You need to get a life. And so do I. Not so much a better and improved life, but an entirely new life altogether.
When the Bible talks about the life of a Christian in contrast to that of a non-Christian, it never uses adjectives like “reforming,” “improving,” or even “recovering.” Instead, Scripture draws a bigger contrast: new versus old, light versus darkness, friends versus enemies, and, most poignantly of all: life versus death.
A most basic definition of a Christian is one who has been given new life by God through Jesus. We need a new life.
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.
The big idea from this passage in Ephesians is that, without a new life from God, we are dead. And dead people are powerless—to do anything, much less to change their status.
1. Dead People Can’t Revive Themselves
The worst thing about being dead, physically or spiritually, is that there is nothing left to intrinsically rescue. External power must be applied for resuscitation to occur. A spiritually dead person can’t be revived through self-awareness, self-improvement, self-effort, or self-enlightenment anymore than a physically dead person can be helped by these methods. He or she must be brought to life, or regenerated, as a gift from God, who “made us alive together with Christ” (v. 4).
2. Dead People Can’t Free Themselves
Apart from God-given life with Jesus, not only are we dead, but we’re also imprisoned in the realm of sin and held there by the power of Satan. Dead people can offer no resistance to their oppressor, nor can the dead do anything collectively to overthrow the reign of a tyrant.
3. Dead People Can’t Reconcile Broken Relationships
When a family member dies unreconciled to another family member, all hope for restoration is lost forever. How much worse and hopeless is it to live a spiritually dead life unreconciled to God and under his wrath (v. 3)?
We desperately need a new life so that we can escape the spiritual death that is characterized by enslavement to sin and Satan and culminates in the wrath of God.
How do we get a life?
Ephesians 2:8 gives us great news. Life is a gift of God through Jesus that is undeserved. That is precisely what the word “grace” means. Even better, it isn’t something we achieve by effort, but it is something we receive by trust, or faith.
To be a Christian is to receive new life—a gift from God, achieved by Jesus.
Dave Bruskas is the network pastor for all of Mars Hill Church.