And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
I. THE ORIGINAL CONDITION OF THE EPHESIANS. They were deaden trespasses and sins. The two words, "trespasses and sins," have almost the same meaning. They imply the breaking, not keeping, or offending against the moral law of God. The negative symptoms of spiritual death are —
1. The want of spiritual perception. As a dead body has not the five bodily senses, so a dead soul has not the spiritual senses. It neither sees nor hears, nor tastes, nor perceives the perfume, nor feels the reality of the spiritual world. The glory of God shineth forth in the gospel of Christ, but dead souls are blind and cannot see it (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). God speaketh by His providence and by His inspired word in loudest tones of reproof, admonition, invitation, and love, warning, and terror; but the dead soul is deaf, like the adder that heareth not the voice of the charmer, charm he never so sweetly. The dead soul cannot taste and see that God is gracious.
2. No spiritual understanding. "There is none that understandeth." "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned" (Romans 3:2).
3. Want of spiritual desires. "Depart from us, we desire not knowledge of Thy ways." "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God."
4. The dead soul has no spiritual strength. The natural man is, in spiritual exertion, absolutely helpless and powerless.
5. The dead soul has no capacity of spiritual enjoyment. Dead in trespasses and sins, it can have no true or permanent happiness.Having thus enumerated five qualities in which the spiritually dead soul is deficient, we may now mention those which such a soul has.
1. It has entire corruption and depravity.
2. From entire depravity proceeds the second positive quality in the dead soul — it is constantly committing actual sin.
3. A third property of a spiritually dead soul is, that it is under the wrath and curse of God (Galatians 3:8).
4. The fourth and last property which we shall mention is, that the soul in this state is deserving of and prepared for eternal death. "The soul that sinneth shall die" is the unchangeable word of the inflexibly just God. "The wages of sin is death."
II. THE CHANGE WHICH THE EPHESIANS UNDERWENT, SO AS TO BRING THEM INTO THE STATE IN WHICH THEY WERE WHEN THE APOSTLE TRANSMITTED TO THEIR CHURCH THIS EPISTLE — "You hath He quickened." Under this head we might direct your attention to the five following particulars: The nature, author, qualities, effects, and subjects of this change.
1. As to the nature of this change. It was to the souls of the Ephesians what the resurrection of Lazarus was to his body, the actual communication of life to what was previously dead.
2. Who was the author of this mighty transformation? Not the apostle; he utterly disclaims the power, as well as the honour, of effecting it (1 Corinthians 3:5-6). Not the Ephesians themselves. Can the dead quicken the dead? "You hath He quickened."
3. As to the qualities of this change. If our time permitted, we might describe it as being supernatural in its origin, nature, and effects; immediate, abiding (1 John 2:19), saving, transforming, and a most glorious and happy change, giving glory to God, and conferring happiness on men.
4. The effects of this change of being quickened from spiritual death were two-fold — inestimable privilege and holy fruit.
5. The subjects of this change. "You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."
III. LET US NOW ENDEAVOUR TO APPLY TO OUR OWN USE WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED RESPECTING THE EPHESIANS. Should anyone be saying, "I greatly fear that I am dead, but oh that I knew how I may be quickened!" Be of good courage, my brother, and despair not, for the mercy of God is unsearchable, and may reach even to you. If anyone in this assembly be quickened from his death in sins, to him I would say, You have been quickened in order that God in Christ may be glorified in you and by you. You are a monument of the marvellous grace of God, therefore glorify the grace of God by ascribing your salvation to sovereign grace as its origin, depending on efficacious grace as its means, and living to the praise of redeeming grace as its end.
I. In the first three verses THE STATE AND CHARACTER OF THE EPHESIANS BEFORE THEIR CONVERSION IS DESCRIBED. As to their state, they "were dead in trespasses and sins." This death may be viewed as two-fold, namely, legal and spiritual. The former consisted in the condemning sentence of the Divine law, under which they lay, as its transgressors; the latter consisted in the moral pollution of their natures, in consequence of which they were utterly incapable of any holy obedience to God. As to their character, or external deportment, the Ephesians are described in verses second and third, They "walked in sins." The term "walk" is expressive of a regular habitual course. Their whole life was sin. The sinful life which the Ephesians led was more particularly distinguished by conformity to the world, and compliance with the devil. They walked in sins "according to the course of this world," "according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."
II. We come, secondly, to consider THE GREAT CHANGE WHICH HAD TAKEN PLACE IN THE WRETCHED CONDITION OF THE EPHESIANS THROUGH DIVINE GRACE.
1. This blessed change is explained in verses 1, 4, 5, and 6. In verse 1 we are informed in what the change consisted "You hath He quickened." To quicken is to implant holy principles in the soul, so that it becomes alive to God and righteousness.
2. We have next the author of this gracious change, in verses 4 and 5 — "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved)." To quicken dead souls is a Divine work, as much so as is the resuscitation of a dead body to life. The new birth is as far above the effort of nature as the rearing of a world.
3. We have next the formal or meritorious cause of this change — "He hath quickened us together with Christ" (verse 4). Christ was quickened by the mighty power of God when He rose from the dead; end His resurrection was the Father's testimony to the perfection and acceptance of that glorious work, which is the foundation of all the grace which flows from heaven to poor sinners.
4. "And hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Jesus not only rose from the dead, to which His people are conformed in regeneration, but also ascended into heaven, and "sat down at the right hand of the throne of God"; and this He did as the Head, so that in Him His people sat down in heavenly places; and His exaltation there is the assurance that they shall personally appear in heaven, and share in the glory the Father hath bestowed on Him.
5. We have, finally, the moving cause of the grace shown to the Ephesians, in verse 4 — "But God, who is rich in mercy," etc. The cause of the grace manifested to Jews and Gentiles lay in God alone, not in any measure in them. It was love residing in the bosom of the Eternal Himself which moved Him to quicken these wretched sinners.
III. We come, thirdly and lastly, to THE ULTIMATE OBJECT OF GOD'S GRACE TO SINNERS OF THE JEWS AND GENTILES. It is mentioned in the seventh verse — "that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." This was a noble end, in all respects worthy of our gracious God. These poor idolaters, quickened to a heavenly and endless life, are patterns of Divine grace to every age, and to every sinner of every age, till time has run its course. Let me shortly improve this subject by urging on you the lessons it inculcates. Learn, first, from this subject, the guilt and wretchedness of our spiritual condition by nature. We learn, secondly, from this subject, how great is the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Parallel VersesKJV: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;