In this portion of Scripture the apostle magnifies the riches of God's grace in the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ. He describes what we were by nature (Vs. 1-3). He then relates what God has done for us in Christ (Vs. 4,5). He next observes our present and future blessings and glory (Vs. 6-10).
(Vs. 1.) Every man by nature is dead in sin separated from God (v. l 2), without God, without Christ, without the Spirit, completely deprived of any spiritual ability to do anything good (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 13:23; Rom. 8:7; 3:10-12). The fountain cause of this spiritual death was Adam's sin (Rom. 5:12, 17-19). This corrupt state of sin and spiritual deadness is continued through reproduction (Ps. 51:5; 58:3).
(Vs. 2.) Sins and evil are the path (road or direction) in which all unbelievers walk. Walking denotes a continuous practice or tenor of life. Sin was our daily employment and occupation. In this walk of darkness we had two guides.
1. "According to the corrupt course and custom of the world." The customs, manners and way of life of fallen flesh determined our thoughts, values and conversation (Isa. 55:8; 1 Cor. 3:3). We walked as carnal men walk, not as spiritual men walk.
2. "According to the prince of the power of the air." This is Satan, who is called this, not because of any power he had over winds, storms and weather, but because he is the prince of a legion of demons and evil spirits who have residence in the air. He has great power to blind men's minds, fill their hearts with evil and lead them into great sin. Men walk after him, imitate him and do his will (John 8:44). He reigns now in all unbelievers.
(Vs. 3.) The apostle says that in this condition, conduct and state we all (Jew and Gentile, himself included) lived and walked.
1. Our course of life was "in the lusts of our flesh". This has to do mainly with the body its appetites, corrupt desires and sensual delights (Gal. 5:16-21).
2. We fulfilled the desires of the flesh and mind". Desire here is the will and thoughts of our evil minds. Not only is our flesh corrupt, but also our affections, understanding and wills. We sinned because we willed to sin. We walked in darkness because we loved darkness (John 3:19). 3. The reason for all this: "We were children of wrath by nature." This is the root or cause of our sin and miserable slavery. From our conception, birth and cradle we are children of wrath God's wrath!
(Vs. 4, 5.) "But God who is rich in mercy..." Mercy is an attribute of God as well as righteousness and justice. God's mercy is plenteous, free and infinite in Christ. His love and mercy to his chosen people in Christ are from everlasting and arise altogether out of himself, not because of any merit foreseen in them.
"Even when we were dead in sins," he made us alive in union and fellowship with Christ. Consider this in two ways.
1. When our Lord lived on this earth, we lived in him. When he died, we died in him. When Christ arose and ascended, we arose and are now seated with him in the heavenlies. In this sense we are quickened with Christ.
2. In regeneration (the new birth) a sinner (dead spiritually) is made alive in Christ. He is given a new nature, a new heart and becomes a new creature. Christ is that life: for he is the author, the cause and the source of life (Col. 3: 4). It is a gift of his grace.
(Vs. 6, 7.) This is a spiritual resurrection from death (in sin and separation from God) unto spiritual life (a living union with God in Christ). Christ (our Representative, our federal Head, our great High Priest) has already entered into heaven, and we are loved, forgiven, accepted and made one with God in him. Throughout eternity we shall be displayed as the trophies of God's wonderful grace. All of the elect angels and elect men will forever praise the Lord for his mercy and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Rev. 5:9-14).
(Vs. 8, 9.) We are redeemed from death and sin to life and glory by the free grace of God. Election, redemption, calling, repentance, faith, sanctification and eternal glory are all ours by the free grace of our Lord (1 Cor. 1:30). Faith in Christ is the way, means, or instrument by which we receive and enjoy salvation; and this saving faith is not the product of man, but the gift of God. We receive salvation by faith and give all the glory to God. Any works of righteousness done by us are not ours, but are by the grace of God.
(Vs. 10.) However, lest (by commending God's grace as the cause, source and sustaining power in salvation and excluding works as making any contribution in our justification) the apostle should give the impression that works and a holy life are unnecessary, he adds, "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." The spirit that lives in us is the spirit of love, joy, faith, humility and truth. Our calling is a "holy calling". Our Father is a "merciful and holy Father". Our walk is with him (Phil. 1:9-11; 1 Tim. 6:11).