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I SEE DEAD PEOPLE
Intro: Some years ago a movie entitled “The Sixth Sense” was released. In that film, a little boy appears to be suffering from some sort of mental disorder. It turns out that his problems result from the fact that he sees ghosts. The problem with the ghosts this little boy sees is that the ghosts do not know they are ghosts. They do not know they are dead. Among the dead people the little boy encounters is a child psychologist who attempts to help the little boy with his problems. The psychologist also does not realize that he dead. The climactic moment of the film comes when the boy looks at the psychologist and says, “I see dead people!”
Movies and books that follow that theme are on the increase. There is a morbid fascination with death, dying, and the dead. This is especially true in the realm of zombie literature. Zombies are dead people who have somehow returned to life. These zombies have an insatiable desire for human flesh. There has been a dramatic increase in books and films related to ghosts and zombies. Our world is fascinated by the dead.
Just for the record, I do not believe in either ghosts or zombies. The Bible is crystal clear on this matter. When you die, you go either to Heaven or Hell. You do not come back to either haunt or eat the living. Thank God!
The reason I mention these things as I introduce this passage is because I also see dead people. I look around me and see a world that is filled with the living dead. These poor people live around us, and even among us, but they do not know that they are dead. They are born, they live, they work, they marry, they reproduce, they find pleasure, they love, they hate, they fight, they give, they receive, they go on vacation, and they even sit in churches. They often live rich, full lives, yet they are dead. There may even be a few dead people among us right now. We are literally surrounded by spiritual zombies.
This passage details the desperate condition of the lost sinner. This passage also reminds every redeemed child of God of what they were before God saved them by His grace. In chapter 1, Paul reminded us of our riches in Christ. He told us how God came to us, saved us by his grace, and adopted us into his family. Paul reminded us that the salvation we enjoy is completely of the Lord.
This passage details what we were before we met the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage also declares the hopeless, helpless condition of those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. This passage exposes the devastating results of sin’s intrusion into the human race.
I want to take these verses, and preach on the subject: “I See Dead People”. I want to share with you the characteristics that are common to all those who are trapped in the bondage of sin. If you’ve never been saved, this message is designed to teach you the truth about sin and its consequences. If you are saved, this message is designed to remind you of where you were when Jesus found you, and how He saved you and transformed your life by his power. This description of the lost around us and among us ought to stir our hearts to reach them with the Gospel of grace that they too might come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior!
Notice the characteristics of those who are “dead in trespasses and sin”, as I preach on the subject “I See Dead People”.
I. v. 1 LOST PEOPLE ARE DEAD
(Ill. The phrase, “And you hath He quickened…” has reference to the Ephesian believers. Paul is been writing to them to remind them of their exalted place in Jesus Christ. And, as he writes these words, he is reminding them of their wretched past in sin. He reminds them that though they once were dead in their sins, now in Jesus Christ, they have been made alive. The word “quickened,” means to be “made to live”.
While Paul was writing to the Saints, there is also a message here to every person who hears these words. In truth, Paul was writing to the entire human race. He is writing you. So, I remind you, if you know the Lord, I want to talk about your past. As we do, you should rejoice that Jesus has delivered you from that past. If you do not know the Lord, Paul is describing your life today. And if this passage still finds you dead in sin, I encourage you to turn to Jesus and be saved today.)
A. Their Condition – Paul tells his readers that they were “dead”. This word literally means “a corpse.” It was the word used to describe “a dead body”. In this passage, it refers to “one devoid of all spiritual life.” It refers to one who is “spiritually dead”. It speaks to the fact that lost sinners are absolutely unable to initiate any movement toward God. It reminds us that they are unwilling and incapable of coming to God by their own initiative.
When we think of death, we all have a good idea of what it means. When a person dies, they are unable to respond to any impulse, or any stimuli, neither are they able to perform any functions whatsoever. They lack all power and ability. When a person dies, their body is reduced to an empty, in animate object that possesses no ability to hear, see, think, or respond to any stimuli. The touches that used to thrill them no longer elicit a response. The voices that they were so familiar with can no longer be heard. The eyes that once marveled at the beauty of this world can no longer see. The body, which was once vital and alive, has become just an empty shell.
