Thursday, 21 July 2016
…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. Ephesians 2:3
This verse is referring to “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” of the previous verse. Here, Paul makes an all-inclusive statement. He has been speaking to the Ephesians with the word “you.’ Now he includes himself and all people, Jew and Gentile, with the words “we” and “all.”
This reveals a truth that is seen both implicitly and explicitly in Scripture. We are conceived in sin, born in sin, and live in sin. We are under the influence of the devil. Until we come to Christ, this is our “default” position. The world doesn’t like to hear this, and the common term, “He is a good person,” is used to show that humans can be inherently good. But this is not what the Bible teaches.
Rather, we may be good in relation to others, but we are far from “good” in the biblical sense. Instead, “we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh.” Here, Paul is referring to the physical lusts that we as humans pursue. Anything which is earthly and sensual, and which is not deemed as a holy pursuit, is considered in the words, “the lusts of our flesh.”
However, Paul has more which he includes in the overall depravity of man. He next states, “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” The soul of the man is inclusive of both the conduct of the flesh of the body as well as that of the mind. The “mind” speaks of our thoughts which we may act on, or which we may simply dwell on without taking any action. Either way, they are a part of that which is directed by the devil and which is cause for separation from God. As these things are instilled in our very nature, even from conception itself, it shows the complete and utter depravity of man. The devil has total power to work in “the sons of disobedience.”
Because of these things, all people are separated from God. Even those who have come to Christ were, at one time, “by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” The Greek word for “by nature” is phusis. It indicates “the underlying constitution or make-up of someone (something).” It is that which is fused into our very nature.
Two important truths must be considered in these words. The first is explicit; that without Christ, we would still be “children of wrath.” As this was our very nature, there is nothing we could do about changing it. It was tied into who we were, completely and entirely. Thus, as children of wrath, we were destined for destruction and complete separation from the holy God.
The second one is implicit; that we are now no longer considered “just as the others.” Instead, even though we may have these same lusts and desires because we are still in our fallen bodies, we have a new nature according to Christ. Our sin is not imputed to us because of Christ. Instead, we are “children of God” and no longer “children of wrath.” Our new nature is infused into us. We go from a state of anticipated destruction and separation, to a state of anticipated redemption and glorification.
Paul will continue to explain this in the verses ahead. We are now no longer directed by the devil, even though we still live in earthly, corruptible bodies. Instead, we are directed by Christ. Sin is dead in us because we died to sin through the work of Christ. The thought of this verse can be seen reflected in the words of John –
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12, 13
Life application: If you have received Christ, then you have been granted the right to be called a child of God. In Christ, we are granted freedom from the power of the devil. Some wondrous day, we will be taken out of these fallen bodies which continue to struggle with the trials of a fallen world. We will be granted new bodies, a completely new nature, and an eternal existence which will be forever pleasing to our heavenly Father.
Lord God, the Bible teaches that all people, without exception, are fallen and are “children of wrath” by nature. We are conceived in sin, born in sin, and have only the expectation of Your divine wrath. But in Your goodness toward us, You sent Jesus to give us a new nature, a new hope, and the right to be called sons of God through Him. What manner of love is this! Thank You for Jesus. Thank You that we are freed from the power of the devil by Jesus’ wonderful work. Amen.