As Paul tracks the path of spiritual death, he
doesn't lay all of the blame on the world around us, neither
on the corrosive fellowship of unbelievers nor on the might
of Satan and all his cohorts. He tells us of the enemy
within—our own physical and intellectual nature. We're the
Sometimes when an emotional flare-up has broken a
relationship, we hear, “But that's just the way I am. I
can’t help being this way.”
Of course that's the way they are. Who would dispute it?
But it's tragic to remain that way when the spirit of God is
available and willing to enter our lives.
Not only do we find some kind of relief from our
rationalizations about ourselves, but we also look around us
to rationalize the whole world’s behavior. We may even be
better than the people around us. After all, who wouldn't
like to compare his own virtues with another’s vices. As
they say, “In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is
king.” In Ephesus, as in much of the world today, believers
were a minority. It seems always so. The world around us is
no excuse for the world within us. In our day of
sociological stereotypes, it's easy ta say, “Change the
environment, and you'll change the people.” Nature should
teach us. A lily blooming in a muddy pool is as white as one
in the florist’s window.
A fish living in a world of salt water still needs to be
salted before becoming tasty. Lionel Arrington once wrote a
song that reminded us that all the water in the world wasn’t
enough to sink us unless the water got inside the boat.
One of the words Paul uses carries more significance than
we usually give it: “Among whom also we all had our
conversation in times past …” (Eph. 2:3). Rightly
understood, the word conversation means “citizenship.”
(“Life in association with others, in the everyday
intercourse of society.” Interpreter’s Bible, 1953, Vol. 10;
p. 641.) Citizenship was a cherished word to Paul. He was a
Roman citizen, even when he was far from Rome or any Roman
province. As such, he demanded and got the special
recognition and privilege of the empire. Now he talks of his
former citizenship in the world of iniquity. This has
changed. He's now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Later
in this chapter he speaks of being “aliens to the
commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of
promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph.
It's impossible to carry two spiritual passports—we must
both choose and be chosen.
Fortunately, God has already
chosen, so now we must choose.