Did you know everyone is born dead? If that doesn’t make any sense to you, listen to this lesson to learn the Bible teaches we are born spiritually dead, which means we are without a human spirit. How can we be made “alive in Christ”? See the role of the Holy Spirit in convicting us of unbelief. Find out we have to make the decision whether or not to believe in Christ and His work on the Cross. Understand what it means to walk by means of the Spirit and grow to spiritual maturity.
This lesson includes a brief speech by congressional candidate Wesley Hunt.
Total Inability or Total Depravity?
Ephesians Series #048
October 20, 2019
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we’re thankful that we can come together this morning to be refreshed through singing hymns as we worship You reflecting upon Your power, that You are our fortress, You are our bulwark, You are the rock of ages that protects us. You have given us ultimate victory over Satan and His minions, and You have given us a salvation that is beyond anything that we can ask or think.
“Father, we thank You for Your Word—the living Word and the written Word—that informs us of all that You have done for us and helps us to understand what has transpired in our own lives as we came to understand the good news that Christ died for us and trusted in Him, and that we were made new creatures in Christ, regenerated, born again—that now we have eternal life.
“Father, we pray as we study Your Word today that You would challenge us, for the focal point of this whole passage is not on what You’ve done in the past, but what You’re doing in the present. The purpose for which You have done these things in our lives is to transform us into the image of Christ and to serve You, for we have been created for good works—that is, service for You.
“Help us to understand and apply these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Turn to Ephesians 2:1–3. We did a flyover of Ephesians 2:1–10, so we could understand the flow and the structure here. Today we start getting into some very significant details. One of the things we will look at is total inability or total depravity; some words that might not be familiar to you.
“Total inability” has gradually, over the last hundred years or so taken more prominence, especially among Calvinists. Total inability means that man is totally dead. They interpret the idea of spiritual death as total inability: that man can’t hear the gospel, can’t understand the gospel, can’t have positive volition toward God—can’t do anything until first he is made alive.
Then he can hear and then he can believe; thus regeneration precedes faith. It negates personal volition and responsibility.
The opposing view is total depravity. Almost everyone who is a Christian believes in total depravity. There are some who are on the more extreme Arminian side that may have a somewhat diluted view of total depravity, but they understand it.
This is a one of the most distinguishing features that separates biblical Christianity from other religions—or faiths, let’s say—for all religion is an attempt by man to somehow curry favor with God on His own efforts. We believe that man is unable to do that.
In definitions of total inability, you can read through most of it and say, “I agree with that,” because what they are saying is that man is not able to save himself, man is not able to regenerate himself, and that is true.
Then they go on to make other statements, as introduced last time, meaning that spiritually dead means man is like a corpse: he can’t hear, he can’t think, he can’t do anything until first he is made alive. We will see that this is not the biblical view; a number of passages are against that.
It is foundational to understand these 10 verses; they are all about being made alive in Christ.
Ephesians 2:5, following the introduction of God as the subject in Ephesians 2:4, “But God … even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
When you look at that parenthetical phrase—an explanation in part of what was just said—the word “saved” is synonymous with “being made alive together.” That’s fundamental; it tells us that “being made alive together” is synonymous with regeneration or being born again. That is, in this context, synonymous with being saved. Paul’s statement, “by grace you have been saved,” means “by grace you have been made alive together with Christ.”
Ephesians 2:8, familiar to all of us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith …” That opening line is first introduced in Ephesians 2:5, which tells us that Ephesians 2:8–9 is a quick summary and further explanation of what is transpiring in Ephesians 2:4–5.
Thus, Ephesians 2:8 begins, “FOR by grace you have been saved through faith …” “For” means that this is an explanation of what has just transpired.
Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God ….”
“That” refers to salvation through faith. More than that, it is emphasizing regeneration, “For by grace you have been saved” is explaining in context, “For by grace you have been regenerated” through faith.”
Over the years you’ve been taught various doctrines fairly well, including regeneration. There’s a lot of confusion among fairly Orthodox, fairly Biblical theologians about just what it means to be regenerated. What does it mean to be born again? I’m not gonna go into all of the details, but we have to understand just some basics about what the Scripture says.
