Life. Death. Could there ever be anything in such a contrast with each other? Light. Dark.
I have news for you: you were once dead. Not physically, but spiritually.
In describing the power of God, Paul says just as you could down to the morgue and see a dead body who has no life in it, so you too were once dead in trespasses and sins. But the overwhelming power of God has made you alive.
And you [He made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Technically the words “He made alive” are not in the Greek (which is why they are in brackets or italics in most translations) – but Paul is setting up a contrast. Starting in verse 4 he declares “But God …” showing that there is a new reality going on that God has worked in your life.
D. Martin Lloyd-Jones once said: “If you want to know the greatness of God’s power you have got to realize the depth of sin, you have got to realize the problem which confronted God, you have got to realize the problem that confronts you.”
When we see the depths of sin and death that God drew us out of, you cannot help but stand amazed at the overwhelming power and love of God. It wasn’t that God picked us up and dusted us off. He reached into death itself and raised us into spiritual life. Just as God reached into the physical death of Jesus and raised Him into physical life (Ephesians 1:20) so too He reached into our spiritual death and raised us into spiritual life (Ephesians 2.4-6).
Death: Opposite of Life
If we were dead, what does that mean? The best way to understand death is to contrast it with life.
- John 1.4: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
- John 3.15-16: … that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
- John 3.26: He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
- John 5.26: For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself …
- John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly.
- John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
- John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
- John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Jesus said that He is life itself. That having eternal life means being wrapped up in intimacy and oneness with Him. Just as a branch has no life on its own unless it is connected to the vine (and has the life-giving sap of the vine flowing through it), so too are we dead unless we are IN Christ.
Death is anything outside of Jesus. And this should make sense if we have been living in trespasses and sins; we are obviously outside of Jesus.
Life is not about having religion but having intimacy. The Pharisees were engrossed in religion and traditions, yet Jesus called them “white washed tombs” – they look good and clean from the outside but all they are filled with is death. In John 5.39-40 Jesus tells them that they have been searching the Scriptures thinking by doing so they will have eternal life. Well isn’t searching the Scriptures good? Yes; but they don’t give you life. Going to church, doing devotions, tithing, witnessing, and the like are all great things but they don’t make you alive. Jesus told the Pharisees that the Scriptures are they “which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” It is Jesus who is life!
The word “dead” in the Greek is the concept of a corpse. Spiritually we were corpses. A world of dead people. Yes physically alive but spiritually deader than a doornail.
God has a huge problem on His hands. What is He going to do with all the spiritually lifeless people?
The answer: Life … which is Jesus.
God’s solution for every problem in my life is always Jesus. When I need patience, God doesn’t give me a pill called “patience” – He gives me Jesus who becomes my patience. When I need joy, He gives me Jesus who becomes my joy. When I need peace, He gives me Jesus who becomes the Prince of Peace in my life. The fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 are a picture of Jesus – He is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Jesus is all I need for life and Godliness (see 2 Peter 1.3).
In the life and death of Jesus, my spiritual death has been killed! What was once deadness has, in a miraculous turn of events, become life. We kill and it produces death but when God kills death, it produces life!
Dead or Alive?
So what about you? Can you with confidence declare that yes, you were once dead (a corpse spiritually), but now God has made you alive IN Christ?!?!
Can you declare with Paul in Galatians 2.20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”?
Do you have a heart that drives you to your knees in anguish and travail over others in this world who don’t yet realize their deadness? Who don’t see their desperate need for Jesus?
The world is full of corpses. Dead men walking. Would you allow God to use your life as a vessel through which He can pour forth His LIFE (Jesus)? Would you be willing to be the instrument by which He awakens a dark, dead, and damned world – that they might come to the light and life which is only found in Christ?
Question: In seeing a glimpse of the radical change from death to life, how does it affect your view and adoration of who God is and what He has done in you? Leave a comment below.