I always have a little trouble when I get to Ephesians 2:1-3.
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 lied 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. (ESV)
It reminds me of the trouble I also have when I get to Romans 3:10-18.
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.
Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.
The venom of asps is under their lips.
Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes (ESV).
The problem I have is, I hear these descriptions and think, “I just wasn’t that bad.” I mean, I have done some really bad things. But I am not a bad person. I’m actually a pretty good person over all. I have great intentions. I really do fear the Lord. I don’t want to deceive. I have dallied in the passions of the flesh on occasion, but I don’t think I was really following the prince of the power of the air or was by nature a child of wrath.
What’s amazing about that is that I have even done some exercises where I have tried to honestly lay out my sins and how far they went and I realize I really have done some really, really bad things. But to say I was like these verses describes always makes me come up short.
Perhaps it is some kind of subconscious trick so I won’t see how much I really need to surrender to God. I don’t know. Anyway, I was reading this passage and it hit me. These passages are not saying I am a sinner because I am this bad. They are saying, I am this bad because I sin. No matter how bad my sins are on some kind of scale; no matter how I compare with other sinners (there will always be someone worse in my book); no matter what I have or haven’t done, this is how I look to God when I commit any sin. This is why I need a Savior. Even when I have committed what seems to be the most harmless of minor infractions, I have turned from God to submit to Satan and followed the course of my flesh just like everybody else has done. In that moment, I have not just become a person who made a social faux pas, I have become a rebel.
What amazes me even more are the verses that follow in Ephesians 2:4-7:
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 (ESV).
Despite how I looked to God because of my sin, He still sent Jesus to die for me so my sin could be removed and I could look holy, spotless, blameless and clean to God.
Thank you, God, for your love and mercy.
Keep the faith and keep reading,