In 1 Corinthians 2:14 we’re told that the natural man “… does not understand the things of the Spirit of God, for they are spiritually discerned.”
First of all “natural”—“the natural man, does not understand the things of the Spirit of God”—in the Greek is PSUCHIKOS. It does not mean natural. It is a word formed from PSUCHE, the word for soul, and should be understood as the soulish man. He’s lacking something. What is he lacking?
Spiritual death means that we’re alienated from the life of God. It does not mean that we’re a corpse. We are alienated from God’s life, but we still have many other factors that are important in understanding spiritual truth.
We can’t truly understand it on our own; there must be help. We have to understand how regeneration impacts this.
Slides 6, 7
Jude 19, referencing unbelievers, non-Christians, “These are the ones who cause divisions—they are the false teachers—worldly-minded …” It doesn’t say worldly minded.
The Greek for “world” is KOSMOS, and this has nothing to do with KOSMOS. The Greek word here is the same word found in 1 Corinthians 2:14, PSUCHIKOS. It is saying that they are soulish. They cause divisions and they are soulish, which indicates they’re not saved.
The next phrase, as it’s typically translated, uses the word “spirit,” PNUEMA, but it capitalizes it. That’s an interpretation; in the original Greek manuscripts there are no capitals. They’re either all capitals or all lower case, but you don’t have words distinguished as proper nouns. So you have to make an interpretive decision.
The problem is that last phrase in the Greek literally says PNEUMA ME ECHONTES. PNEUMA is “the spirit,” ME is “not,” and ECHONTES is “having,” so you can translate it literally as “not having spirit.”
PSUCHIKOS is defined here as those who do not have spirit, so we have to understand what spirit means because that is necessary in order to truly understand the Scriptures.
We covered this in Ephesians 2:16—the fact that when we’re saved, having the eyes of our thinking enlightened. That enlightenment is a perfect tense verb indicating past completed actions, what happened at salvation.
Spiritual death was the fulfillment of Genesis 2:17, that the day that Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would die spiritually. It was immediate; they didn’t die physically for another 900 years.
The Bible teaches that there are three parts to the human being: the physical body; the soul, which is immaterial; and the third component, the human spirit.
In two passages—1 Thessalonians 5 and Hebrews 4:12—the Scriptures clearly distinguish body, soul, and spirit. There are other passages where soul and spirit can be and are used interchangeably. That’s how language is. Some words in some context can be synonymous, but in other contexts it is clear that there is something that marks them as distinct.
In spiritual death, Adam and Eve probably didn’t lose the spirit, but it was no longer functional for them. The human spirit is that which enabled them to understand God, to serve God, to have a relationship with God, and everything in terms of the spiritual life is based on the function of the human spirit.
It works through the mentality, it works through the self-consciousness, it works through the conscience, and it works through individual volition. In spiritual death those were not directed toward God anymore, so at the instant of faith that human spirit is restored.
There is some debate as to whether we have a spirit—a spiritually dead person is just not functional—or whether we don’t have a spirit. I think Jude is very clear. “Not having spirit” doesn’t mean it’s there, but dormant. It says you don’t have it.
On that basis we understand regeneration to be in part the restoration or rebirth of this human spirit, which gives us the potential to have a relationship with God and to walk with Him and to understand His Word.
This comes through faith. It’s clear that faith in the Greek indicates this is the means: it is through faith.
This is the water pipe of faith, and the water is the water of life. It comes through the pipe—through the channel of faith. There is a valve that I’ve labeled The Volition Valve. The spiritually dead sinner who is separated from the life of God needs the water of life. He’s alienated from God and unless he has that he will not have life. So he can either turn the valve on or not.
When he turns the valve on, the water of life—the gospel—flows through, and he drinks of the water of life and is born again. The point is, there is an order of events here, and that is that faith precedes the reception of the gospel—and by that I mean the giving of new life. It’s faith first.
