Our Sad State (& Miraculous Cure) (pt. 2 of 3)

In the last message I sent, we saw that Paul opened the second chapter of Ephesians by affirming that before we came to Christ, we were dead because of our trespasses and sins Then I began to examine that there are two basic characteristics of being dead. The first one I told you was our impotence; our powerlessness. Well, the second characteristic is corruption. Now, I don’t mean to be crude, but the reason mortuaries exist is because, well . . . our dead bodies immediately begin to deteriorate. They decay, they fall apart, lose their consistency, start to rot, and to . . . well . . . smell. I apologize if that grosses you out, but it does pertain to what we need to understand.

Do you remember the story of Lazarus, and how Martha told Jesus, “It’s too late, he already stinks He has been dead four days” (John 11:39)? Well, I guess I wasn’t too gross because even the Bible talks about it, right? Well, that is a mark of death — corruption. Impotence and corruption! Paul uses two words here which relate to those two conditions, and that is why he says that men without Christ are dead. First, he uses the word trespasses; they are “dead through their trespasses.” Do you know what a trespass is? It comes from a word which means “to miss your step.” Whenever I go to our basement, I aim for the first step, but if I happen to miss it and come down on the second step, that is a trespass. I have misstepped. I didn’t intend to; I aimed for the top step and fully intended to step on it, but, for whatever reason, I missed it. Although my intention was right, the result was wrong.

Yeah, it is a rather simplistic analogy, but this is what Paul says characterizes our humanity. We are guilty of missteps. Some translations refer to it as “failures,” “things you did against God,” We don’t mean to do it, but we still end up messing up. It goes back to the seventh chapter of Romans: “I want to do good, but I do evil.” Oh, my! We start out with great ideals (at least most of us), with an image of what we would like to be. We aim to obey, but somewhere we miss the mark.

Even when we finally achieve the things we thought we wanted, we realize that they are hollow pleasures, empty, unsatisfying. We call it that widespread disease of “destination sickness.” That’s where you arrive where you wanted to go, but don’t like it. That is what I mean about the impotence of our lives. We have no hope of fulfilling our best ideals. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we resolve, no matter how much we make declarations, something stands in our way. That is a mark of the death each of us experience.

Many years ago, a researcher by the name of Os Guinness, wrote a book entitled, “Dust of Death.” The book contained some very penetrating studies and analyses of what and how men thought about the future, and what humanity could do about it.

In his research for the book, Guinness had read many books and saw that there is a polarization that existed in human thought between extremes of a complete and utter pessimism, to a stark, realistic pessimism which sees no hope whatsoever for the future beyond a few short years ahead. He stated that most of the books are like that — or possessed naive and completely unrealistic optimism, which says that, despite all the problems, somehow we are going to work it all out. “The mass of humanity swings desperately back and forth between those two extremes.”

This is what Kerry Livgen understood when he wrote”Dust in The Wind.” The song was written after reading a book of Native American poetry. The line that caught his attention was “For All We Are Is Dust In The Wind.”

It got him thinking about the real value of material things and the meaning of success. The band he was in, Kansas, was doing quite well and making money, but Livgen realized that in the end, he would eventually die “just like everyone else. No matter our possessions or accomplishments, we all end up back in the ground.”

Livgren wrote “Dust In The Wind” when he was under pressure to write a follow-up to the group’s hit, “Carry On Wayward Son.” The guitar lines were originally finger exercises the Livgren used as he was attempting to learn fingerpicking. His wife, Vicci, heard what he was doing, and said that the melody was nice, and encouraged him to write lyrics for it. Livgren stated, “I didn’t think it was a Kansas-type song, but she said, ‘Give it a try anyway.’ Several million records later, I guess she was right.”

In 1980, Livgren became an evangelical Christian and when he was speaking of his songwriting in the ’70s, said, “I was only expressing my own searching for something,” adding, “If you look at my lyrics, even ‘Dust in the Wind’ is a song about the transitory nature of our physical lives. That falls under the umbrella heading of God.”

Personally, I always found it interesting that it was written during a time of deep searching, which led to him finally finding Jesus.

Whether he realized it or not, the title of the song, “Dust in The Wind,” could easily be a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes:

“ I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded: Everything he has accomplished is futile — like chasing the wind!”

Dust in the Wind” was one of Kansas’s first acoustic tracks and its slow melancholy melody and philosophical lyrics were much different from their other hits such as “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Point of Know Return.”

“Dust In The Wind”

I close my eyes only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind

Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy

Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind (all we are is dust in the wind)
Dust in the wind (everything is dust in the wind), everything is dust in the wind

I would say that this is exactly what Paul was attempting to present! There is this well-intentioned, misstepping tendency within each one of us.

I always pictured Dust In The Wind, representing Ephesians 2:1, being helpless and having no hope. Then, we have the song, Carry on Wayward Son, being the response:

“Carry On Wayward Son”

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I’m dreaming,
I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man,
Well, it surely means that I don’t know

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about, I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune,
But I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more no!

Well, it’s a thought, anyway! But beyond that, we need to talk about our sins. We can’t just think of the times when we fail when we mean to do right because there are times when we fully intend to do wrong. That is our sin.

Sin is a violation of truth when we know it to be truth. It is like the adulterers who pray, “Father, forgive us for what we are about to do.” Now don’t laugh. I realize it sounds ridiculous, but I know a pastor who confessed to saying those very words. You see, it is our deliberate violation of what we know to do, that is what creates a downward pull, a deterioration in our lives. It has been said before that the sin of adultery begins long before the intercourse. Their hearts and minds were involved first.

Some of us begin with rather high ideals and wholesome attitudes. We approach life with good moral standards because of the homes we were raised in and the training we have received. We are the ones who find it most difficult to believe this passage. All of us can remember things that we do right now with utter disregard and total acceptance, but a few years ago, it would have horrified us if someone suggested we would be doing it.

Even when we did those things the first time, we were uneasy and nervous about it. But alas, they have now become commonplace, something we indulge without any hesitation. My friends, don’t hide from this because it marks a drastic downward trend, a deteriorating faculty of your life. It is a mark of death, an increasing corruption which produces an awful, terrible sense of despair and hopelessness and corruption.

That is Paul’s analysis. See how accurate it is when you set it against your life. No other philosophy can ever explain human life this clearly. This is the condition of our carnal man.

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

This entry was posted in A Life of Prayer, A Perfect Heart, A Time of Elightenment, Daily Thoughts, Ephesians. Bookmark the permalink.

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