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Lesson 5: The Church: God's Workmanship *

Introduction: Last week, Paul blessed us with his account of all of the riches and power given to us by our Father in Heaven through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This week, Paul reminds us what we were and what we had to deal with before God intervened in our life to give us hope. Do you sometimes feel like you have no hope? Is life getting you down? God has done great things for you. Let's dive into our study!

  1. Dead

    1. Read Ephesians 2:1-2. What was our condition when God "found" us? (We were dead.)

      1. Why were we dead? (Our transgressions (lapses) and our sins killed us.)

    2. Ephesians 2:2 tells us that we "used to live" in our transgressions and sins. What does it mean to "live" in sin? Why not just say we sinned in the past? What added meaning comes from the statement that we lived in sin? (Sin is an attitude, a pattern of living. Sin is not so much a specific time that we failed, as it is a pattern and practice of our life.)

      1. Paul connects our pattern of sin with "the ways of this world." When I was a young man in Christian schools, it seemed the goal was to have me look "different" from the world in ways that seemed meaningless. What does it mean to avoid following "the ways of this world?" How should we avoid following the "world's ways?"(Just because the world does something, does not mean it is forbidden to us. Paul links the "ways of the world" with the ways "of the ruler of the kingdom of the air." When these two coincide, as they often do, we need to stand clear. Paul sharpens the picture by describing the dead as "those who are disobedient." If looking and acting like the world involves disobedience to God, then you are dead.)

        1. Read 2 Corinthians 4:4. Can we trust our own judgment on the ways of the world?

  2. Air Satan

    1. Ephesians 2:2 is obviously speaking about Satan. Why is Satan described as the "ruler of the kingdom of the air?" Is this a warning against using wireless microphones at church? (The IVP Background Commentary explains that in Paul's Jewish culture people believed that "evil spirits dominated the lowest realm of the heavens (i.e., the atmospheric realm) far below the realm of God's highest angels and His throne.")

      1. Are Paul's words an example of bad science, or can you relate them to the world today? (We can relate this statement in two ways. First, the idea that Satan dominates in the minds of the people of the world seems absolutely true. This reflects Jesus' statements in Matthew 7:13-14. Second, the influence of Satan on the world is revealed in Satan's domination of the "airwaves" today - television and radio.)

    2. When Ephesians 2:2 refers to "the spirit," is Paul calling Satan a "spirit" like the Holy Spirit? (The Greek word ("pneuma") used here sometimes refers to the Holy Spirit. Demons are often referred to as "spirits." See, e.g. Mark 1:26-27; Matthew 12:45. However, I think the word here is used to describe the attitude of the people. For example, Matthew 5:3 ("poor in spirit") and Mark 8:12 ("sighed deeply in His spirit"(RSV/KJV/ASV)) refers to an attitude or inner thought and not Satan.)

      1. As an aside, when I was studying this I noticed that this same Greek word was used in Mark 1:12-13 to describe "the spirit" which drove Jesus into the wilderness to suffer 40 days of temptation by Satan. I have previously taught the Holy Spirit was driving Jesus into the wilderness, and tried to explain what seemed illogical. However, after looking at the way this word can be translated, I now think it was Satan who is the "spirit" who drove Jesus into the wilderness.")

    3. Are Satan and the evil angels able to be in more than one place at a time like the Holy Spirit? (Compare Revelation 12:10-12 with Matthew 12:43-45. A "spirit" that is present everywhere could not be "hurled down." An omnipresent spirit would not be described as moving to live in a specific person. Satan and his angels have the power to be invisible, but they are not omnipresent (present everywhere at once) as is the Holy Spirit. But see, John 15:26.)

      1. What comfort is there in this fact? (You and I are unlikely to have been directly tempted by Satan. He is limited in much the same way we are limited. I can only be in one place on Sabbath physically teaching this lesson. The Internet allows my influence to be felt world-wide. However, no one is influenced by the lesson unless they choose to be. We voluntarily allow into our lives much of the way in which Satan spreads his influence.)

    4. Read Ephesians 6:12-13. How does this help us to understand Paul's statement in Ephesians 2:2 that we used to follow the ways of the "ruler of the kingdom of the air?" (Our spiritual battle is not against fellow sinners -- people who are like we used to be -- but rather against the influence of evil spread by Satan.)

      1. If this is true, how should we act as God's allies? (It seems that condemning individuals in the world (as opposed to sin)is the wrong battle. The right battle is to be sure the influence of our lives and our words and our works is for the truth.)

        1. What is your influence at home and at work? Have you considered it?

  3. The Solution to Trouble

    1. Read Ephesians 2:3. Whose "wrath" are we talking about? (God's wrath.)

      1. What triggers God's wrath in our life? ("Gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.")

        1. Do you understand what Paul is writing about? Are you able to identify your "sinful nature" with its "desires or thoughts?"

          1. How much of these desires and thoughts can you trace back to allowing "Air Satan" (information over the airwaves) into your life?

    2. Read Ephesians 2:4-5. When did Jesus save you (us)? (When we were dead.)

      1. Would exerting an effort to avoid letting "Air Satan" into our life give us life? (No. God's mercy to us is unmerited. It originates in God's love for us, not in our works. However, when Paul states in Ephesians 2:2 that we "used to live" in ways that followed Satan, he means that changes in our lifestyle are expected.)

    3. Read Ephesians 2:6-7. Why did God show grace towards us through Jesus? (God is kind to us.)

      1. When will we reap the full reward of God's kindness to us? ("In the coming ages." Sometimes we do not feel that life is being kind to us. God gives us life and hope for ages to come when sin will not be part of our everyday experience. It will not then be giving us "bad days.")

    4. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Is any part of our salvation our responsibility? (In this famous text, Paul tells us that grace is a gift from God and not something that we earn. We, however, have a role to play in it. That role is "through faith." Salvation is not from us, but we must accept it by faith.)

    5. Read Ephesians 2:10. What role do "works" play in our life? What role does obedience to God play in our life? (We were dead in our sins. Out of His kindness God the Father, through Jesus, gave us eternal life. We did nothing to earn this. We simply accept it by faith. God gave us this new life with the expectation that we would do good works ("created in Christ Jesus to do good works").)

    6. Friend, God saved you from death and your old life. Will you accept His offer of grace and enter into a new life of service to Him?

  1. Next week: The Church Without Walls.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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