Dead On Arrival
By Shawn Tomlin
Although each and every one of you reading this is physically alive, not all of you are spiritually alive. In fact, we all were born spiritually dead. We were already dead before we understood what it meant to be dead, or alive for that matter. As we look at Ephesians 2:1-5 we will see how helpless we really are when it comes to saving ourselves.
In verse 1 Paul says to the Ephesians, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…” As in, you were born that way, dead in your sins, spiritually stillborn. Because of Adam we all have taken on the guilt of sin. A just God cannot allow sin to go unchecked, and that is where death comes in. The day that Adam and Eve ate that fruit they surely didn’t die, physically anyway, but without communion with our life-sustaining God, they died spiritually. Since then, every single individual that has ever existed or will come to exist was or will be born spiritually dead on arrival. As we grow, the nature we are born with is disgustingly soiled with sin. We despise God, hate His law, scoff at His grace, and in His place we worship our master, sin.
That’s the bad news, but Paul doesn’t stop there. In verse 2 these words written show us a hint of hope, “in which you previously lived…” What’s so hopeful about all that? Our hope is rooted in that word “previously.” That word implies that they are no longer dead in their trespasses and sins. If they aren’t dead, well then they must be alive, but how exactly? We will get there, but first verse 3.
It all was put on the back of Christ and as He hung on that cross, it wasn’t just His own body weight He was struggling against for every single breath He took, it was also the weight of all of our sin.
In verse 3, Paul says “We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.” What Paul is getting at here is that he, and everyone else, in fact all of humanity, is dead in our sin. On our own we are just like the roadkill you drive past in your car, and praise God we have good news, because without the good news there would be no hope.
Verse 4 starts with two words that change everything, “But God…” and continues with “who is rich in mercy, because of the great love that He had for us…” This verse is the crescendo before the climax. Verse 4 shows the “who” and the “why” we aren’t dead anymore. It’s all God. Dead people are just that, dead. We are unable to do anything to save ourselves, “But God” can and does.
Verse 5 continues the crescendo with, “made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” There it was, that beautiful build up of the good news of the gospel that explodes at full volumes with Christ and grace. This passage is unspeakably profound. While we were still dead, Christ came to draw us back to the Father. This wasn’t because Christ just one day decided to do so, but because the Father sent Him. It all was put on the back of Christ and as He hung on that cross, it wasn’t just His own body weight He was struggling against for every single breath He took, it was also the weight of all of our sin. Let us praise God for the grace He pours out on us, who were dead in sin, yet “because of the great love that He had for us” raised us to new life in His Son, Jesus Christ.
“The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.”