8. Dead in sins alive in Christ.
We may liken the way in which the truth of God respecting man's condition is presented in the epistle to the Romans, to tracing a river upwards in order to find its source, while in the epistle to the Ephesians, the course of the river is followed from the fountain-head. In the first case we are given to see our sinfulness by our actions, and then are shown that the spring of our actions is the sin of our nature; in the other we begin with the fact of what our nature is. In one case man is seen in the activities of his sins; in the other he is looked upon as dead in sins. Yes,
DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SINS
is God's record of man. Of all, the unalterable record stands, “All are dead.” (2 Cor. 5:14.) To all it is said, “Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7.)
God declares the fact. He alone is judge of what man is by nature. We can only bow to His word and believe; but nothing is harder, even in common life, than for a man to believe he is what he is. The miser loves his niggard ways, and his pleasure consists in hoarding; the proud man loves his haughtiness, for to him pride is nobility; the creature of gaiety delights in the butterflyism which the thoughtful pity, and the diligent despise. A generous man, however, can discern the miser, and a gracious man see through the proud one. From His infinite standard of holiness the eternal God regards man just as he is, weighs his very being, and declares of man that his spiritual state is a “dead” state.
And faith thus speaks: “We thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead (or have all died): and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again,” (2 Cor. 5:14, 15.) He died, and by His death (which demonstrates man's moral state as well as meets it) those who believe on Him “live.” Of those who live, Christ is the head. And thus it is that Adam is “the figure of Him which was to come,” for as Adam is the head of the fallen human race, so Christ is the head of those who live in the power of the new and resurrection-life which He has communicated to them.
Thus, then, is man's spiritual state of death and the new life which is ours in Christ set forth; “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” (Eph. 2:4, 5.)
The Gentile — the “ye” of the epistle to the Ephesians — “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:2.)
The Jew — the “we” — “all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Eph. 2:3.)
Godless Gentiles and religious Jews were by nature alike, “dead in sins,” yet were alike loved by God in His great love, and such as believed had new life imparted to them by the power of the Holy Ghost when in that condition. (Eph. 2:4, 5, 6.)
The life that comes through Christ is in no sense the polluted stream of Adam-life purified. It is entirely new. Christ is its fountain-head; from His Person its river flows to dead sinners. Christ is “the life,” and “He that hath the Son hath life.” (1 John 5:12.)
Yes, new life is imparted to dead sinners — the new life flowing from the risen One, Christ! So wonderful is this grace, and so slow are our hearts to realize it, that the Holy Spirit puts into the apostle's lips the petition for us: “That ye may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 1)
This then is the divine record of man — DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SINS.
And God's new state for man lies here — QUICKENED WITH CHRIST. (Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13.) RISEN WITH CHRIST. (Col. 3:1)
There cannot exist a single pulsation of the divine life within the soul till the life be there. God took us up in our nature state and gave us new life out of the aboundings of His own heart of love. He exercised the prerogative of His own nature, and by His own power communicated the new life to us when we were dead towards Him.
“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8, 9.)