In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul is letting the saints know that they were once dead (spiritually speaking). They were separated from God, dead in their trespasses and sins. They were going their own way, rebelling against God, following the world, and satan. They were disobedient and hostile towards God. They could not submit to God (Romans 8:7). They were living in the passions of their flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and was by nature children of wrath just like the rest of mankind.
Paul has a pretty good way of letting us know that we are not good people. He tells us this in so many ways, DEAD, hostile towards God, do not seek God, none are good, none are righteous (Romans 3:10-12). That all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Paul also tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
We read that the natural person is dead in his sins, he is following the world, satan, and self, he cannot submit to God because he is in rebellion against God, he is hostile towards God, he does not seek God, he is not able to understand the things of God (the gospel), because they are spiritually discerned and he (the natural man) does not have the spirit of God within him.
So, how does a natural man come to Jesus? How does a natural man accept Jesus? A man that is spiritually dead, who does not seek God, is hostile towards God, cannot submit to God, is following the world, satan and self, who by nature is a child of wrath? How does the natural man who is of the world receive the spirit of truth of whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him (John 14:17)? How?
Jesus clearly tells us in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” God says, “No one”, “can”, He is not saying that He does not allow them to, He is saying, “No one can”, because they are not able to, Paul says they are dead to Him, they are not seeking Him, they are hostile towards Him, they do not and cannot understand a need for Him, they are lost, going their own way following the world, and satan, they are blinded to the truth.
This is the very reason Jesus tells us in John 3:3, “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And again in verse 5, Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Jesus is saying, look, before one can “see the kingdom of God”, or “enter the kingdom of God”, he must be “born again”. And, we know that scripture tells us in John 1:13, how a person is born again, “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
A natural person is born again “by God”, it is God who does this work in His people. He causes them to be born again (1 Peter 1:3), which is what we see happening in Ezekiel 36:25-27, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
It is God who works in His people to draw them to Christ. He does this by removing their hard, God hating hearts and giving them a new soft heart bent on God, desiring God, seeing a need for God which is now able to seek God. He removes the old spirit that is dead, rotten, stinking and gives them a NEW spirit, He puts His Spirit within us, causing us to feel the weight of our sins, our rebellion towards Him. He then grants us the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8, Hebrews 12:2, Romans 12:3), and grants us repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), so that we can now repent and put our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
This is what Christ means when He says, “you must be born again”, because no one can come to Him unless they are, they will not unless God first works in them.
All that God the Father, gives to Jesus will come to Him. Why? Because He is beautiful, He is amazing, He is glorious, and He’s irresistible. We were dead, under the wrath of God, in need of being saved, heading for destruction. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, He is the only way of being saved. The main point is that Christ nor the Father, will lose any of the sheep. Nothing or no one can pluck us from Their hands. And, even if it were possible for us to jump out of Their hands, why would we? What kind of fool would want to leave the loving kindness and mercy of a loving Father? A Father Who protects, Who cares for His children? And it would literally take all eternity to get to the end of His hand to jump out as some say we can do.
Christ gives His people ETERNAL life and they will NEVER perish. (John 10:28)
So, back to Ephesians 2:1-5, Paul is letting the saints know how dead they were, how wicked they were, following the world, self, and satan, and by nature they were children of wrath like the rest of mankind.
Then, Paul does something amazing, he switches gears and says, “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—“.
We were dead, and God made us ALIVE (born again), it was all God! We could do nothing but sin, we had absolutely no hope, we could not seek God, we could not come to God, and we were not able to submit to God, nor understand spiritual things. We were slaves to sin, satan, and this world. BUT God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, made us ALIVE in Christ! It is by grace that His people are saved from sin, satan and death!
“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. (Colossians 2:13)
“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5)
In conclusion, Paul tells us once more, “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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Brethren, there is absolutely no room for boasting! Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14). So, if you must boast, boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31), for He is worthy of all praise and glory.
I promise you there was absolutely nothing good in me or you that would allow us to seek God.
It is all God as He is the Lord of salvation!