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Before And After Life

By Elie Nessim, October 24 1998 Printer Friendly Version

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 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. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved.
These verses from the beginning of Ephesians chapter two remind me of my university days. As a student in University, I had a holiday job, and, believe it or not, it was in a hospital.  Because I had some knowledge of Chemistry, I was transferred to the Laboratory.  And they said, 'Right, we're going to train you in Pathology, and in Biology and in preparing specimens.'  It included post-mortems.  So I had to go to the mortuary and watch the mortuary-keeper as he conducted post-mortems.  And then he said, 'Jack,' (I was known as Jack, because my middle name is Jacob), 'in a couple of days, it's your turn!'  Can you imagine how I felt!  Well, I had to come clean.  I told them, 'Really, this isn't my line; I want to be in Chemistry, not in Biology.'  So they sent me back to transferring patients to the operating ward and back again.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and so did my fiancee!  I had to tell Judith.  She breathed a sigh of relief as well.

But I noticed in the post-mortems as they examined those people, those dead bodies, there was no cry of pain; there was no response at all, because when a person is dead, there is no more feeling; there is no more response.  And what Shaul is saying here is that's exactly what we are like in our natural condition.  We are utterly unresponsive spiritually.

You speak to someone who is unsaved; who is not a Believer.  It goes over their heads; it doesn't make sense to them.  You can talk until you are blue in the face, but until GOD opens their heart, you might as well be a person from Mars talking to them.  It doesn't make any sense at all.  They can't figure out what you are saying. I have had this experience over and over again.  You are talking to a wall.  Your words are wasted on the air.  'Now,' says Shaul, 'that's how you were before He made you alive.'  As spiritually dead as one who is physically dead; and there is no hope of change; no hope of improvement, apart from the supernatural, miraculous power of GOD!

GOD says to His people in Isaiah, Chapter 59, verses 1 and 2: 'Behold! The LORD's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your GOD; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.' We're in that predicament until GOD does something; we are spiritually dead. And yet at the same time, spiritual death is not like physical death.  A spiritually dead person continues in their sins, because He says, 'In which you once walked.'  You are spiritually dead, and yet there is no cessation of activity; there is no let up in the habitual evil that you are committing; in thought, in word, and deed.  But that is what the Bible calls spiritual death.  Separation from all that is godly.  Alienation from GOD.  Total separation from Him who is the source of true life.  We go on in our mad, careless way.

He speaks about trespasses and sins; 'You were..'  Thank GOD, He is talking about us in the past tense.  I hope He is talking to every one of us here in the past tense. What's the difference between trespasses and sins?  Well trespasses are outward misdeeds.  They identify the condition; they have the symptoms of our condition. One of our children began to have a runny nose, and began to get weepy and cranky.  We wondered if it was a cold, or the flu.  It wasn't.  It was what are called, the prodromal symptoms of measles.  'Prodromal' means advance symptoms.  If a child is going to get measles, one of the advanced symptoms is they get a runny nose, their eyes get blood-shot and weepy; they get cranky.  That's one of the signs that measles is around the corner.

And, here we have the symptoms of the disease; the trespasses, the way people act.  The LORD YESHUA said, 'By their fruits, you shall know them.'  When we see someone who says, 'Oh yeah, I'm a Christian, I believe in JESUS.'  And you look at their life, and you can't make any distinction between them and others who are living a profligate life, you have to say, 'Where's the evidence?'  You have to ask, 'Where is the evidence?  All I see is evil fruit; I see no good fruit.'  Trespasses. 

But sins refer to the evil principle governing the actions.  Contrasting conditions are being brought out in these verses.  You could write a title, 'Before and After'.  He says, 'You were dead in trespasses and sins.  You are now alive in Messiah.  You were the children of disobedience; you are now the children of GOD.'   You were indwelt by the devil (or ruled by him); you are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Balaam, when he was called to curse Israel, said, 'I can not curse.  I have received a commandment to bless, and I cannot reverse it.'  And he went on to say, 'There will be a time when the people will look at the nation of Israel, and they will say in wonder, 'What has GOD wrought?  What a marvellous transformation!  From two million grumblers in the desert, to a happy, praising people!  What has made the difference?''

That reminds me of another story about a doctor. He was the terror of the hospital because he was brilliant, and everybody had to jump to it.  He was so fast, and the nurses would say, 'Oh, oh, here he comes' and then they would all get into a panic except for this Christian nurse. And he wanted to know what was the difference?  'Nurse, what's your secret?' She told him that Yeshua was her Secret, and that was the first step to him becoming a Believer. And now what about you? Where do you find yourself? Before or after life?

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