Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Human Condition

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).

Having set out the wonderful things that God has given us in Christ, Paul now contrasts them with the miserable condition of humanity. Man apart from Christ is dead. Because of our human pride, we want to soften up this truth. We’d rather believe that humanity is sick and in need of a physician, and the Bible does use this language. We’re comfortable with this, because it implies to us that we can cooperate with God in our salvation.

We hear this analogy: “Humanity is sick unto death. We are lying in a sickbed, so weak that we cannot even call for help. But the Great Physician comes to our side and puts a cup of medicine to our lips. All we have to do is swallow it.” But this is a false analogy.

The true analogy is more like this: “Humanity is sick unto death. We are lying in a coma. The Great Physician comes and injects life into us while we are completely unconscious. When we awaken, we realize what He has done and thank Him for it.” This second analogy is the true one because the Bible says we are dead. Dead men can’t do anything to come to life again.

Does this mean that we don’t have “free will”? That’s a bit tricky, because it is not easy to say what the “will” is, and what “free” will consists of. However, human beings certainly do have the freedom to choose, but no human being ever chooses to submit himself to God because man is by nature a creature of wrath (v. 3). Men freely choose to continue to reject God because that is what they want to do. Unless God interferes, nobody will ever make the right choice and turn to God in humility.

It is not only individuals who are dead in trespasses and sins. Paul writes that people follow “the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air,” a reference to Satan (Ephesians 2:2). There is an entire social system into which we are born that reinforces our inclination to reject God. Just as God is Three and One, so humanity is many and one. Human sinfulness is manifest in society and in the individual. The iniquity of society does not, however, excuse the sinfulness of the individual. Each person will stand before God by himself and give an account.

Read over Ephesians 2:1–3 and ask yourself this question: Do you think this used to be true of you? Whatever your answer, this is what God says was objectively true about us before we were saved. Faith involves believing not only what God says about salvation but also what He says about us.