Nearly everyone here has had experiences in this area. We have all experienced the death of a loved one. When they die, they no longer know us, nor do they respond to our presence. They are like Lazarus. He was dead and buried in his tomb. Outside that tomb his sisters and their friends were weeping and mourning his death. Even Jesus came and spoke to the mourners outside the tomb of Lazarus. Lazarus was unaware of any of those events. Why? He was dead! The widow of Nain’s son was unaware of his mother’s sobs as they carried his body away to be buried. He was dead! The daughter of Jairus was unaware of the cries of her broken hearted parents. She was dead!
When a physical body dies, it loses the ability to respond to this physical world. In a spiritual sense, it is the perfect illustration of those who do not know the Lord.
Paul says that the lost are “dead”. What is death? Death is the opposite of life. In John 17:3, Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” In other words, those who know the Lord are alive, while those who do not know Jesus Christ are dead. John repeats this truth in 1 John 5:12, where he says, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
Paul says the lost are “dead”. What is true of a dead body is also true of those who are dead in sin. The lost are alive to this world. They live in it, move in it, love in it, laugh in it, and seek pleasure in it; but they are dead even while they live. They are not dead to the world, but they are dead to God. They cannot see Him, feel Him, know Him, sense Him or get to Him on their own. They are devoid of all spiritual life.
Not everyone believes this about the lost sinner. Many people believe that the lost have the ability approach God when they want to, and on their own terms. Most folk have the idea that the lost are capable of making a decision for the Lord. The facts are quite different.
If sinners are truly “dead”, then they are unable to come to God, and God must make the first move in salvation. This dovetails precisely with what Jesus said in John 6:44; 65. You see, the lost are not merely sick and in need of healing; they are lost and in need of a resurrection. They need to be “quickened” so they can come to Jesus Christ and be saved. And that, my friends, is entirely the work of God!
On writer said, “When Adam sinned, his children bruised their knees”. In truth, when Adam sinned, his children died, Rom. 5:12! When Paul says that the lost are dead “in” trespasses and sins; he means literally that the lost are dead “because” of their trespasses and sins. Sin is the root cause of mankind’s spiritual deadness. The lost will stay in that state of deadness until God comes to them and raises them from the dead like He did with the daughter of Jairus, the widow’s son and Lazarus.
If you have never come to Jesus Christ for salvation, you are dead. That is why the things of God mean nothing to you. That is why you never “feel” anything when you come to church. That is why the things that stir the hearts of the redeemed never stir your heart. You are dead, and you need to be born again!
That is why lost people come to church and hear the Gospel and leave unmoved by the things of God. The dead find spiritual truth boring. God’s word holds no interest for the lost. The fact that they are physically alive is proven by the deeds mentioned in verses 2-3. They are not bored with worldly things; in fact, they find their meaning in the things that appeal to the flesh. They are spiritually dead and need a resurrection!
Ill. How I well remember those dark days of spiritual death. I was alive in the world, but dead to God. The things of God held no interest for my dead heart. His Word, His music, His church, His Savior, His people; I was dead to them all. Church, preaching, Christian people, even the name of Jesus were all drudgery to my heart in those days. Nothing mattered but my pleasure and my sin. I was a spiritual zombie; a walking dead man; without God and without hope in this world, Eph. 2:12.
I bless the glorious day when Jesus Christ came to me there in the tomb of my sin. I remember how He quickened me and made me alive to the things of God. Oh what a change! It was a “new birth”, John 3:3, 7. And, I was a “new creature”, 2 Cor. 5:17. Before I met God, I was dead to Him and to all He represents. Things that had never moved me before I met Him now arrested my heart. Those things that I was dead to previously were now the glory and rejoicing of my soul. It has been many years, but the life that Jesus Christ placed within me when He saved me still pulses with divine excitement. I thank God for His Word, His House, His people, His worship, His presence, His music; everything that has anything to do with Him what thrills my heart!
