Make sure you’ve read Part 1 in this series focusing on the stages of spiritual growth by Ashley Chesnut. Today’s post is the second in this six-part series and discusses those who are spiritually dead.
Who are the spiritually dead?
Writing to the believers at Ephesus, Paul uses the following description: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:1-3).
In Ephesians, Paul utilizes military language throughout the book, and the picture in the verses above are that of a military procession after a battle. The victors would chain those whom they had defeated and would march through the conquered city pulling their enemy behind them. The captives had no choice but to follow as they were pulled along by their captors. As slaves to sin (Jn. 8:34), the unsaved have no choice but to follow the course of this world. Sin separates us from God (Rom. 3:23), and we are unable to fix ourselves. We can never be good enough. The punishment for sin is to be separated from God forever, and since all of us are sinners (Rom. 3:10, 12), we all deserve this punishment.
“But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:4-6, 8-9).
How do we help the spiritually dead?
- Build relationships with people who are unsaved. We can’t share the gospel with people we do not know. Also, people need to know that we genuinely care about them, are interested in them, and aren’t just treating them like spiritual projects. Who are the people already in your sphere of influence (family, co-workers, classmates, friends, neighbors, etc.) who are not Christ-followers? How can you nurture these relationships and be intentional in talking to them about the gospel?
- Weave the gospel into conversations with them. People cannot choose to turn from their sin and trust in Christ if they have not first heard the gospel. We must actually verbalize the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Be willing to listen to them as well as to ask them questions about what they believe and why.
- Live lives aligned with Scripture. In Philippians 1:27, Paul urges believers to live a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Our lifestyles and choices should match the words that we utter and should point people to Christ instead of away from Him.
- Pray for them!
What are areas in which you need to grow in order to better invest in the spiritually dead in your life? What next step can you take to grow?
Our pastor recently preached a sermon series called “Threads” on the five components of the gospel (the character of God, the sinfulness of man, the sufficiency of Christ, the necessity of faith, and the urgency of eternity) and how to weave these threads into your everyday conversations with people. I strongly encourage everyone to listen to this sermon series as well as to pray for the salvation of unsaved people in your own life. Pray for personal boldness and for clear communication in expressing what you believe. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts of the unsaved and to give them understanding. Pray for the salvation of those who are currently in parts of the world where they will likely be born, live, and die without ever hearing the good news of salvation through Christ.
The next post will address spiritual infants.
Ashley Chesnut lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and works on the Local Disciple-Making Team at The The Church at Brook Hills. Having grown up in college ministry, Ashley has a passion for discipling college girls and for writing and teaching others about God’s Word. Check out more about discipleship and women’s ministry at the Brook Hills Women’s Blog.
Growing True Disciples - Barna
Growing Disciples Series: http://www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/Growing-Disciples-Series