and you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world Ephesians 2:1-2
Were Dead – When did you die? That’s not the usual question you get on applications, is it? We usually get a question about your birth. Of course, from a biblical perspective, questions about your birth date are absurd. Why? Because no matter when you were ushered into this world, you arrived dead. The fact that you walk and talk, breathe and eat is merely part of the state of denial. From God’s point of view, you’re six feet under until you recover a relationship with Him.
It’s unfortunate that the usual translation of this Greek text doesn’t quite communicate the shocking truth. You see, the Greek says, “you being dead.” The words are ontas nekrous. Did you notice that the biblical perspective is a continuous state of death? As long as you are caught in your trespasses and sins, you are really experiencing a continuous state of being dead. You didn’t arrive at some point in “life” where sins overtook you and you died. No, you have been dead all the time. Wherever sin reigns, death is the immediate consequence, even if it isn’t immediately noticeable.
Paul reminds his readers that they existed as dead people while sin dominated their behavior. During this time, they walked according to the schematics of this world. Because they were as dead as everyone around them, they didn’t notice the difference. How could they? When everyone eats the same meal, no one notices the residual bad breath. Thinking that what they were experiencing was living, they went on being dead by acting according to the rules of the dead. What a tragic and terrible thing!
Of course, there is an answer to this pathetic condition. You really can have a “birth” day, a day when you actually start living. Since life is in Him and nowhere else, your real birthday is the day that you move from being dead to being alive. Notice that both states are continuous. The biblical point of view is really backwards (at least from the way we normally think). We all start out being dead and some of us are later born. Unfortunately, most remain dead.
How can you tell the difference? To start with, those who are being alive don’t walk according to dead men’s rules. They are radically different because they are alive. It’s pretty easy to spot them. They are the ones who sing in the graveyard. They praise their Redeemer among the tombs. They aren’t weeping in the cemeteries. While the world is really just a vast collection of moving coffins, those who are alive stand out like sore thumbs. Watch for the living. They do not act like the dead. When you find them, join the celebration. Being alive is pretty cool.
Topical Index: Sin