The Sinful State of Man
Eph. 2: 1 – 3
Last week, we talked about the exaltation of Christ. He was above all not only in this life but also in the future. Today we will look at the past, the past of all sinners, our own past. I remember a common Filipino saying which goes like this. “He who never looks back where he came from will never reach his destination. There is truth in there. We must look back to see who we are before, in order to appreciate and to know the difference of what we are now in Christ.
I. Dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1)
A. Death basically means “separation” and there are different kinds of death in the Bible:
1. Physical death – The separation of spirit from the body. (Mt. 2:15; Gen. 35:18; Jas. 2:26).
2. Spiritual death – Separation from God because of sin (Eph. 2:1; Jn. 5:24; Col. 2:13). When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they died spiritually not physically. Unsaved people are very much alive. They are spiritually dead but physically alive. All of them, no exemption. This is the kind of death being spoken here.
3. Eternal death or Second death-the final, eternal separation of the unsaved from God and life (Rev. 20:14; 21:8; 2 Thess. 1:9).
B. Cause of Spiritual death
1. Sin is the basic cause of spiritual death. Ezek. 18:20.
2. Romans 6:23 specifically tell us that, …the wages of sin is death. (spiritual death).
3. 1 Jn. 3:4 defines sin as …the transgression of the law.
a. Sin is an act – the braking of a law or commandment is sin.
b. Sin is a state – the fallen state of man without righteousness.
c. Sin is a nature – the nature of fallen man at enmity against God. Spiritually dead man is sinful by nature. We are all sinful by nature.
4. Transgression is the overstepping of the law.
C. Characteristics of spiritually dead persons
1. He is unable to understand and appreciate spiritual things.
2. He has no spiritual life and can do nothing to please God.
3. He is ungodly, carnal and worldly.
II. Walking with the world and with Satan. (Eph. 2:2)
A. The word “walk” here means to live, follow, go, be occupied with.
B. Spiritually dead people are physically alive and live according to the course of this world”, meaning worldly life. Below are the dangers of living a worldly life.
1. Destroys the influence of the truth. (Mt. 13:22).
2. Deludes men into a state of false security. (Mt. 24:38-39).
3. Makes earthly affections supreme. (1 Cor. 7:32-33).
4. Leads to religious apostasy. (2 Tim. 4:10; Jas. 5:5). Seen in the tendency to Imitate worldly customs, etc.
a. In committing popular sins. (Ex. 23:2)
b. In false worship. (Deut. 12:30).
c. In bad governmental policies. (1 Sam. 8:19-20)
d. In heathenish practices. (2 Kings 17:15)
e. In following a bad example. (Mt. 23:2-3)
5. Unbelievers follow the lifestyles of other unbelievers; they experience the world’s peer pressure. “This world” (kosmos) is the satanically organized system that hates and opposes all that is godly (Jn. 15:18,23).
Illustration 1 : Worldliness
The Bible defines worldliness by centering morality where we intuitively know it should be. Worldliness is the lust of the flesh (a passion for sensual satisfaction), the lust of the eyes (an inordinate desire for the finer things of life), and the pride of life (self-satisfaction in who we are, what we have, and what we have done).
Worldliness, then, is a preoccupation with ease and affluence. It elevates creature comfort to the point of idolatry; large salaries and comfortable life-styles become necessities of life. Worldliness is reading magazines about people who live hedonistic lives and spend too much money on themselves and wanting to be like them. But more importantly, worldliness is simply pride and selfishness in disguises. It’s being resentful when someone snubs us or patronizes us or shows off. It means smarting under every slight, challenging every word spoken against us, cringing when another is preferred before us. Worldliness is harboring grudges, nursing grievance, and wallowing in self-pity. These are the ways in which we are most like the world. (Dave Roper, The Strength of a Man)
Illustration 2 : A Greater Enemy
Long ago, William Law warned that the world is now a greater enemy to the Christian than it was in apostolic times:
It is a greater enemy, because it has greater power over Christians by its favors, riches, honors, rewards, and protection than it had by the fire and fury of its persecutors.
It is a more dangerous enemy, by having lost its appearance of enmity. Its outward profession of Christianity makes it no longer considered as an enemy, and therefore the people are easily persuaded to resign themselves up to be governed and directed by it. (Robert H. Lauer)
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
C. Walking “according to the prince of the power of the air”
1. The prince of the power of the air is none other than Satan.
2. The devil is “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” This does not mean that Satan is personally at work in the life of each unbeliever, since Satan as a created being is limited in space. Unlike God, who is omnipresent, Satan cannot be in all places at one time. But because of His demonic associates (Eph. 6:11-12), and his power over the world system (John 12:31). Satan influences the lives of all unbelievers, and also seeks to influence believers. He wants to make people “children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2; 5:6). He himself was disobedient to God, so he wants others to disobey Him too.
3. One of Satan’s chief tools for getting people to disobey God is lies. He is a liar (John 8:44), and it was his he at the beginning of human history, “Ye shall not surely die,” that plunged the human race into sin. The unsaved multitudes in today’s world system disobey God because they believe the lies of Satan. When a person believes and practices a he, he becomes a child of disobedience.
III. Fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Eph. 2:3)
A. I would call this carnality.
B. What is carnality? According to the Greek dictionary, it means to have the nature and characteristics of the flesh (or more simply, it means “fleshly”).
C. What, then , is the flesh? Sometimes it refers to the whole material part of man (1 Corinthians 15:39; Hebrews 5:7), and based on this meaning, carnal sometimes relates to material things like money (Romans 15:27) or to the opposite of our weapons of spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4).
D. But the word flesh also has a metaphorical sense when it refers to our disposition to sin and to oppose or omit God in our lives.
E. The flesh is characterized by works that include lusts and passions (Galatians 5:19-24; I John 2:16); it can enslave (Romans 7:25); and in it is nothing good (Romans 7:18). Based on this meaning of the word flesh, to be carnal means to be characterized by things that belong to the unsaved life (Ephesians 2:3).
The sinful condition of man is hopeless, fearful, and full of trouble. He may be physically alive now but his time is running out. This is the reality that we have when we don’t have Christ in our lives. God has given us a choice. Choose Christ and have everlasting life full of joy, peace, and happiness.