Dead Like Me
The apostle Paul vividly depicts our natural condition in the book of Ephesians; chapters 2 and 4 specifically. We learn just how bad things were for us, thereby revealing how grand God's salvation through Christ really is.
Ephesians 2:1-3 reads, "And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins in which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God's] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind." (Amplified Bible)
Dan explains it in plain English:
Paul says that we are dead. Not "resting". Not "pining for the Fjords". Not "getting better". Not "only mostly dead". Not merely sick and weak, though we are that (Rom. 5:6; 8:3). Dead.
Death has no degrees. It is an absolute. If one is dead, that's it. That's how Paul describes our spiritual condition. The Greek word for "dead" means DEAD. All are spiritually dead, bereft of the blessings of God, unable to extricate ourselves from the grip of sin. Sin not only makes us behave badly, it makes us think badly (remember the distorted lens of the heart [mind] in part 1?), and we don't even know it. Without Christ, we are hopeless, helpless, shut off and cut off.
Dan paints a scene, asking us to imagine walking into a morgue. We have an elixir that will bring the dead back to life, but those in the morgue have to get up and drink it. No matter how persuasive we may be, freely offering this life-giving elixir, the dead won't respond. Once again, I'll let Dan speak:
My point: If there is to be a rescue operation for us as children of Adam, aimed at bringing us to anything like God meant us to be, it has to overcome not only our sin and depravity, but the fact that sin makes us utterly uninterested in the solution. In fact, we would be repelled by it.Proverbs 4:23 reads, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life."
Jeremiah 17:9 reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?"
Ephesians 2:1 reads, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins"
Romans 8:7 reads, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be."
John 6:44a reads, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him."
The way we see ourselves and the way God sees us are exact opposites. We see ourselves as basically good, or at least having good intentions, lively and living life. God sees that our hearts are desperately wicked and that we're spiritually dead. That sounds like the worst news ever! There is a solution, which will be covered in the next chapters of "The World-Tilting Gospel".
Reading this section of chapter 3 was a real "light bulb moment" for me. Knowing that because of sin, man's heart is wicked, and that man is spiritually dead, how is it possible for him to want to seek God? Do the dead "choose life"? It is just as impossible for those who are spiritually dead to "choose Christ" as it is for the physically dead to choose to stand up and start breathing again.
Quite frankly, I was on the fence as to whether we choose or are chosen. In my Bible reading, I couldn't ignore the verses that indicate that it is God who chooses us, and those that say that no one seeks God. But I also felt that maybe it was a case of "God knows who's going to choose and who won't." Dan's explanation makes sense. Dead is dead, whether it's physical or spiritual, and it's God who brings life. We don't have the capability in and of ourselves.
Coming Up Next
We'll be moving on to Part Two of "The World-Tilting Gospel", where Dan asks, "What Has God Done for Us? The Eternal Plan Conceived, Predicted, Executed."
God willing, it won't be two weeks before the next post. :)