The things we are attached to, pay attention to, give our time to…
These things are what form our spirit and shape how we live.
As we begin Chapter 2, Paul makes a comparison of those who are “dead in sin” to those who are “alive in Christ.” Whatever is important to us, makes a difference in our life choices. Are we “dead in sin” or “alive in Christ?”
Read through verses 1-5 of Ephesians 2. If possible, read out loud.
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:1-5, NLT)
Signs of the Times
- A legal document that was common in the first century was called a cheirographon—a handwritten certificate of indictment for crime or debt. Once convicted, a criminal’s cheirographon was nailed above the door of their cell. Once the debt was paid or the time served, the Roman authorities wrote “cancelled” on the indictment. These were “freedom papers,” kept and displayed to declare their freedom. Paul uses this as a metaphor in these verses as he talks about the debt we owe for our sins, and the freedom Christ gives us (Ephesians 2: 1, 5).
- Readers of Paul’s letter would understand his reference to being “dead in your sins.” This phrase of figurative or spiritual death is seen in other ancient documents (see: Luke 15:24). It was sometime phrased as “being under the sentence of death.”
- Ephesians 2:2 (NIV) refers to “the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” Jewish people recognized this to be Satan, as the air was the “lowest of the heavens” and inhabited by spirits. Satan ruled the evil spirits, and many considered that these evil spirits had great influence on people groups, especially non-Jews.
Very often a Biblical writer uses references that are familiar to his readers, but do not make sense or mean the same things to us in our culture. The information included in SIGNS OF THE TIMES is intended to help bridge that gap.
Read these verses again, this time in New Living Translation.
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.[a] He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:1-5 TPT)
We will take a different approach to the text now and identify the information that these verses contain. In designing the chart, I wanted to include What, Why, and How I Live in the two options that Paul presents: Dead or Alive.
|WHAT||WHY||HOW I LIVE|
|I am dead (1-3)||my disobedience & sins (1)|
|I am alive (4-5)|
Stand up and move around, and loosen up all the muscles in your body. Now sit down in a comfortable position, feet on the floor, hands on your lap with palms open to receive God’s word (use a pillow under your hands if needed for comfort).
Now listen to or Read through these verses one more time, this time in The Message.
1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. (Ephesians 2:1-5, MSG)
As you read this through for the third time, what lifted for you? What do you hear from God today?
- Write it out in words. Taking the information in and repeating it in your own words will help you digest and remember what God is speaking to you today.
- Draw a picture to show God’s message to you in these verses.
This is not an exercise in fine art, but a doodle that will help you cement God’s words into your head. Sharing it with another and telling your “why” for the design is another helpful memory tool.
- Do both words and doodles. Don’t make this a hard task. It could be one word that stood out or a full sentence or two. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. And stick figures are fine. If you’d rather include a picture you found or copied, use that. Make sure you could explain why you chose this picture for these verses.
INFORMATION without ACTIVATION does not equal TRANSFORMATION. Whatever we are attached to, whatever we give our time and attention to, that is what influences our beliefs, our thoughts, and the way we live. And why is this possible? God’s mercy, sacrificial love, and grace.
Here’s the TRANSFORMATION challenge for the week. Ask God to help you select one addition to your life or one subtraction this week. A few examples are listed below to get you started. Remember, if you are alive in Christ, His Spirit will give you the strength and persistence to follow through. This is not something you have to add in your own power. It’s a part of the transformation that you invite the Spirit to make in you as you cooperate in obedience.
- ADD a 10-minute commitment to time with God for 10 minutes each day.
“Lectio 365” is a smart phone app that leads you through a quiet prayer time with God for 10 minutes. It offers both morning and evening options each day.
- SUBTRACT a selfish impulse each day. For example: take 10 minutes of your tv or gaming me-time and spend it in conversation with or sharing a unliked task that your spouse is engaged in.
I love it when you share your comments, doodles, and messages from God with me! Unfortunately, only words can be typed into the comment area. Feel free to email me to share at KSEvenhouseWWV@gmail.com. Conversation about God always brings new insights.