And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
And you hath he quickened, etc. This passage, though its language is somewhat obscure, sets forth most manifestly the greatness and graciousness of gospel reformation. The gospel is a reformative system; it is revolutionary in its spirit and its aim. It uproots the noxious in life, and plants the wholesome. It pulls down the corrupt and builds up the holy. It burns up man's old moral heavens and creates new ones, "wherein dwelleth righteousness." It reforms society by reforming the individual man; it reforms the individual by regenerating his spirit, and making him a new creature in Christ Jesus. It works from the center to the circumference. Observe -
I. THE GREATNESS OF GOSPEL REFORMATION. The greatness of the change it effects in mankind will be seen if we consider two things which are so prominently set forth in this passage.
1. The state of man preceding its work. There are several striking expressions in this passage indicating the original depraved condition of sinners, their condition before the gospel touches them.
(1) They are morally dead. "Dead in [through] trespasses and sins." What is moral death? Not insensibility, for sinners feel; not inactivity, for sinners act. What, then? Destitution of the true principle of moral life. What is that? Supreme love to God. He is the true Life of the soul Humanity has lost it, and it is dead. Corporeal death is a separation of the soul from the body, moral death is the separation of the soul from godly love.
(2) They are practically worldly. "They walked according to the course of this world." What is the "course of this world"? Carnal, selfish, devilish. The spirit of the world is their inspiration, the maxims of the world their law.
(3) They are Satanically ruled. "The prince of the power of the air" works in them. He rules and fashions them to his purpose.
(4) They are wickedly associated. "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past." Their social natures are so perverted that they are linked with the corrupt; all their social alliances are false and impure.
(5) They are carnally debased. "In the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh." The body with its gross impulses dominates over the soul; they are "carnally sold under sin." Their souls are animalized.
(6) They are perilously situated. "Children of wrath." Where is the wrath? It is of their own creation. "They treasure up wrath." From the eternal law of retribution their sins must bring on their ruin.
2. The state of man succeeding its work. The passage teaches that they are brought by the gospel into the most vital connection with him who is the embodiment, the standard, and the medium of all human excellence, "the Lord Jesus Christ."
(1) His life is theirs. "Quickened us together with Christ." That love which is the life of the soul has been imparted. This life is his life. "Together with him." They are quickened by his ideas, with his Spirit, with his aim.
(2) His resurrection is theirs. They are "raised " - raised from the grave of carnality, worldliness, and moral corruption, and their resurrection is with him. "Raised us up together." Christ's resurrection is not merely the instrumental cause of their spiritual resurrection, but its inspiration and its type.
(3) His exaltation is theirs. They are made to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." They are morally exalted - exalted in their power over themselves and over circumstances; exalted in their sympathies, ideas, and aims; exalted in their fellowship. They are in "heavenly places" now, their "citizenship is in heaven." All this exaltation is enjoyed together with Christ.
(4) His character is theirs. "They are created in Christ Jesus unto good works." God has recast their character; he has molded it after the ideal embodied in Jesus Christ. The general meaning of all these expressions is thorough Christianization. Man, after the gospel reformation has been effected, is like Christ in spirit and character. "He is conformed to the image of Christ." How great the change! how thorough! how sublime! How infinitely transcending all the reformations of men! This is the reformation that is wanted; this is the reformation that every true philanthropist should strenuously advocate and zealously promote.
II. THE GRACIOUSNESS OF GOSPEL REFORMATION. What is the great, originating, efficient cause of this glorious moral reformation? The text answers the question. "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." Instrumental causes, such as the Word of God, gospel ministry, Christian example and influence, are many, but eternal grace is the cause which originates all and blesses all. The passage indicates four things concerning this Divine grace.
1. It is great. It is ascribed to the richness of mercy and the greatness of love. "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love," etc. God's love is the spring of all his activities; it is as deep as his own heart; it is as infinite as himself. "It passeth knowledge."
"O Love! the one sun! O Love! the one sea!
What life has begun that breathes not in thee?
Thy rays have no limit, thy waves have no shore;
Thou giv'st without merit to worlds evermore."
2. It is mighty. It quickens, raises, exalts, recreates human souls. It is as mighty as the power that raised Christ from the dead. How mighty is that power that thoroughly Christianizes even one soul! No power but the power of God can do that. "Not by might, nor by power."
3. It is manifestable. "In the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." The conversion of every one is designed to manifest it. The conversion of the sinner, though a good in itself, is not an ultimate end; the event has remote issues, ulterior points, bearings and relations interminable. "Ages to come;" intelligences that will rise thousands of years in the future will study and adore the infinite grace of God in the spiritual reformation of mankind. "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting" (1 Timothy 1:16).
4. It is unmeritorious. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works." The expression, "not of works," does not mean, of course, that men are to do nothing. This would be contrary to the general teaching of Scripture, contrary also to the constitution of the soul and the nature of the work. Man is so constituted that no moral change can be effected in him irrespective of his own efforts. He must work. All that the expression means is that man's works are not the cause. "By grace are ye saved through faith." But if faith is required, and it is an undoubted necessity, where is the freeness of the grace? Elsewhere Paul says that "it is of faith, that it may be of grace." Two remarks will explain this.
(1) Faith is essentially an unmeritorious act. Because it is the simplest act of the mind, and an act for which man has a strong propensity; he has never taken credit for it; he never can. There is no virtue in believing.
(2) This essentially unmeritorious act is itself the gift of God. ]Not a gift in the sense in which existence is a gift, but in the sense in which knowledge is a gift. It is a gift, because God gives the mental capacity for it, reveals the true objects for it, and furnishes the opportunities for studying the evidence essential to produce it. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;