By Steven Shaw
I was reading Ephesians recently and once again came across the scripture in verse 2:1 when Paul the Apostle says, “We were once dead in our trespasses and sins.” Has anyone ever wondered how in the world someone can be dead, yet alive in his or her mind and body?
I am a fan of the show, “The Walking Dead”. It has great character development and the progression of the storyline is captivating. But I couldn’t help but think of the words of Paul as well as reflect on other verses in the Bible that refer to people being “dead” without Christ. Paul is speaking not merely of the physical body, but of the spirit. A person’s spirit is dead until it is made alive through Christ. There is no hope of a life without Him. We do not have the life as God intended it to be until Christ is living within the person who surrenders to Him. As I continued to watch the mindless zombies on television I realized that I was one of those zombies before Christ saved me. For me, that spoke volumes about the spiritual reality that is true for all of us.
Now I know that many who do not believe will mock and say things like, “Oh sure, and just like the show, your god is made up” or “I’m not dead, I feel more alive than I’ve ever been.” Many choose to embrace a dead life and just don’t believe (this will be part of my point later). As God’s truth begins to penetrate through the person and they become alive in Christ through salvation, God makes it very clear (in an ironic way) that the life of a Christian truly starts when we die to the flesh, the world, the material stuff and when our spirit is born again. In a much bigger way, when we actually die, like physically gone, that’s when our real life begins and will never end: the greater the death, the greater the life. Nicodemus is a great example of what I am talking about. Take the time to read John 3:1-21, and you will see that Nicodemus was also confused about being “born-again” and inquired of Jesus as to how and what he needed to do to receive genuine life.
Of course, many believers (as well as non-believers) will recognize this truth in a way never known before when Christ returns for His church. We are told that every eye will see and confess that He (Jesus) is Lord. Not that everyone will be saved when they confess too late, but everyone will finally realize that Christ is Lord regardless of what they want to believe. But until that day, we should have a clear understanding of the reality of sin and death, which accompanies it. Clear evidence of this is seen on the news and in the media every single day; death breed’s death and life bring life. Because of who Christ is, He is the only one that brings true and everlasting, living life. No one else has the power and authority to do this, only Christ. “In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my life, my strength, my song”.
Zombie Life: The Living Dead. Ephesians 2:2-3
Think about zombies for a second. What do they do? They wander aimlessly and are basically controlled by their fleshly desires alone. They are controlled by their dead bodies and are slaves to their dead state of mind and being. Now I know there are no such things as real zombies, but from my own personal experience in my life before Christ, I was a zombie! I was controlled by my flesh, by my worldly desires and was a slave to my own lusts and passions. I couldn’t help but follow all my desires. Not free to do whatever I want, but a slave controlled by what I want.
Paul explains what we are before we receive salvation in Ephesians 2:2-3, “You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Paul goes on to say, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5). The truth is we all begin our lives here on earth as zombies. We are the walking dead who are controlled by the things of the world and who are in no way able to help ourselves get out of the state we are in. We are cursed to walk aimlessly forever. But God in His mercy has called to us in our dead state and extended His grace for us to be made alive in Christ, because of His sacrifice on the cross. Christ took that death upon Himself, and when He rose from the dead, He conquered death and in turn raised us up with Him. Christ conquered our zombie state and gave us the cure of life.
Take a moment and let the magnitude and truth of this scripture speak to you, “…and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7). Those who believe and are saved will see Christ in all of His glory. Notice, that our position as believers right now is seated with Christ in heavenly places! The fullness of what that means will be known when our physical bodies wear out and we go to be with Christ. But until then, know your spiritual position, because of the work of Christ. Be what Christ has already declared you to be.
We cannot by our own power or strength to change our zombie state and to place ourselves in heavenly places. Just like a “real” zombie, we are unable to do anything to save ourselves. Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
How important it is for us to know and understand that this is God’s power and might at work and not ours? It is of God’s choosing and only through the work of Christ and only through the power of the Holy Spirit can one who is dead be made alive. Not only that but it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can continue to believe and persevere in this life as we remain surrounded by other zombies, who have yet to be made alive. As you go through your day, remember to thank God for the true gift of LIFE!
Paul finishes with this, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). This is a call to action. We are not supposed to sit around quietly in our full assurance of faith until Christ returns for us. No, we have a work to do. Now, it should be obvious from previous verses that you know we cannot earn salvation or God’s favor through our works, deeds or actions. However, we are responding to the call that has been given to us by God who has planned out all of our good works in this life to do for His people in order to glorify Him to the fullest in this life. Christ is at the right hand of the Father in heaven while we work to make His name known here on earth until He returns and takes us up for the life we were meant to live. Amen!
You might be thinking, “How can I make a difference in this world?” or maybe “How can I make Christ known?” The first place to start is to recognize that your daily life is your ministry; it doesn’t matter what type of work you do, or where God has placed you, there are people everywhere. People God has put around you for a reason. And people are a major part of the Kingdom of God. Ask God how He wants to use you in your daily life and then follow His leading. You will see. People will be open to you praying for them, you sharing your faith and they will notice something in you that they don’t have; it’s called LIFE! And this is why the gospel is called, “The GOOD NEWS”.
Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Contributing editor credit: Lisa M Johnston, Th.M. and Pastor/sozofreedom.com