When we were dead in our trespasses.
That’s how the book of Ephesians (2:5) describes the state of our being before encountering Jesus.
We were dead.
We weren’t ‘struggling’ with sin or ‘falling into’ sin.
We weren’t morally good for the most part with just some natural, human struggles.
We were dead.
That’s where we were.
Look at Ephesians 2:1.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. . . – Ephesians 2:1
The book of Romans, chapter five, expands on this language.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. – Romans 5:6
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. – Romans 5:10
Enemies of God.
That’s a pretty bleak reality.
This should impact us in a litany of ways. But here’s a few things it gets me thinking about.
Who Is God Calling You To Help Rescue?
A lost person is unlikely to enter our church building on a whim. That may have been a societal, cultural reality in the past, but it is certainly not the case today.
We are called to bring people into Christian community, not primarily a sanctuary. I believe that lives will first be changed around our dinner tables in our homes. From there, some may have the boldness to come sit in our pews. I believe that hospitality is the key to winning the battle against religious apathy and agnosticism.
I have heard, seen, and read Christians talk about the lost in surprisingly unkind ways (myself included). We judge them on how they act, dress, drink, talk, think, etc.
Have we really forgotten the Bible?
The Bible teaches us that God looks at the interior soul of a man, not their choice of dress. The Bible never calls us to judge the non-believer, but rather to hold the believer accountable (both of which we don’t typically follow well). The Bible tells me that I was a dead, ungodly, wicked enemy of God.
Whenever I drive past a jail on my way to Wichita Falls, I think about how I’m no better than any man or woman in there. The only difference is that God’s grace has kept many of my fleshly desires in fleeting thoughts in my mind and not my actions (they are no less wicked).
The same is true for believers and non-believers.
Some of us have received God’s grace, and the rest of us need to hear of it.
Lastly, this pushes us to evangelize differently. We are to build relationships. What we are telling people with the gospel is that they are evil, wicked sinners that are dead spiritually and destined for hell. That’s a weighty message. It’s a message that must be proclaimed, but it is weighty.
You may disagree with my methods of evangelism, but I think our churches would be far better at it if the emphasis was on relationships as opposed to numbers. For me that helps me make it about love and not just the pressure of making sure I tell a certain number of people.
Are You Living Joyfully In Light Of This?
The second impact this has on me is that it should drive me to profound joy.
Life is mega-hard.
Today was honestly a rough one. Lots of thinking about what the future holds. Honestly lots of thoughts of hopelessness in the face of tragedy that I’ve had to take captive and give to the Lord. Some days are like that. In this current season of my life, many days are. I have had to cling to God today, or rather rest in His clinging on to me.
Despite life’s mega-hardness (as a budding academic theologian, that sounds so professional), I have experienced joy.
Because I was dead.
And now I’m not.
Now I’m alive.
Jesus rescued me, redeemed me, changed me, bought me, saved me. And now, He’s sanctifying me. Day by day. Through His Word. Through prayer. Through community. Through mentors. Through friends.
I’m not the man I was this time last year (praise God). I’m not the man I was ten years ago. God is changing me, molding me, growing me. Making me more and more like Himself.
Joy in my life isn’t always a bubbly personality and an ear to ear smile.
Often it is a deep seated remembrance that God is with me and that He has not abandoned me.
Are You Teaching Morality or Jesus?
Lastly, this should impact the way we parent, teach, disciple, preach, lead.
For those that are dead, they need to be brought to life. They don’t need to be simply told that they’re dead. While God is the one that does this, we have a role to play.
We sometimes (if not all the time) expect non-Christians to act like Jesus (all while we’re not there yet). We teach them how they should live. We quote Scripture to them about alcoholism and crude language (both of which are sinful, but the Bible addresses my ability to be religious without a heart for God and others far more often). But that’s like throwing a book about how to swim to a person who is drowning. We should rescue, and then teach.
God forgive us for our judgmental hearts and teachings.
For those that have been made alive in Christ, they don’t need to be taught primarily how to be a better person. Because the message of Scripture, as we’ve clearly seen here, is not about bad people becoming good. It’s about dead people coming to life. Every sermon I preach, every discussion question I write, every blog, every podcast, every video should be about this full life.
Yes, God calls us to live a certain way.
But the core of the matter is that we’ve been made alive.
Not because we were morally good.
God doesn’t care about that.
But because He was rich in mercy and love.
We were dead men walking.
Now we are alive.
In His Name,