Through faith we are regenerated. That means faith precedes regeneration. It is very clear in this passage that faith precedes regeneration. The theological idea in high Calvinism that regeneration precedes faith is not biblical. We have to understand it because you’ll run into that.
There’s been such a resurgence of Calvinism in the last 40 years. It is a very tight intricate system of theology, and a lot of people are attracted by that and the fact that it’s 500 years old—they relish in things like that. But we have to build our theology from what the text says and not what seems to be theologically consistent.
Ephesians 2:8b, “… that not of yourselves …” “That” cannot refer to the word “faith” because in the Greek the demonstrative pronoun “that” is a neuter pronoun, and a neuter pronoun must refer to a neuter noun or it can refer to a phrase.
The nouns “grace” and “faith” are feminine gender (and God is not gender confused.) So when it says “and that,” “that” cannot refer to either faith or grace. It was typical in Greek if you refer to a phrase, a clause, a sentence, a book or something much larger than just a word, then you would use a neuter pronoun instead of a masculine or a feminine pronoun.
Ephesians 2:8–9, we’ve “been saved through faith” and that ‘by grace through faith salvation’ is not of yourselves, but is a gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.”
There is a need for salvation, expressed in Ephesians 2:1–3, which talks about our spiritual death and the characteristics thereof, which is our focus.
The main idea in the whole section is God as the grammatical subject in Ephesians 2:4.
That God in Ephesians 2:5 “made us alive together with Christ.”
Ephesians 2:6, He “raised us together,” and “made us sit together in the heavenly places.”
That’s what this is all about, but that’s what happened in the past when we were saved. Before we were saved, there was something further in the past and that is the problem of our spiritual death.
There are three parts to this section:
1. The Problem: What we were before we were saved in Ephesians 2:1–3.
2. The solution: what happened when we were saved? God’s love and mercy is defined as God’s grace in that passage; that it is through the mercy of God and His love.
Then the appositional phrase, “for by grace you have been saved through faith.” Grace defines that action of God’s love and His mercy which is the basis for God regenerating us, raising us, and seating us positionally in Christ.
3. The purpose: given in Ephesians 2:10, that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works.
1. Review of key concepts
2. What does the Bible teach about spiritual death? What it is and what it is not.
We will see if we are spiritually dead and alienated from God. And if, according to 1 Corinthians 2:14, the soulish man—the unsaved person—cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, how does he come to understand the gospel? This is very clear. There are many, but we’re going to focus on one passage.
3. What is our “walk according to the course of the world?”
4. We will see all that was directed towards the Gentile unbelievers; then Paul includes the Jewish unbelievers in Ephesians 2:3.
It is very important to distinguish those pronouns: the “we” and the “you.” The “we” either refers to “we unsaved Jews,” “we saved Jews,” or sometimes it refers then to “we Jew and Gentile saved in Christ.” The “you” always refers to “you Gentiles,” so we have to keep that distinction in mind.
I want to point out as part of the review that as we go through Ephesians, there are two things mentioned. We have that which relates to who we are in Christ, our position in Christ, which is mentioned several times.
Ephesians 2:10, we “were created IN Christ for good works.” That’s talking about who we are “in Christ”—our position. But position needs to change our experience, which is always expressed especially by the word “walking”.
We were “created in Christ Jesus—our position in Christ—for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk—that’s experience—in them.” Position means that we should have an experience that conforms to our identity: who we are.
We have two categories on the chart. We trust Christ, believe on Him for salvation Acts 16:31, then we have two realities that apply to us.
The eternal realities, which is our position in Christ. I use a white circle because we are in the light, we are sons of the light, but we do not always walk as if we are sons in the light.
In terms of our position in Christ, only Church Age believers were identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, Romans 6:3-6. That’s the baptism by the Holy Spirit or identification by the Holy Spirit. As a result of that, at the instant of salvation we are regenerated, we’re given new life, and we become a new creature in Christ. We are adopted into God’s royal family.
