And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3
The apostle Paul is not hopeful in the language he employs to describe the human condition apart from Christ. There is nothing about the human condition apart from Christ that warrants for Paul a fanciful optimism. Nor is he flippant or careless in his language. The degree of mankind’s depravity does not need to be aggrandized or exaggerated. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the picture Paul paints of our reality apart from Christ is a sobering reality of the bleakness of our death-deserving rebellion—and it is into the darkness of this scene that the light of gospel shines in all of its brilliance.
We must endure to taste the bitterness of sin so that we are held captive by Christ’s sweetness.
So we must labor to study and understand the darkness of sin in order to marvel at the magnificence of the gospel’s light. We must endure to taste the bitterness of sin so that we are held captive by Christ’s sweetness. We must resolve to know the degree of our bondage to sin so that we are released to fully rejoice in our liberation to Christ. There are five truths regarding sin in the first three verses of Ephesians 2 that upon lowering us in the dust of repentance lead us to the foot of the cross to meet Jesus.
Sin does not merely cripple—it destroys. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…” Not wounded. Not flailing. Dead. Utterly destroyed and undone. Without help. And without hope.
Sin is not merely haphazard—it is chosen. ”…in which you once walked…” Willingly. Gladly. We chose it.
Sin is not neutral—it is hostile opposition to God. “…following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…” Sin is submission to the kingdom of darkness and death. It is a rejection of the kingdom of light and life.
Sin is not merely external—it is internal. “…among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind…” We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. Our most internal desires are bent towards sin. We cannot help but sin.
Sin is not merely pardonable—it deserves and demands death. “…and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind.” Sin must be punished. It cannot simply be excused or overlooked. It must endure the wrath of God. Infinitely. Eternally.
May God grant us eyes to see the sinfulness of our own sin. May we weep over the harm our sin has done a good and gracious God. And may God be faithful to raise us up from our humiliation into the embrace of His grace towards us in Christ. And may we be changed.