Today’s Reading: Ephesians 2:1-22
Have you seen the popular advertising tactic of “before” and “after” pictures? They are probably most common for diet products, but I’ve also seen them for hair and make-overs. The “before” picture is almost always the least flattering picture possible – no doubt altered at least a little in photoshop to make it look even worse. And the “after” picture is the exact opposite – the most flattering possible. The goal, of course, is to get you to spend your money on the subtle assumption that you can purchase the improvement that you see comparing the two pictures.
Ephesians 2:1-10 uses a similar tactic but to a different end. Paul does paint two pictures for us – one “before” Christ (vss. 1-3) and one “after” (vss. 4-7). He then brings it all together in vss. 8-10 and tells us what the goal of this comparison is.
The “before” picture is not very flattering. In fact, it is hard to imagine it being much worse! The first word Paul uses is “dead” – it doesn’t get much worse than that! Apart from Christ, in our pre-conversion state, we are spiritually dead. That is the result of sin – sin kills. Paul sums up the “before” picture with what may be the most uncomfortable descriptor in the passage: “we were by nature objects of wrath”. Ouch! I don’t like that! Our old self, prior to coming to Christ, was by nature the object of God’s wrath. That is a pretty helpless place to be! Wrath is a strong word, it means God’s holy anger against sin and the judgement that results.
Yet verse 4 begins with one of the great words in Scripture – “but”. Don’t you love how we can be reading along, starting to feel hopeless and helpless and discouraged – overwhelmed by how far we are from God’s standard – and then we come to this little word: BUT! “All I have just said is true, BUT you are not without hope! BUT there is more! BUT God…”
The next three verses describe the change that comes through Christ. This is the “after” picture, contrasting and demonstrating the change that takes place through Christ. Made alive: We were dead, now we are alive. That is our testimony – that is our witness – once we were spiritually dead, but now we are spiritually alive.
Raised with Christ: We are God’s children. We have been raised up, because of God we belong there – that is where our citizenship is – that is where our loyalty and life and worship belong – seated in heaven with Christ.