I once was dead. I had no hope of life because of the crushing weight of my sins committed against Him. I deserved to be eternally separated from his holy presence. My body and soul cried out in transgression against Him. Nevertheless, He made me alive together with Him. He did not just give a semi-heartfelt, “That’s okay.” No, God found a way to bring me back into fellowship with Him. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, who walked the earth as a sinless man, God is able to remain good and holy (punishing sin) and yet merciful (forgiving my transgressions through no merit of my own).
God completely canceled my debt. I tend to beat myself up over my past transgressions, spending far too much time and energy wondering how things would be different if I had been obedient throughout my life. Only recently did I realize that hanging onto the guilt of my sins was really declaring that I did not believe that my “certificate of debt” had been paid. If I truly believe that my sins are nailed to the cross and I bear them no more, then I must stop beating myself up over past shortcomings. Although my life should bear much fruit I must also be careful to guard myself from doing “good deeds” to make up for “bad deeds” in my past.
There are various interpretations of verse 15, but it seems to me that it would refer to Satan and the powers of darkness. I’m sure I’m influenced by growing up with Carmen’s The Champion , but I have always imagined Satan as being completely shocked by Jesus’ resurrection. His plan to destroy Jesus’ power and authority didn’t work. Satan had no idea that he was not the one in control. He had no idea that Jesus willingly laid down His life, knowing that a greater triumphant victory was to result. The men who put Jesus to death had no idea that the gospel would spread in power and geography as a result of the crucifixion. The powers of evil were disarmed by His sacrifice.
The verb paradeigmatizó (παραδειγματίζω) means to put to open shame, make a public example of, or put to disgrace. Paul’s readers’ minds would jump to the celebrations of a Roman victory. A triumph would be decreed in the Senate, and the emperor would lead a procession in an open chariot, followed by bound captives stripped of their armor and dignity. Satan is a defeated, disarmed, destroyed foe, and Jesus has triumphed through His sacrifice! The bad guys never had a chance.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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— 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. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Ephesians 2:1-10