Paul begins Ephesians 2 with a hideous picture of the unbeliever. In essence he says every person apart from Jesus Christ is spiritually dead and they are a follower of Satan (2:1-3). Paul in no way tries to sugar coat his words. He is not trying to make unbelievers feel good about themselves in their sinful condition. Rather he wants them to know how desperate they are, how sick they are, and how damned they are. By saying that every unbeliever is a follower of “the prince of the power of the air” (Satan), Paul also shows there is no neutral ground apart from Jesus.
When playing tag with my kids they love to run to “base” so that they are safe and I cannot tag them. Tag is a kids game with no eternal consequences. Let us not be foolish to think we can apply the rules of tag to our spiritual lives and somehow be okay.
The only spiritual “base” is Jesus Christ and He is not something we can run to. Dead people don’t run. This is why in Ephesians 2:4-5 we are told, “But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love which which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved.” We did not run to Jesus but by God’s grace Jesus came to us so that we would be saved and made alive.
And in Eph 2:10 we see that we were made alive so we would do good works. God saved us from our sin, He gave us new life in His Son Jesus Christ, not so we would act like we are on a cruise, kicking back, drinking mai tai’s, and pigging out at the buffet, but so we would live for His glory. We have been saved by grace from our sins so we would no longer follow Satan but follow Jesus. We have been saved to do good works so that other would see God’s love and grace in us and also be saved. We have been saved to be lights in this world directing all people to the hope of Jesus Christ.
And while this new life in Christ is amazing, we will not truly understand how wonderful it is apart from understanding how dead we were before being saved. So many believers I have talked to want to know nothing or very little of their sinfulness. But that is a terrible mistake and one that Satan hopes we will all fall into. For until we know the hopelessness we were in before Jesus we will not appreciate and know the the amazing life we have been saved into through Jesus Christ. By studying God’s Word and seeing the ugliness of our sin, we will see the beauty and the necessity of the cross of Jesus Christ. And we will be filled with love, gratitude, and grace to live out our new lives for the glory of God in Jesus Christ.