There are times in our walk with God that we need to stop, sit back, and in great humility just meditate on the goodness of the Lord and how incredibly awesome His love for us really is. Opening Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul gives us such an opportunity. I would encourage you to contemplate this passage and then take a few moments in prayer to thank the Lord for what He has done for you.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Eph 2:1-5 NASB
It's easy to gloss over the opening of verse 1… “and you were dead…” I looked up the Greek word for dead (νεκρός “nekros”) and in every instance I found in the New Testament it literally means what it says: dead. Paul uses it here to describe our state as humans before we came to faith in Christ: we were dead in our sins.
Many years ago, as I was discussing this passage with a friend, he asked me a question that was so obvious, but also so critical to understanding the foundation of my faith, that I’ve never forgotten it: “what can a dead guy do?” The answer is nothing. He can’t ask for help or for someone to call 9-1-1. He can’t do CPR on himself. He can’t even bury himself. He’s helpless because… he’s dead! When I pondered this fact, I realized that Paul was not using a euphemism here – our souls were quite literally dead and lifeless in our sin, and we were utterly and completely helpless to do anything about it no matter how badly we might have wanted to.
Paul spends the next two verses describing the state of the unrepentant human heart, which is selfish, disobedient, living for the lust of the flesh, and ultimately under the wrath of God. Sin is deadly serious, and we were drowning in it.
Then comes verse 4. “But God…” Paul pushes past his previous statement about our former fatal state and reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin because God is so merciful and loving that He made us alive together with Christ. Just as God the Father raised Christ the Son from the dead after he hung on a cross and was buried in a tomb, so God has also raised us from a very real spiritual death, and He chose to do this all while we were dead in our transgressions.
Paul also touches on this in Romans 5:8 where he writes, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
This, my friends, is grace. It is unmerited and a wholly underserved gift from the Lord because of His great mercy. Just as a dead man can do nothing to help his condition, neither can we do anything to save ourselves – we must fully rely on His rich mercy and great love for us. The salvation we have received is not fair. We don’t deserve it. We’ve never done anything to deserve it and we never will. But God…