Living Contrasts: From Death to Life in Christ

Paul often describes our lost state to set up a contrast with our new life in Christ.

The structure of this passage reveals its main points. The Greek only contains 2 sentences (verses 1-7 and verses 8-10) but three sections. This week we will look at the first sentence, which outlines two different states of being: lost and saved, dead and living.


Section 1: A sober and fair assessment of the lost (verses 1-3).

Paul simply states the facts of the lost condition without any hostile attitude. The truth is that a lost soul is like one wandering around aimlessly in the darkness and smut of sin, hopeless and in fear of death. Any life outside of Christ is one of darkness, no matter how many good things one can do because we are made in God’s image.

Three powerful influences govern an unsaved life: the world, the devil, and the flesh. The world is the age in which one lives.

The devil or Satan is a definite spirit who is the prince of the world. As ruler of a realm, he is leader of an organized structure whose purpose is to perpetrate evil. Their influence is universal because their numbers are so great. Satan is a powerful influence at work in all those who are disobedient to God.

The flesh is one’s inner inclination to sin. The unsaved person has no ability whatsoever to curb their appetite for sin. There is some sin that they can’t help but constantly indulge, until God steps in.

A Note on God’s Wrath:
Many misunderstand God’s wrath, even among His people. God’s wrath is not impersonal – He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked person (Ezekiel 33:11). It is not vindictive – He punishes all the disobedient justly. It is not unbridled or unrighteous revenge – He repays evil with a plan and rationality, after extending many opportunities to respond to grace (Romans 12:19). It is not an outburst of passion. It is not an attribute that’s outside of God – He is thoroughly wrathful just as He is thoroughly loving and merciful; He is not divided in nature. A finite mind cannot explain it, but God’s wrath is never opposed to love and mercy.

Only a God who is purely wrathful can know and offer an antidote to “the children of wrath.”

Section 2: A jubilant initiative of God (verses 4-7).
The main subject and verb of this passage is “but God … made us alive.” We also see the most important prepositional phrase of Ephesians – “with Christ” – repeated three times in these verses. Our salvation had nothing to do with us.
God’s saving initiative originated in His own great mercy and love. God acts out of His own kind nature. God’s mercy or lovingkindness is His unwavering loyalty in love. He is infinitely committed to what He has promised in Christ.

At the moment we were born again, God gave us the complete ability to walk consistently. We were made alive, raised up, and seated together with Christ, all at the moment of salvation. We have union with Christ for all eternity. Our resurrection and place in Heaven are guaranteed through Christ.

Application Points

Why should Paul review our former lost condition? God knows our condition, our enemy, and our tendency to slip back into particular sin. Reviewing what used to dominate our lives humbles us and reminds us that we cannot walk this journey alone. Because we wrestle with spiritual forces of darkness, we need help from the right spiritual force: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Are you struggling with assurance of your salvation? Review your fellowship with God: Have you been reading the Word? Praying? Worshipping? Are you connected to a discipler and the body of Christ for accountability? Correct these things so that Satan will not have his way and hinder your growth!

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:

  • Jeremiah 17:9 – No one knows their own capability for wickedness.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 – Satan seeks to blind human eyes to the Gospel.
  • Romans 5:12-14, Romans 8:6-8 – Everyone is born with the flesh, making it impossible to please God.
  • Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 4:17-31, Colossians 3:5-9, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – ‘Big’ and ‘little’ sins are listed as equal.
  • Exodus 34:6, Psalm 103:8, Jonah 4:2, Micah 7:8 – God’s kind and gracious character.

A Hymn to Encourage: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by Thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for Thy courts above.