This little illustration helps: you are born into a family. In the family into which you were born, (let’s take Wesley Hunt here.) He was born into a family of believers. His father exercised strict control and discipline and guidance and instruction on his children.
I haven’t asked him, but I’m sure there were times when his Father would say, “You are in the Hunt family and this is how we in the Hunt family live.” He’s laughing. Is that right (asking Wesley Hunt)? That is his position. He’s a member of that family.
I’m just guessing here because the Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, which would include Wesley Hunt, so he probably did things that violated those standards that his Father set. He would say something like, “No one in this family does those things. This is how you live.” He’s nodding in agreement. He is chuckling along.
That’s true for all of us. When it comes to our relationship with God, at the instant of salvation when we are born again we are adopted into God’s royal family, the Word of God is giving us the standards for how those in the family of God should live.
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. When we do sin, we’re no longer living like we’re a member of God’s family, even though we still are; we’re living like we’re still unbelievers. We’re acting as if we are still of our father the devil, but we’re not.
We have been transferred into the royal family of God. That is how we are supposed to live, that’s our position, but our experience is not what it should be. We’re adopted; we are a new creation; we are created in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are new.”
We are freed from sin. That’s the point of Romans 6:3–6—the baptism by the Spirit: the shackles to the sin nature are broken. It’s still there! It still seeks to acquire that dominion over us again, and too often we put ourselves back under it. That’s the purpose of Romans 6—we are to reckon ourselves or consider ourselves dead to sin.
We have this new life, but sometimes we still live like we’re a dead person. We’ve been sealed or branded by the Holy Spirit to show that we are owned by God. We are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. That’s part of our position.
But on the right-hand side, we now have that circle of our Christian experience, our walk. When we are walking as sons of the light, we are in that white circle and being filled by means of God the Holy Spirit. We are walking by the Spirit, Galatians 5:16; we are abiding in Christ, John 15:1–10.
But when we sin, we let the sin nature dominate our life, and we are no longer walking in the light, we are walking like children of darkness. We are no longer walking by the Spirit, but walking according to the sin nature. We are said to be fleshly, the Old English word was carnal.
The only way to recover is to confess sin, 1 John 1:9, and the promise is because Christ has already paid for all of our sins. Then we are instantly forgiven and cleansed of all sin, and at that point God wipes the slate clean, forgets about our sin, separates them as far from us as the east is from the west, and we can just keep right on moving.
I often use the illustration of an athlete. An athlete sins; in baseball they call it an error. You commit an error, but if you’re a professional athlete you try not to let that bother you; you wipe the slate clean and you keep moving forward. You forget it; it’s in the past. That’s what Paul says, forgetting those things that are behind us and pressing on to the high calling of Christ. We confess our sin and move forward.
The issue is positionally, we are in Christ. Experientially, we may be walking in the light or we may not.
Ephesians 2:1, let me give you a pop quiz here, “And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Is “in trespasses and sins,” positional or experiential? That’s positional.
Ephesians 2:2, “in which you once walked.” Positional or experience? That’s experience.
We have to keep those two categories clearly in mind as we walk our way through Ephesians 2.
What’s described here is spiritual death. We have to answer the question,
2. What is spiritual death, and how does a spiritually dead person hear and understand the Gospel?
Slides 23, 24
Ephesians 2:1–3, “And y’all—he’s talking to the Gentiles—and y’all who were dead in trespasses and sins in which—the ‘which’ only refers to the sins; it doesn’t refer to trespasses. It’s a feminine noun. It refers to the feminine noun of sins, and sins is the broader category.
“Trespasses” is more narrow, so by using the broader term he includes both—in which sins y’all once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.
Ephesians 2:3, “among whom also we all conducted ourselves …” The “we” contextually is “we Jews:” we were the first one saved and entering into the body of Christ. But now Gentiles are part of the body of Christ. Both of us were guilty of sins. We didn’t have a leg up, we weren’t a little bit less sinful—“among whom also we all once conducted ourselves …”
“Among whom,” that is, among the sons of disobedience. The term “sons of disobedience” where it’s used in the New Testament, always refers to unbelievers. Paul is saying there, “we walked among the sons of disobedience,” and the sons of disobedience were characterized by being “dead in their trespasses and sins, walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince the power, the air …”
He’s saying we’re both in the same boat. Everybody is a sinner. Everybody has come short of the glory of God’s character—all of His essence.
