Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:3. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest we were by nature objects of wrath.
We were all sinners before we were saved. We also lived among them, that is, sins and transgressions. We were not born innocent, but had what theologians used to call “original sin.” We were born sinful from the start.
Our lives have all been different in many ways, but every person has this tendency to sin. Paul calls this the “sinful nature” or in some translations” flesh.” In some people this is seen in obvious acts of immorality and criminality. In others the sinful nature operates in more respectable ways. However, it is all sin.
Flesh or sinful nature is not related to our bodily make up. Is a concise expression for the part of our nature which always tends towards sin or rebellion against God,
We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. There is no exception apart from Jesus.
Pleasing the sinful nature is the default setting for humanity. Unless we consciously intervene, we will inevitably sin.
A car with its wheels incorrectly aligned will drift to the left or the right unless the driver constantly steers the vehicle the opposite way. An intervention from the driver, and ultimately a mechanic, is necessary.
We all veer towards sin unless we choose not to. But even our thoughts and desires are tainted by sin so that we cannot always make the right choice. We need to be made over by God.
So until we come to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to adjust our thinking we are doomed to sin, even if we try to do what is right.
Before we were saved we were living in sin and transgressions, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature.
It is not hard to work out what these cravings of the flesh nature might be. In fact psychologists define a hierarchy of needs which is, in fact, a guide to the fleshly nature.
We have a physical needs such as food, water, shelter, sex and so on. The need for food easily changes to gluttony as we feed the body as much as possible when food is available. The drive for sex turns to last when it is unrestrained.
Then there are issues that relate to safety. but our self-directed sinful nature demands that need his meeting ways that are harmful to others.
As we go up the hierarchy of needs we discover that, although these are God-given drives that exist in all of us, they so easily lead us to sinning if we live independently of God. This is particularly true of the higher order needs of self- esteem and self- actualisation. These are driven by self- a code word for flesh.
We were once in that place of being led by the flesh, the sinful nature, that lives independently of God. We once lived in rebellion against God.
Because we are born with this sinful nature, and therefore default to sin, before we were Christians satan had very little to do to secure our destruction. We were left to our own devices, and as we lived in sin, we would have died in sin, and ultimately we would go to hell. It should not be a surprise that it is after we are saved we become subjects of satan’s attacks . These take the form of temptation, persecution, and so on.
Before we are saved, while we are still under the dominion of the flesh, we are “objects of wrath.” This refers to God’s wrath.
We think of wrath as being anger that is out of control, rage on steroids.
Gods wrath is rightly understood as judicial fury against sin. God is not angry with people. In fact He loves people. He loves sinners, but he is furious about sin and the deeds of the flesh.
Sin separates us from God. It is no wonder that He has wrath towards it and towards its practitioners. He has determined that all who rebelled against him and continue to rebel will be punished. This is justice- a forensic form of wrath.
When cases are brought to court that are notoriously evil or depraved, we expect that the perpetrators are rightly punished. Our anger at the awfulness of the crime demands it.
God sees the awfulness of sin and how it alienates us from him and results in us hurting one another. As long as we continue to sin we are objects of wrath, candidates for great punishment .
There can be no more fearful punishment for sin then total removal from God’s presence. This is what Hell is like. It is a place of total separation from God and from everything that makes life enjoyable. Hell is the place where sin reaps its ultimate harvest .
God will give us all a chance to repent, an opportunity to turn to Him and receive His forgiveness. But all who refuse his grace remain under his wrath.
Key points in this verse
- We were all sinners before we were saved by faith in Christ
- The sinful nature always defaults to sin unless there is an intervention
- Gratifying the fleshly nature results in sin, even when all we are doing is trying to meet our needs
- All who are living in sin are objects of God’s wrath