Has that happened to you? Have you been brought back from the dead? If you have, then you know the joy of which I speak. If you haven’t, then you are still dead to the things of God. If you are lost, you do not need rehabilitation; you do not need religion; you need a resurrection! You need to be born again. You need the God of glory to draw you to the Lord Jesus Christ, and breathe the “breath of life” into your dead spirit. To put it simply, you need to come to Jesus for salvation! If you will, He will receive you and He will save you by His grace, for His glory!
B. Their Circumstances – Having told us about the condition of the lost, Paul talks about their circumstances. That is, he speaks of the realm in which they live and operate. They may be dead spiritually, but they are very alive physically. Their physical life is characterized by two very specific details. Paul tells us that they are “dead in trespasses and sins”. These two words are worth considering for a moment.
· Trespasses – This word means, “to cross a boundary”. It refers to “a lapse or deviation from truth and righteousness”. It has the idea of “a slip, a fall, and a stumble; of a going in the wrong direction.” The word speaks of an attitude that stands in opposition to the things of God. A trespass occurs when a person crosses a clear boundary that has been established by the Lord. God draws His line in the sand. He says that mankind is not to go beyond that point. When a sinner steps over that boundary, they are guilty of trespass. They have crossed God’s boundary and they are in sin. Every sinful act is a trespass against God’s Word, His holiness, His Person, and His glory.
· Sins – This word comes from a word that means, “to miss the mark”. It is a hunting term. It pictures a hunter taking aim at his prey, loosing his arrow, and completely missing his target. It was a word that came to be used of “falling short of any goal, standard or purpose.” When applied to the sinner, it pictures the sinner falling short of, and completely missing, God’s perfect standards of holiness and righteousness. It is the most common word used to describe sin in the New Testament, appearing some 173 times.
Paul does not use these two words to describe two different types of sinful activity. He uses them to emphasize the great breadth of sinfulness of those who are spiritually dead. What he is talking about here is man’s condition, and man response to that condition. These words do not describe individual acts of sin. They describe the very sphere in which the lost sinner finds himself. In that lost condition, the lost sinner proves he is a sinner by the things he does. Man manifests his sinfulness through sinful deeds.
Let me see if I can illustrate this for you. A person does not become a liar because he lies. He lies because he is already a liar. A person does not become a murderer because he kills. He kills because there is already murder in his heart. A person doesn’t become a thief because he steals. He steals because he is a thief already in his heart. The same is true for any other sin you can think of. People do not become sinners because they sin; they sin because they are sinners! The outward manifestations of human sin are always a reflection of the heart.
You see, people are not born with the ability to choose between good and evil, or between God and the world. According to the Bible, people are born into this world in inescapable bondage to their sins, Psa. 51:5. Every person enters this world the sworn enemy of God, Rom. 8:7. That is why the lost sinner must be converted!
Jesus said it this way, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things,” Matt. 12:34-35.
He also said this: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies,” Matt. 15:18-19.
All sinners are dead, but some give evidence of more decay in their lives. If you were to walk onto a battlefield and see a dozen corpses, they would all share one thing in common; they would all be dead. They might be in differing stages of decay, but they would all be dead. Those who have been dead longer would be no more dead than those who have just been killed. Dead is dead!
While the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He raised three people from the dead. He raised the daughter of Jairus; the Widow of Nain’s son, and Lazarus. The daughter of Jairus had been dead few minutes when Jesus arrived. She probably looked as though she were merely sleeping. She was warm to the touch, and may not have even looked dead, but she was! The widow of Nain’s son had probably been dead a few hours, and they were carrying his body away to be buried when Jesus passed by. This boy’s body was cold, but he has not actually started the decomposition process. Still, he was dead! Lazarus had been dead four days when Jesus came to the spot where he was buried. He was in such an advanced state of decomposition that his sister Martha was worried about the smell when Jesus commanded them to move the gravestone. There was no doubt that Lazarus was dead.
