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)
The book of Ephesians is part of what is known as the Prison Epistles. The writings, themselves, affirm that the epistles were written by the Apostle Paul from prison.
There are differing opinions as to during which of Paul’s prison confinements the epistles were written. There are many sources that discuss this subject fully. For our purposes, we will go along with the thought of most scholars that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62.
The book of Ephesians can be divided into two halves. The first half, the first three chapters, is concerned with the positional; doctrine outlining our position in Christ. The second half, the last three chapters, is concerned with the practical; how we work out our position in the practical living of our Christian life. This is similar to the breakdown of the book of Romans.
The epistle was written about AD 61 to the house churches in Ephesus, Asia. The idea was that this authoritative letter would be passed along to other churches in Asia Minor.
In this passage, Paul reminded the believers in Ephesus of their personal spiritual journeys, which is the same journey all Christians make. Paul begins by writing “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (v. 1).
Paul describes becoming a Christian as being “made alive” in Christ. Prior to that we “were dead in trespasses and sins”.
Paul calls these people “dead”, meaning spiritually dead. They will not go to Heaven, unless they change.
All Christians “once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air” (v. 2a). 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. They think that this is the way we were meant to live, that this is just human nature.
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.
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 their parents and cultivated in their children.
Even those who never become Christians know good and do good things, as defined by the world. They may be very good people in the eyes of the world, of whom they serve.
But when we follow the ways of this world, we are following Satan, the ruler of the kingdom of the air. Satan is described as “the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (v. 2b). Satan is now at work in those who are disobedient to the Word of God, the Bible.
Satan’s values are the ways “of this world”. As Christians, we make the journey from following Satan, with his set of values, to following Christ, with an opposite set of values.
Before becoming Christians, we “conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (v. 3a). We were captives to the desires of our flesh and our minds, to our own selfish desires.
We “were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (v. 3b). We were “by nature” (our human nature) deserving of “wrath”, the wrath of God. We were enemies of God.
Paul writes “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (v. 4). God, because of His mercy and great love for us, intervened in our lives.
Paul then describes this intervention by God. He writes “even when we were dead in trespasses, (He) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (v. 5). We were dead in our sins, but, when we became Christians, we were “made alive together with Christ”, through the grace of God.
In conclusion, 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 and because of His great love for us, 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.