You Raise Me Up
From death to life in Christ. (Ephesians 2.1-10)
Pastor Terry Inman
So far our e-mail has revealed the lavish blessings we receive in Christ. We are preferred, restored and repurposed in Christ. Last week Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving and intercession turned into an incredible expose on the unrivaled power of God that is available to all of us who are in Christ.
The expression of that awesome power was the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ. Paul says, “He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” Ephesians 1.20-21 (NIV)
Today we will see he does the same thing for us. He raises us from the realm of the spiritually dead to His realm of the spiritually alive! The first three verses are the bad news. It’s like the tales from the crypt.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
Just in case a few of the Jewish believers thought he was only talking about the formerly pagan gentiles. Paul adds this postscript.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. Ephesians 2.1-3 (NIV)
First Paul describes our past like a view from the hearse. When we existed in a state of sinfulness we were really dead. We were spiritually lifeless. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” Ephesians 2.1 (NIV)
A corpse is totally insensitive to everything physical. It doesn’t even know it’s in the casket. It can’t see. It can’t hear what people are saying about its former life. It doesn’t feel any hunger, pain, love or loneness, its just cold dead.
That’s the way it is with people who have not yet come alive spiritually. Jesus described this spiritual insensitivity this way. “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” Matt. 13.13
Paul says the cause of death is “transgressions (slips, missteps, or lapses) and sins (failings or shortcomings).
The bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6.23 (NIV). If the wages of sin is death, we need to quit before we get paid!
In the bible death is defined as separation. It is to be separated from the body. “The body without the spirit is dead” James 2.26 (NIV) The bible also describes spiritual death as separation from God. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59.2 (NIV)
When we are living in sin and unbelief we are not unhealthy we are dead! We need more than resuscitation we need a resurrection. The only difference between one dead sinner and another is the state of decay.
This may sound a little moribund but the world without Jesus is a spiritual graveyard. Timothy said, the person who lives only for pleasure is really dead even while they live. 1Tim. 5.6 (NIV)
So “living in sin” is a contradiction. We were not “living in sin” we were dead in sin. There are three influences that contribute to spiritual death.
They are the influences of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Influence of the World: “You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world (v.2). The phrase translated “used to live” is more like “used to walk around or walk after”.
We might say in your former “walk of life you” you followed the ways of this world. Paul used two Greek words that are translated world. One is age or era and the other is similar to our word for cosmos or world order.
So before spiritual life occurs we are controlled by this world’s system. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, (age) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Rom. 12.2 (NIV)
Nonbelievers are unconsciously controlled by the attitudes of this world but Jesus said we are in this world but not of this world. John 17.14 (NIV)
Secondly, Satan influences disobedience and death. We formerly “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
Paul says Satan is the ruler of a realm called the “kingdom of the air”. This can be translated to say he is the architect of the atmosphere. Not the space around earth but prevailing attitudes, mindsets and thoughts.
He and his empire of dark spirits are “at work” literally “operating” in those who entertain disobedience. This does not mean Satan inhabits every unbeliever. He is not omnipresent. He cannot be everywhere. Only God can. But Satan is a powerful influence. He influences though a network of fallen spirits the bible calls demons.
Paul describes this enemy as, “rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6.12
Satan wants to influence God’s creation to rebel against Him and His plans for their lives. He wants company in hell. Ephesians 2.2 (NIV)
We are also influenced by the flesh our sinful nature. (v.3) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Does this mean that all people without Jesus are bad? No they can do a lot of good. But they live only in the flesh. That’s why they can be so inconsistent. They can be very generous, and even have some great values but they still live in disobedience to God in other ways.
Therefore they are by mere human nature “objects of wrath”. They are “condemned to death” not necessarily because of their bad deeds but because they have not yet received new spiritual life in Christ.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3.18 (NIV)
That’s the bad news now lets take a look at the good news. There are five things God does to elevate us out of our sinful state of disobedience and death and raise us up into thriving state of spiritual life.
He loves us. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians2.4-5(NIV)
God hates sin but He loves people. This love is not just emotional it is sacrificial. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1John 4.10(NIV)
He enlivens us. God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (v.4-5)
There is no human way out of our death sentence. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is our only hope. We are made alive with Christ. “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3.5 (NIV) His grace and mercy saves our life!
He elevates us. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2.6-7(NIV)
Just as Jesus was raised and exalted we are also promoted and positioned with Christ. We take our seat with Christ in the heavenly realms. We are not talking about outer space. I’m not sure heavenly realms are even in the galaxy. We are talking about an unseen spiritual empire.
Just so we know how powerful this position is let look back at what Paul said last week. He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Ephesians1.20-23
If we are “in Christ” we have already been elevated to this rule and realm. We have a duel citizenship so keep looking down!
He enables us. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (vers. 8-9)
We don’t have to do anything to earn this relationship and rank in God’s kingdom. He does it all. His grace gift is totally in our grasp by faith!
Here’s one of my favorite expressions of faith. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2.20 (NIV)
He engages us. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (v.10) We don’t work to earn our seat with Christ in the heavens. Our ticket’s paid for. Now that we have this position, we work with Christ.
We are His (Gr:poiema)His product, His “work of art” designed in Christ to do good works. This all ends the way it began in the first chapter.
The NKJV version reads, “you were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world” Ephesians1.1-2 (NIV)
Here he says, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. v.10
There’s a way we walked when we were dead! We were influenced by the world the flesh and the devil. We really didn’t have a life.
There’s a way we walk now that we are fully alive! We are loved, we are enlivened, we are elevated, we are enabled, and we are fully engaged. He raised us up from death to real life in Jesus Christ!