The thing to note about all three of these individuals is that they were at differing degrees of decomposition, but they were all dead. When we speak of spiritual death, we need to understand that every person who is not saved is dead in his or her sins. The good boy or girl in Sunday School is just as dead as the drunk in the gutter. The lost preacher is just as dead as the drug addict on the street. The lost church member is just as dead as the mass murderer. Dead is dead! The only that stands as a difference between the dead is their degree of composition.
The deeds of the flesh declare the allegiance of the heart. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit,” Rom. 8:5.
Because man is a sinner, he is separated from God, Isa. 59:2. The Bible says that every single person in the world is in this condition. Rom. 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” This verse places all humanity in the same condition. The lost sinner, who is not in a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, is dead in “trespasses and sins”. In other words, they are dead even while they live in the world. They are dead even while they live out their sinful lives.
Again, when Paul uses these two words, he is referring to the sphere in which lost people live. In that realm of life they are unable to come to God. They are dead to the things of God and they have no desire to turn to Him for salvation. That is why Jesus said it is necessary for God to make the first move in salvation, John 6:44, 65.
Even if some lost person did try to come to God, that sinner could never get reach Him through their own efforts. That is why religious activity apart from faith in the Lord Jesus is a colossal waste of time.
Someone has described the human race as a large group of diverse people standing on the bank of a wide river. The opposite bank is perhaps a mile away. They all attempt to jump across the divide. The very young and the very old cannot jump far at all. Young adults and the physically strong can jump a little farther. The athletes in the crowd can jump farther still, but not a single one of them can reach the other side. They may do better than the person on either side of them, but they all fail to even come close to reaching the goal. They all fall short.
So it is with the lost sinner. They may be good to their families. They may do good works. They may even be religious and active in the church. But, they are just like that crowd trying to jump across that wide river. They are attempting to accomplish the impossible. No one is saved based on how good they are; how religious they are; or how far they can jump in God’s direction. Salvation comes through God’s grace alone, Eph. 2:8. Salvation comes when a lost sinner turns to Jesus Christ by faith, Acts 16:31. And, that is something the lost sinner simply cannot and will not do until God makes the first move. But, when He does call that sinner, and they do respond by coming to Him in faith, they are forever changed!
Remember Lazarus? He was dead and buried in that tomb. He was oblivious to the grief and the tears of his friends and family just outside that tomb. He was oblivious to the presence of the Lord Jesus as He spoke and prayed outside that tomb. But, the Lord called the name of Lazarus, and brought him out of death. Lazarus heard that call and he came out of the tomb. He was made alive by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ! When he came out, Jesus said, “Loose him and let him go.” Not only was he delivered from death, but also he was set free from the bondage of the grave. He was raised to live a new life in Jesus. The same can happen to you. Is He calling you? Come to Him now and He will save you and set you free!
Conc: As we move through the next few verses, we will see the sinfulness of sinners very clearly. In these verses, Paul paints a dismal picture of the human race. As I close out our time together today, I do not want to end this message on a sad note. I want to tell you the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners. He entered into death that He might give life to all those who come to Him for salvation. When He died on the cross, He died that you might be saved from your sins. He died so that you might have the spiritual resurrection you so desperately need.
As we close our thoughts today, here is the invitation:
· If you are not saved, and you aware of your need of a Savior; it is only because the Lord is calling you to come to Him. If He is calling you, please do not push Him away. Come to Jesus today, and He will save your soul. He will bring you out of the deadness of sin and give you new live in God. Come to Jesus and be saved.
· If you are saved, you should come to Him and thank Him for resurrecting you from the deadness, darkness and depravity of your sins. You should prostrate yourself in His presence and glory in His love for you, and in His grace in your life.
· If you are burdened over those lost ones in your life; those who are trapped in their sins; I challenge you to come before God today and pray for their salvation.