“… you were dead in trespasses and sins” is defined further in Ephesians 4:18 as those “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God.”
It’s important to understand they’re not like a corpse. This analogy that you hear from Calvinists is a false analogy.
“Alienated” has the idea of being separated, of being estranged, so we are estranged from God. This is the way to understand spiritual death: it’s separation from the source of life. Not nonexistent, not like a corpse that can’t hear, can’t respond in terms of just wanting to know more about God, has no knowledge of the Bible: something has to happen.
APALLOTRIOO is also used in Ephesians 2:12, the fact that “y’all—the Gentiles, previously, before this dispensation—were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.” They were in existence, but they were estranged or separated from the Commonwealth of Israel.
In this next part we need to understand in terms of thinking about our regeneration here because if you’re alienated from God, you have to be restored.
A reminder of what I showed you earlier, this means that you have to go from spiritual death, which is alienated from God—which means they don’t have a human spirit that enables them to have a relationship with God or to understand the things of God. Something has to happen. How does that spiritually dead person come to understand the truth of Scripture?
Calvinists: dead men cannot hear, they cannot exercise positive volition, they can’t think about spiritual things, they can’t respond to the gospel; so therefore, dead men must first be made alive, and then they can hear, and then they can believe.
For them regeneration precedes faith, and faith has to be given by God because it’s different from any other kind of faith. But the Scripture contradicts this.
John 5:25 Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead will—not—hear the voice of the Son of God.” Is that what it said? No—“the dead will hear.” Amazing!
Jesus is saying that the spiritually dead person can hear. Calvinists say the spiritually dead person can’t hear. For the Calvinist, positive volition is considered meritorious. Hearing and understanding must be meritorious; believing is meritorious, and this is just bogus, fake theology.
Faith has merit only because the One in whom we believe has done the work. The merit is what was done on the Cross, not in the believing. Anybody can believe.
You got up this morning, looked at your clock, and believed that it was telling you exactly what time it was. You assumed there was no power outage during the night and that the clock was accurate—you believed that.
Anybody can believe—and people do believe just about anything. It is what they believe; it is the content of the faith that is important. We are saved, Scripture says, by faith in Christ Jesus. Not just faith in God, not just faith that somehow it’ll all work out. But by believing that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and that by believing we will have life in His name.
In John 16, our Lord is talking to His disciples the night before He went to the Cross. Earlier they had the Last Supper (Seder), and He repurposed the wine and the bread. Then He began to teach them about what was going to happen in terms of the new Church Age.
One of the primary themes in John 14:15–16 is that He is going to leave, but He is going to send a replacement Comforter. That’s probably the most common word for translating it; there are different nuances. He calls Himself a PARAKLETE: Comforter, One who came to tell the truth. He’s going to be replaced by another One Who is the Holy Spirit.
He explains this in John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away the Helper—the Comforter, the PARAKLETE, the Holy Spirit—will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
That’s the background; the Holy Spirit is coming and this is what He is going to do.
John 16:8 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
He’s going to do these three things, and it all hinges on understanding the word that is translated “convict.”
“Convict” isn’t a word that is probably the best today. Most translators use the word “convince,” which catches the idea of the Greek, ELENCHO.
“All Scripture has been breathed out by God and is profitable for reproof …” ELENCHO.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
Sin is a word that is not user-friendly to people who have never been to church and never studied the Bible. They think that sin is restricted to a few extremely horrible things, and they often think you are insulting them when you say they’re a sinner. The Bible uses a word that simply means you missed the mark, you failed, you committed an error or you did something that wasn’t right according to God’s standard.
All of us have done things that aren’t right. We have failed in many different areas. Some that we may say aren’t so big and important; others in a more major area. He is going to come and convince believers of sin. Is that what it says? He convicts the world! He convicts the world of sin.
