free in short order. Always he kept his promise, but one time something went wrong. Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy, metal doors clanged shut behind him. He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, strong and flexible. He set to work immediately, but something seemed to be unusual about this lock. For thirty minutes he worked and got nowhere. An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. Finally, after laboring for two hours, Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock. But when he fell against the door, it swung open! It had never been locked at all! But in his mind it was locked, and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell. (Zig Ziglar)
No one is able to escape God’s judgment.  But God has made a way out of jail.  Jesus has already unlocked the door.  He’s paid the price for your judgment when He died on the cross.  And all you need to do is walk through the door.  Open your heart to Jesus.