V. 3 "Among whom also we all had our conversation, in time past in lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
In our last lesson our time was spent considering the Pre-regenerate state, of the believer as set forth in verse two. Which state we learned was one of total depravity, and that the unsaved man at his moral best is infinitely short of the power to do the first thing pleasing to God. And that the unregenerate unvarying rebellion against God Is perpetuated up to the precise moment of Holy Spirit quickening. (This is illustrated by the life of Paul)
In verse two Paul uses the specific, pronoun "ye" in reference to the Gentile membership of the Ephesian church. He says to this particular class, "ye walked," and then follow the description of their awful state before God prior to being quickened by the Spirit. In verse three Paul uses the inclusive, pronoun "we" thereby placing himself, and all born again Jews with the Gentiles on the common ground of pre-regenerate depravity.
Sin is universal, and the alienation wrought by sin equally
affected all men. Therefore, by nature, Jews and Gentiles, rich and
poor, Learned and unlearned, Princes and peasants, are all unholy
and obnoxious before the thrice holy God.
V. 3 "Öand were by nature (depraved) the children of wrath, even
as others." Jews or Gentiles and all races are by nature the objects
of God's just and holy wrath. Men in their fallen nature are not
merely candidates for the wrath of God, to which they will become
subjects at the white throne Judgment seat of God (Rev. 20: 11 -1
5.) No, "but the wrath of God)' abideth on him" in present
pre-regenerate state. (John 3:36).
Arminians as a whole think of God, as a one attribute God, that is, God is love, and His love is highlighted by them to the point that all of God's- other attributes are non-existent, having no place in their theological mind. This is Inexcusable in the light of the fact of both the Old and the New Testament has more to say about Godís wrath than they do about His love.
Filial love cannot exist apart from discipline, a father's love
requires that he keep his children on the right path, or train his
children in the way they should go. At the point where discipline is
left off, love begins a hurried degeneration into a sentimentality
that sickens God, and is sure to bring heartache to the children,
and those who mock parenthood by omitting discipline. Not so with
God, for His wrath is perfectly consistent with His love.
Vs. 5 "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved;)
The axiom, "The darker the night, the brighter the light," is in a spiritual sense made apparent by Paul's word painting of mans fallen nature, and God's continual rebuke of mans rebellion. Verse four is seen as Gods flood light penetrating the gross darkness of a world blinded by sin, and on a judgment bound Course with Godís infinite and holy wrath.
The two extremes between the unregenerate and the regenerate state of believer is made graphically clear by comparing verses three and four. In verse three he is an object of Divine wrath, in verse four he is an object of God's "great love."
"But GodÖ" (Vs. 4), The singular cause of the difference in the
former and present state of the believer is attributed to God. And
this change is seen to be the fruit of Godís love, and Godís love
for His people was manifested in the giving of His only Son to be
their sacrifice for sin.
By paraphrase, verse five may be translated, In spite of our totally depraved natures, God has made us alive together with, Christ, by His free grace.
Again, Paul highlights the contrast between the two opposing states of the believer; they were "quickened" while "dead in sins." It is impossible to exaggerate when speaking of the depths of human depravity, on the other hand, while the vile nature of the elect of the elect of God has carried them down like all others into the horrible pit, and miry clay of corruption, God's grace has abounded in their recovery. In retrospect, the born again person can say, "...Whereas I was blind, now I see,"' and he can say in triumphant tone, "...Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (John 9:25, Rom. 5:20).
Man must have some true estimate of his sin, were God's great power and love whereby he was redeemed from the curse can be properly appreciated. " To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little" (Lk. 7:47). I fear, many in this life will not realize the greatness of their sin debt until they face Christ at the mercy seat, and there be made acutely aware of the enormity of it. Then they will cry out, "My God, how great Thou art."
" ... Together with Christ." Does not speak so much of the power
that quickened Christ, and brought Him from death to life, as being
the same power that quickened us. But rather, that power has given
us a new nature whereby we can actually fellowship with Christ. This
truth is further magnified by Paul's words found in the very next
verse which reads, "... Made us sit together in heavenly places in
God, by the exclusive exercise of His power broke the bonds of our spiritual death, and recovered us from our miserable state of unconscious woe. Thus, elevating us to a level whereby we cry, "Abba Father," and are comforted by the incomparable fellowship of Christ thru the indwelling of the Spirit.
So as there could be no misunderstanding as to how this state was attained, Paul says in a parenthetical way, ("by grace ye are saved".) The tense of the verb "saved" is that of the perfect tense, and speaks of an action already accomplished. This places the Hardshell Baptists, and others which hope to be saved from there sins at some future judgment in the skies by and by, in an awkward position.
The term "Grace" means beyond dispute that, those saved were undeserving of any favor from God, on the contrary, they were ill-deserving. Paul never missed an opportunity to assert and affirm this great truth, Salvation of the elect of God is from the beginning to the finish, the work of God's free grace, and unmerited favor.
A saved personís right hand might forget its cunning, but it is beyond me to see how he could ever forget that his salvation is wholly grace.