When I was younger (much younger) my friends and I would often use the term “dead meat”, either in that negative variety of endearment or in some instances from very real anger towards one another. It became one of those analogies that may have lost meaning because we’d lost sight of where it came from. Meat, at its simplest understanding is no longer the animal from which it came and is by assumption no longer living. Dead just adds emphasis and perhaps includes a stroke of juvenile wordsmithery. Using this phrase was an attempt to communicate the severity of a perceived wrong. In other words we were saying that someone deserved to die, or at least be pummeled severely, for a wrong committed.
Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
The significance of Paul’s use of dead can similarly be lost by misuse or misunderstanding. But it’s fairly simple, dead really means dead. According to Paul the reality for every human being prior to their “but God” moment (vs.4) is rigor mortis. Interestingly, in using this phrase, only those who have experienced life can understand its’ opposite, death. Spiritually speaking, and this is the primary goal of the Apostle, we should understand that our spirit is totally without life. This situation is beyond hopeless. There is no change for survival. The apostle continues by describing in very vivid terms what it looks like to be in this condition. This deadness is normal for those in the world who whether they believe it or not are disobedient. They follow Satan himself by pursuing every hedonistic endeavor imaginable, the outcome of which is certain expectation of the just wrath of almighty God.
And just in the moment of utter desolate hopelessness Paul gives the gospel. In the “but God” moment it is the love of God that compels Him to dispense the riches of His mercy to us who have trespassed the very image we were created to bear. The immediate benefits of that moment include the phenomenon of being brought from death into life. This miracle is brought about when we are united with Christ in his death and just as importantly in His resurrection. it is as if we died with him and were raised with him in the same victory God granted for his perfect sacrifice. Finally, and deserving of much more attention, we are also given the position of honor that only Jesus deserves.
Notice in our text all the occurrences of the idea of being “with” or “in” Jesus. The gospel of grace as applied to human beings can never and must never be separated from the person as well as the accomplishments of Jesus Christ; life, death & resurrection. Genuine born again believers find their identity in him. In fact the more they learn about him the more they revel in their oneness with who He is. This will be a great comfort to Christians in a world where self-identity is both the pinnacle of humanity as well as always changeable to suit one’s whim. We need to be reminded; first of who we once were - dead corpses, and then who we are now, united with Christ in that but God moment.
Here at Light City Bible Church it is our endeavor to never forget that identity. It is so central to everything we do that we are compelled to labour with all the diligence we have to never let go of this good news and at the same time hold fast to Christ knowing that all of our own faithfulness is only possible because of his accomplishment. Won’t you join us as we pursue this focus on the person of Jesus Christ? We pray that if we’ve not already, we’ll meet you soon.
Reveling in the Life of Christ,