Wednesday, March 3

The Way We Were

Sometimes it's good for us to think a little bit about what we were before God's recreative work began in our lives. So here you go, my favorite description of my former self:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3 NASB)

Not a particularly pretty picture, is it? Let's examine the ugliness a bit, starting at the tail end of it. (I know, I know...I'm going backwards, but it's such a nice little summary statement):

We were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

There you go. My problem was not just what I was doing, but my very makeup, my nature. My constitutional problem makes me a "child of wrath"--an idiom meaning I was destined for wrath. God's wrath was where I was headed, not only because of my nasty deeds, but also because of the sort of person I was underneath those deeds.

And this is a universal problem. It's a condition Paul and his believing Romans readers had been in beforehand, and by extension it's a condition all believer have been in. It's also the condition "all the rest"--those who haven't believed--remain in. There is no one who is left out of this picture, even the very young ones; for it is a human nature problem, not only a human action problem. We were all--you, me, old, young, Jew, Gentile, men, women, criminal and not-so-criminal--headed for deep doo-doo.

Now, let's go back to the beginning of verse 1 and look at this description a little closer:

....you were dead in trespasses and sins...

We might not be able to agree on what exactly being "dead in sins" means, but I think we ought to be able to agree on the basis of the "by nature children of wrath" statement that our deadness is our natural condition. I didn"t become dead; deadness was my disposition.

So now we can look at how that deadness works its way out in the life I lived. I was walking in my sins, "according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience." There I was, living my life out in my sins, following the world's path, following the lead of my nasty ruler, being energized by him. This particular description always makes me think of the Pied Piper and the children of Hamlin. I am one of the children, dancing off after the entrancing lilt of the pipe so masterfully played by the prince of the dark side. I don't much care where it is the dance is taking me, I only know I cannot leave the music that captivates me.

That is how I was as a "son [or in my case, daughter] of disobedience"--I danced to the music that moved me, living "in the lusts of [my] flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind." I was a captive of the music, and yet I danced as I desired. I was a prisoner of the piper whose music called to me so irresistibly, for it was the music I longed to hear--the melody that called out to those self-indulgent desires within me. So there I was, dancing along after the sinister music, not caring that the path the piper is taking is leading me to certain destruction, because I was "by nature a child of wrath."

There it is, the whole hopeless picture! And I think I will leave the story there for now. The picture will change and the story moves on, but sometimes its good for us to think about the way we were.
|

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home