Online Bible Commentary
Changing Our Values
Ephesians 2: 1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (NKJV)
It is believed that Paul wrote Ephesians about 60 A.D. while in prison in Rome after his fourth missionary journey. He also wrote Philemon and Colossians about this same time. Paul visited Ephesus during his second and third missionary journeys.
He spent three years in Ephesus during his third journey and was very familiar with the Christian leaders there. The letter was sent to the church at Ephesus but was intended for distribution throughout the early Asian churches. The main theme of this letter is that the church is the body of Christ.
In this passage Paul reminded the church members of their personal spiritual journeys, which is the same journey all Christians make. Prior to becoming Christians, being “made alive” in Christ, we “were dead in trespasses and sins” (v. 1). Then we made the journey from following Satan, with his set of values, to following Christ, with an opposite set of values.
Satan’s values are the ways “of this world” (v. 2). The ways of this world are “the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (v. 3). Most people think that this is the way we were meant to live, that this is just human nature. That is because this is the way our human spirit operates.
This behavior is a result of original sin, the fact that we are all born as sinners. Many believe that we were all born pure and can stay that way by being a good person. The Bible tells us that this is false thinking. Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and because of that we are all born sinners, in need of a Savior.
In verse two Paul writes that when we follow the ways of this world we are following Satan, the ruler of the kingdom of the air. It says that Satan is now at work in those who are disobedient.
Unfortunately, left to our own devices, the way of the world is all we know. This is all we know if we are not introduced to Christianity. People who grow up not knowing better are not bad people. They are just not educated in spiritual matters.
As adults though, we bear responsibility in that we all are born with a conscience which causes us to know good and to seek out the source. It is a curiosity in children that should be welcomed by parents and cultivated in them. Even those who never become Christians know good, and do good things. They may be very good people in the eyes of the world, of which they serve.
However, Paul, in verse one, calls these people “dead”, meaning spiritually dead. They will not go to Heaven, unless they change. They are “by nature” (their human nature) deserving of “wrath”, the wrath of God (v.3).
The journey for those who become Christians continues on. The journey, for those who don’t, never progresses beyond the ways of this world. Their values never change.
When we become Christians, our values change. We see things through God’s eyes and not the eyes of the world. When we are saved, by the grace of God (v.5) and because of His great love for us (v.4), our desire is to please God and not the world. We cannot do both because the values are opposites. Satan’s values are the opposite of those of God.
Where Christians get hung up is that they want to please everyone. They want to be liked by everyone. The result is that they often displease God. As much as we would like to have it both ways, we can’t. If we try, we wind up serving two totally opposite masters. One will always be displeased.
We must change our values to those of God. As Christians, we no longer belong to the world and its values. We belong to God.