by Mike Ratliff
1 Καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν, 2 ἐν αἷς ποτε περιεπατήσατε κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος, τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ νῦν ἐνεργοῦντος ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας· 3 ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, καὶ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί· (Ephesians 2:1-3 NA27)
1 And you being dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience 3 among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, performing the desires and thoughts of the flesh, and we were by nature children of wrath as also the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
During his sermon today, James MacDonald made a comment that we need to be careful how we “label” unbelievers. He used the analogy that just as you wouldn’t call someone a “cripple” or “retarded” you should be careful in how you refer them as well. He came up the term “spiritually disabled.” While that would probably get a nod and a smile from those all about Political Correctness, it is not Biblical. The Word of God did not “beat and around the bush” attempting to not offend “unbelievers.” In fact, our Lord himself used such hard preaching in John 6 to purge his followers of the marginal that in John 6:66 the Word of God says, “Ἐκ τούτου πολλοὶ [ἐκ] τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω καὶ οὐκέτι μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ περιεπάτουν.” Or, “From this time many of his disciples went back and no longer were walking with him.” Why did they walk away as in 1 John 2:19? There is more to being a Christian than just making a profession.
In Ephesians 2:1, the word “dead” translates the adjective νεκροὺς (nekrous) the Accusative, Plural of νεκρός (nekros), “dead.” An unsaved person, an unbeliever, is a spiritual corpse. This temporal life is actually a living death. He or she may be walking and breathing, but they are dead spiritually while they live physically.
As many of you know I grew up a Southern Baptist and attended many evangelistic crusades during that time. One analogy I heard many times with a few variations went something like this:
“Picture a drowning man. He is struggling to stay afloat. He has already gone down twice and is now down for the third time with only his desperately seeking hand still above the surface. His only hope is for someone to throw him a life preserver. This is exactly what God does, but even if the preserver hits the man’s hand, that’s not enough. The man must close his hand around it and capture his salvation.”
Sounds like a dramatic sales pitch and it always seemed to play very well in those evangelists’ emotional appeal, but it is based upon a false presupposition. Lost people are not drowning. They are dead. They are as entombed at the bottom of the sea as the over 1,100 men still entombed in the USS Arizona at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. The only hope of the lost is for God to reach down, pull their corpses to the surface, and breathe life into them. That is what God did for our dead Saviour at his resurrection, who “rose from the dead” (Matthew 17:9; 27:64; Romans 6:4), and for all that are in Christ, that is exactly what He already has done for them by his grace.
Soli Deo Gloria!