There are several different nuances to “convict” in the Greek dictionaries, but it is the idea of convicting or convincing someone of something, pointing out to them an error with a view towards correcting them. That’s what He’s going to do.
The object of this is the world. The Greek is KOSMOS, from which we get our word “cosmetic.” The root idea of KOSMOS is an orderly system, which is why that comes over as cosmetic. You put your face on, ladies; you organize your face. That’s the idea of KOSMOS.
In the Bible KOSMOS has to do with the thought system of those who are not conformed to the Word of God. KOSMOS relates to all kinds of things. The first time I really had a consciousness of the word, I was about 16 years old. We had a 28-year-old senior at Dallas Seminary named Charlie Clough teaching an Adult Sunday School class at Berachah Church.
He used the phrase KOSMOS DIABOLIKOS, and I went, “What in the world is that?” He used that because that was a word the Lewis Sperry Chafer used. Chafer was the founder of Dallas Seminary, he wrote a seven-volume systematic theology. It describes the world order apart from God, apart from Christ. It’s an orderly system of thinking. It may have a lot of different facets.
The KOSMOS, as the world system, involves many different religions and many different philosophies. It may be a religion worshiping Allah; it may be a religion that doesn’t have a personal, infinite God, such as Buddhism or Hinduism. It may be a philosophical system, such as secular humanism, existentialism or postmodernism.
All of those are just different ways in which man expresses two satanic ideas that were evident in Satan’s rebellion against God:
1. The assertion of autonomy and independence from God
2. Antagonism: hatred of God, hatred of His Word, hatred of the cross.
All world systems manifest those two ideas. They are all contrary to Christianity. That is what the world represents, so the world needs to be convicted of sin, that they have violated God’s standard; secondly, of righteousness; and third, of judgment.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his Systematic Theology:
“In view of a finished work by Christ wherein sin is borne and all blessings are secured, the immeasurable failure for the individual for whom Christ has died is that he does not believe on Him. It is noticeable, though contrary to general opinion, that the Spirit does not enlighten the mind with respect to all the sins the individual has committed.”
“It is not a matter of creating shame or remorse concerning sin, nor is it so much as a reminder of sin that has been committed—though there is nothing, on the other hand, to preclude sorrow and consciousness of sin; it is rather that, since sin has been borne by Christ, there remains the one great and only responsibility of one’s attitude toward the Savior who bore the sin.”
He convicts the world not of sins, but of sin. What is that sin? It is the rejection of Christ. This is what Chafer is saying.
“This unbelief—that is, is the unbelief or rejection of the Cross—the Lord declared as the basis of final condemnation, when He said, ‘he that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he who believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’ ”
It is not that he hasn’t been good enough, that he hasn’t been part of the right church or the right religion, it is the single factor that he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
This is the focal point of what the Holy Spirit convicts the world of.
It’s defined in John 16:9, “of sin, because they do not believe in Me.”
When you’re evangelizing, witnessing to somebody, it’s not about their sins. The Holy Spirit is going to convict them of their sin of unbelief, so that’s how we are to present the gospel. Why give the Holy Spirit extra work to unravel our bad stuff, our bad communication?
We are to explain that Jesus is the only way, that it’s only by faith that they have eternal life. The Holy Spirit is going to be convicting them that they are guilty of sin, singular, and “because they do not believe in Me.”
John 16:10, “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more.”
He convicts of righteousness because we do not have righteousness. Isaiah 6:4 says all of our works of righteousness are as filthy rags: all of our works of righteousness. That’s the best that we have to offer. God says that’s just filthy garbage, rags, it’s irrelevant. It’s not that good. It may be a lot better than the person next to you, but when it comes to God’s standard, it just doesn’t measure up.
“… of righteousness, because I go to the Father and you see Me no more.”
John 16:11, “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
- “Of sin because they do not believe in Me,
- Of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see me no more,
- Of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
The ruler of this world is Satan. That’s interesting because he’s called the prince of the power of the air in our passage in Ephesians 1, and he is also called the god of this age in 2 Corinthians 4:3–4.
