Tuesday, August 26, 2014

DEAD IN SIN (Ephesians Chapter 2)

Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.”

In these verses (Ephesians 2:1-3) Paul reminded the believers in Ephesus of their previous condition—the way they were.  They were spiritually dead before they had been “made…alive together with Christ” in salvation (Ephesians 2:5).  This verse also speaks to the condition of the unbeliever.  He is a person who is spiritually dead to God, and unable to move a spiritual muscle with respect to salvation.  A coroner or medical examiner makes an examination of a corpse.  He ascertains that the person is actually dead and lists on a death certificate the cause.  God has diagnosed the sons of Adam—they are spiritually dead (Cf. Romans 5:12).  He likewise declares to us the cause, which is sin.  The unbeliever is one who is dead to God in sin—that’s bad news of the worse degree.  The bad news is not just that we are all born sinners (Cf. Romans 3:23), but that in sin man is dead to God and helpless to do a thing to change that (Cf. Romans 6:23).  It is important that we understand the gravity of the bad news.  The bad news is not just that man is sick, he is dead.  The bad news cannot be undone with any degree of rehabilitation.  It is the impartation of life that is necessary.  The spiritually dead are akin to Lazarus in the tomb.  Having been entombed for days, his flesh had begun to rot.  No amount of self-exertion or effort on Lazarus’ part could have worked to bring him forth from that tomb.  His condition was emblematic of all the lost.  Christ alone had the power to call Lazarus from that tomb (Cf. John 13:43). 

George Whitefield once spoke to this matter by way of invitation, "Come, ye dead, Christ-less, unconverted sinners, come and see the place where they laid the body of the deceased Lazarus; behold him laid out, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, locked-up and stinking in a dark cave, with a great stone on the top of it.  View him again and again; go nearer to him; be not afraid; smell him.  Ah!  How he stinketh…Was he bound hand and foot with grave clothes?  So art thou bound hand and foot with thy corruptions: and as a stone was laid on the sepulcher, so is there a stone of unbelief upon thy heart.  Perhaps thou hast lain in this state, not only for days, but many years…And, what is still more effecting, thou art as unable to raise thyself out of this loathsome, dead state, to a life of righteousness and true holiness, as ever Lazarus was to raise himself from the cave in which he lay so long.  Thou mayest try the power of thy own boasted free-will, and the force and energy of moral persuasion and rational arguments; but all thy efforts, exerted with never so much vigor, will prove fruitless and abortive, till that same Jesus, who said, "Take away the stone," and "Lazarus, come forth." also quicken you.  Apart from the quickening voice of God there is no hope for any man.  With it the deadest and vilest of sinners can be saved."

Jim Thompson was an elder in our church.  Before he died and departed to be with Jesus, he had the unique distinction of having been declared dead twice.  Many years ago he was travelling from Astoria to Portland along Hwy 26.  Jim was a Navy Recruiter and he was accompanied by a Navy Recruit.  He did not realize it at the time but the Quartz Creek Bridge was covered with ice.  He came to the bridge and his car spun out of control.  He ended up hitting another car and in the process was ejected from his car onto the pavement.  When the police officer arrived at the scene he saw Jim and told Jim's passenger that Jim was dead.  Needless to say--the police officer was wrong.  Jim lived for many years after that.

But Jim was actually pronounced dead a second time.  Years ago Pastor Harold Maycumber went to visit Jim in his home.  Up until that day Jim was endeavoring to take his children to church.  He wanted for them to have religious instruction and live moral lives, but that was the extent of Jim’s spiritual concern.  Jim talked to Harold for quite a while about a lot of things, but then it came time for Harold to leave.  As he was at the door, and about to leave, Harold had a final word for Jim.  He turned to Jim and said, "Jim you need Jesus Christ."  In affect what Harold was saying was "Jim you are dead but Jesus can make you alive."  Jim went home that night and bowed in prayer and trusted in Christ for salvation and was “made…alive together” with Him (Cf. Ephesians 2:7).

J. C. Ryle, "How deeply thankful we ought to be for the glorious gospel of the grace of God.  There is a remedy revealed for man's need, as wide and broad and deep as man's disease.  We need not be afraid to look at sin and study its nature, origin, power, extent, and vileness, if we only look as the same time at the almighty medicine provided for us in the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.”

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