You Were Dead!?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling

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. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

Ephesians 2:1-3

Suppose you woke up in a hospital bed, unsure of exactly where you were and why. Then, your doctor came in and told you somberly, "You're a lucky person, because, a little while ago, you were dead." How would you feel? Confused? Doubtful? Grateful to be alive? Eager for more information? Wondering what in the world had happened to you?

Ephesians 2 begins with a similar message: "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins" (2:1). It's easy to read quickly and miss the shock of this verse. Stop for a moment and consider what it says. You were dead. Think about it. You were dead.

When I hear this piece of stunning bad news, I wonder, "Dead? Really? Dead in what way? I'm still here, after all. How was I dead? How did I get that way? If I was once dead, why am I alive now?"

Ephesians 2:1 speaks of death, not literally, but metaphorically. Though you were alive physically, you were dead in the way that counts the most. You might say you were spiritually dead. And why was this the case? Because you were cut off from God, the source of life, the one who is life. And what cut you off from God? Your "transgressions and sins."

This verse in Ephesians harkens back to Genesis 2-3, where God commands the man and woman not to eat from a certain tree or they will "certainly die" (Gen. 2:17). When they disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit, they do not immediately die physically, but they are cut off from God and the blessed life he had intended for them. They begin to experience death even while physically alive. In time, their bodies will die as well.

To be sure, this is not good news. But it's news we need to hear so we can be ready for the good news that is coming. That good news is implied in the tense of the verb, "You were dead." We'll get to this later.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Tomorrow, we'll explore a little further the connection between sin and death. Today, I would encourage you to think about how you have experienced the link between sin and death in your life. In what ways have you felt dead, even though you have been physically alive?

PRAYER: Gracious God, today I'm reminded that my sin has cut me off from you, from the God who is life. I don't like to think about this. Along with my culture, I want to minimize the implications of sin. Yet, even more I want my thinking and living to be shaped by your truth. So I thank you for the bad news of my death.

But I also thank you for the good news suggested by the tense, "You were dead." This means that I am not dead now. I'm eager to get to the good news, Lord. But, in the meanwhile, help me to take seriously the reality and devastation of my sin. Amen.