That’s a fascinating passage because it begins in 2 Corinthians 4:3, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing—but that doesn’t mean that they can’t respond. It just means it’s more difficult; it’s veiled—whose minds the god of this age has blinded.”
According to the Calvinists, if a person is spiritually dead, they can’t have positive volition, they can’t hear, they can’t respond, they can’t have faith unless God does all of that for them, makes them alive before they believe, then why is it necessary for Satan to blind the minds of a completely dead corpse?
It would not be necessary at all because they can’t do anything. Again, this verse completely turns the Calvinist view on its head. It is completely wrong.
Scripture says the whole world is under the control of the evil one, 1 John 5:19
What is our walk according to the course of this world? Ephesians 2:2, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world …”—according to the kosmic system.
You were antagonistic to God and arrogant, and this world system is energized by Satan. It’s Satan’s thinking and you’re walking “according to the prince of the power of the air—another title for Satan—the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
That phrase “the air” was, in Greek thought, the atmosphere around the earth. This was the domain of the immaterial spirits. It is talking about the area of the demons and their activities, which is energized by the spirit that is Satan, “… who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
Ephesians 2:3, “among whom also—that is, among the sons of disobedience—we all—that is, we Jews—once conducted ourselves—ANASTROPHE in the Greek. It is parallel to walking; it is conducting a lifestyle; and it is energized by and motivated—by the lusts of our flesh—term for the sin nature—fulfilling the desires—or the lusts—of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath.”
The Scripture says those who reject God, reject the gospel are objects of God’s wrath; that’s His judgment in time. They are just like the Gentiles; they are under the condemnation of God as unbelievers. “… just as the others.” He’s talking about the Jews; “just as the others” is just as the unbelieving Gentiles.
The problem is we’re spiritually dead. That doesn’t mean we can’t look at the testimony of God revealed nonverbally in His creation. The heavens declare the glory of God. We can look at the stars, look at creation and say, “I want to know how this came to be? I want to know if there’s a God. I want to know what’s out there.”
God will bring more specific revelation to that person. Just because they exercise positive volition at the instant that they become conscious of a God, doesn’t mean they’ll respond positively to the gospel, but it’s the first step.
Eventually, they will hear the gospel, because God will bring them someone who will give them the gospel. When they believe, not when they commit their life to Christ. PISTIS does not mean commit; it means believe. Only when they believe in Christ. When you look at John 3:18, they’re condemned because they have not believed.
Not because they have not committed themselves to Christ, not because they have asked Christ into their life, not because they have asked Christ to enter into their whole being.
“Behold, I stand at the door knocking,” Revelation 3:20, is not talking about salvation. It’s talking about fellowship. It’s a letter addressed to carnal Christians to get right with God and to have fellowship with Him.
The path to salvation—to recover from spiritual death, is simply faith in Christ.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity we’ve had to study Your Word, to come to understand it more fully, more accurately. Father, we’re thankful that we have a salvation that is not dependent on us because we cannot regenerate ourselves, we cannot bring new life.
“But we have responded to the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, where He has convicted the world of sin and convicted the world of their unbelief of Christ and their lack of righteousness, and that they are following the course of the god of this age.
“Father, we pray that we might come to understand this more fully, that we may more accurately present the gospel to those around us, understanding that that is part of our mission in this Church Age.
“Father, we are also thankful for the fact that today we have the opportunity to present the gospel to those who are here, who may not have ever trusted Christ as Savior, as well as those who are listening online or those who will eventually listen to this recording.
“Father, we pray that You would use this to open the eyes of their soul to the truth of the gospel, that they would believe in Jesus Christ and trust in Him, and that we know that at that instant they will be given new life in Christ and be born again and enter into a new life that can never be taken from them.
“Father, we pray that You would encourage and challenge each of us in our daily spiritual life and spiritual walk that we might pursue You and pursue the knowledge of Your Word evermore diligently. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”