"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, their relationship with God was radically and tragically altered. In an instant, they went from enjoying perfect fellowship with their Creator to being estranged from him. Because of Adam's sin, every person comes into the world with a sinful nature (Romans 5:12).
Sin affects every aspect of who we are as
human beings--our body, mind, and will are all tainted. It's tempting to think that we are born neutral, with the ability to choose between being "good" or "bad"--between following God or not. But the Bible says this isn't the case. Rather, our natural inclination is to sin (James 1:14-15). And we love that sin too much to turn from it by our own power: "no one seeks for God. . . . No one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:11-12); see also (John 6:44). Unable to come to God or even to desire to do so, we are born spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1, 3) and are "by nature children of wrath."
Against this backdrop comes one of the most beautiful and remarkable phrases in all of Scripture: "but God . . ."
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)
While we were still living "in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind," (Ephesians 2:3) and absolutely deserving of eternal punishment--God sought us out and saved us. This was "not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5-6).
Because we were dead in our sins, God had to first bring us to lifebefore we could come to Christ for forgiveness. When Paul says that God "made us alive," he refers to the regeneration--or new birth--that God gives us when we place our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this new life that enables us to come to Christ in faith. Thus, even faith itself --trusting in Jesus to save us from our sins--is a gift from God.
Our salvation is, from start to finish, all of grace (Ephesians 2:5, 8-9). Though we have done nothing to deserve his mercy or love, God lavishes these things on us nonetheless. Let us rejoice, then, in the "immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7)
If you would like to express your trust in Jesus for salvation and take a first step on your journey as a Christian, we encourage you to pray to God, perhaps using this prayer:
Heavenly Father, I believe that because of your love for me, you sent your only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to save me from my sin. I believe that he rose again to life, and that he invites me to live forever with him as part of your family. Because of what Jesus has done, I ask you to forgive me of my sin and enable me to receive eternal life. Help me to live in a way that pleases and honors you. Amen.