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  • Chad Werkhoven

Ephesians 2:1-5 - Dead, Not Sick

To fully appreciate grace you must first understand original sin.


Ephesians 2:1–5 (NIV)

2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh  and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 15: The Doctrine of Original Sin

We believe

that by the disobedience of Adam

original sin has been spread

through the whole human race.

It is a corruption of all nature—

an inherited depravity which even infects small infants

in their mother’s womb,

and the root which produces in man

every sort of sin.

It is therefore so vile and enormous in God’s sight

that it is enough to condemn the human race,

and it is not abolished

or wholly uprooted

even by baptism,

seeing that sin constantly boils forth

as though from a contaminated spring.


it is not imputed to God’s children

for their condemnation

but is forgiven

by his grace and mercy—

not to put them to sleep

but so that the awareness of this corruption

might often make believers groan

as they long to be set free

from the “body of this death.”

Therefore we reject the error of the Pelagians

who say that this sin is nothing else than a matter of imitation.



Dead. Not sick.

There's a big difference between those two conditions. A sick person still has hope. The right combination of medicine, therapy and internal grit will bring her back to health and strength. But a dead person? Hopeless. Nothing more can be done; no amount of hospitalization can bring him back to life.

This is the condition that you were born in: "dead in your transgressions and sins." There are few universal conditions that the Bible describes that apply to all people, living in all places, at all times in history, but this is one of them. "All of us," writes Paul, lived with the primary goal of "gratifying the cravings of our flesh [sarx] and following its desires and thoughts."

Adam's sin corrupted humanity, as our Confession describes it, in a way that's "so vile and enormous in God’s sight that it is enough to condemn the human race." This might not seem fair to you, that a rebellious decision thousands of years ago that you had no control over contaminated you so thoroughly. That is, until you begin doing divine math adding up the sin you've piled on top of Adam's and realize all you've done is compound things.

Yet the hopeless death that sin has set you in, as problematic as it is, isn't even your biggest problem. The bigger problem is the holy wrath of God, whose perfectly just nature makes it necessary for Him to lash out in righteous anger against even the slightest trespass (v3b). Even if, somehow, you could escape death, you'd still have to face a perfectly good God's unmitigated, yet fully justified, anger.

Dig Deeper

There's so much good stuff to read about in the Bible. It certainly is "a lamp for our feet, and a light on our path (Psalm 119:105)" providing endless wisdom and insight that improves our daily life. And it's good to dwell on and dig deep into this wisdom, and to focus on the practical aspects of what God has revealed to us in His Word.

But all of that good stuff is beside the point.

The point of every chapter and every verse of the Bible is to help you understand the hopeless condition that original sin has put you in, not to depress you or crush your spirit, but rather so that that you fully understand the significance of that tiny little aversive conjunction at the beginning of the fourth verse: But.

This is the wonderful news of the gospel: that you were born dead - not just sick - in your sins and that, by your very nature, you are an object of God's wrath; BUT God, who is rich in mercy and because of His great love, made you alive in Christ even when you were dead in sin (v4-5).

It's not until you truly understand this ugly doctrine called original sin that you can truly understand these most monumental words of scripture: "It is by grace you have been saved."

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who is great in love and rich in mercy;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will no longer follow the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Matthew 22


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