Ephesians 2:2b-3a — The Spirit of Disobedience

I have the privilege and responsibility of teaching a small Bible study every Friday at a local high school.  This is the fourth post in the series.  If you do happen to read, please pray that the Lord would bring unsaved sinners to our Bible studies, and that He would be pleased to save them. %%

Ephesians 2 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

0. Introduction

Remember, this is our theme for the semester: We are more sinful than we could ever fathom.  And yet, we are more loved than we could ever imagine.  We learned in Ephesians chapter 2, verse one, that we were dead & hopeless to save ourselves because of sin.  In the first parts of verse two, we saw that we walked/lived according to the evil world system and Satan.

This time, we're going to learn a little bit more about Satan.  There are five basic questions and five basic answers:

  1. What is the spirit?  Satan, the enemy of God.
  2. What does God think of Satan?  He will crush Him.
  3. How does Satan work? By inciting disobedience.
  4. What do the lusts of disobedience look like?  Rebellion against God
  5. What does disobedience deserve?  The wrath of God.

I. What is the spirit?  Satan, the enemy of God

Let's look at our text: "of the spirit."  What is this spirit?  As we saw last time, it is Satan.  Now, what kind of spirit is this?  We briefly touched on this in the first part of verse 2, but let's dig a bit deeper.

The Bible uses many names for Satan.  Just from his names, we can develop a comprehensive understanding of his character.  He is called:

  • Satan (literally "adversary" in Hebrew)
  • The devil (literally "slanderer" or "accuser" in Greek)
  • The evil one (various passages)
  • The one who sinned from the beginning (1 John 3:8)
  • The accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10)
  • The great dragon and serpent of old (Revelation 12:9)
  • The deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12:9)
  • The father of lies and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44)

The conclusion is this: Satan is pure evil.  He opposes God.  From the very beginning, he was a sinner and a murderer.  He hates believers, and wants to destroy them.  He lies, is the father of lies, and wants others to believe his lies.  He is opposed to everything God desires.  We could of course look at all these verses, but one will suffice:

John 8:44 …[the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

"From the beginning" means from the beginning of creation.  He is the one who told the first lie to mankind!

Genesis 3:1-4 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!

He directly contradicted God!  God had said, "You will die if you sin!"  Satan said, "You surely will not die!"    He incited Adam and Eve to Fall; in one sense, all of the world's sin was his doing.

II. What does God think of Satan?  God will crush him.

But, what does God think of all this?  Romans 16:20 says, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."  We are not dualists.  Dualism is the belief that good and evil, God and Satan, are equal entities in an eternal power struggle, with one neither winning or losing.  That is not the biblical teaching.  Satan is not equal to God.  God rules over Satan.  And, God will crush him for his iniquity and evil.  In fact, God has promised this from the very beginning, and as his Superior, will judge him.

Genesis 3:14-15 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Again, Satan is not God's equal; equals cannot be each other's judge.  Rather, God has him on a leash (c.f. Job 1:6-12, Job 2:1-7), and while God has granted him temporary, limited reign over the earth, believe me, God will put an end to his tyranny one day — and soon.  God alone is King and Creator.  He will judge Satan, and He will do it completely. We can see that clearly in Revelation 20.

Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. …When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.  And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

So then, from literally the beginning of history to the end, God is Almighty, and Satan is a subordinate creature.  God is Supreme; God is Ultimate; God alone is God.

III. How does Satan Work?  By inciting disobedience.

Let's look at our text again: "of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience."  How does Satan work?

The primary thing that Satan does is blind.  2 Corinthians 4:4 says, "…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

Then, Satan incites/tempts the blind to do evil, to sin, and to disobey.  I want us to briefly see three examples of this:

1. Judas Iscariot

John 13:25-27 He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.  After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

2. Ananias

Acts 5:1-3 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.  But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?

3. Us

Look at Ephesians 2:3 — "Among them, we too".  Who are the sons of disobedience?  We were the sons of disobedience.

IV. What do the lusts of disobedience look like?  Rebellion against God.

"Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind."  Now, we could go into great detail about sinfulness of sin, the slavery of sin, the flesh, etc., but for now, I just want us to get a cursory glance at what it means to "live in the lusts of our flesh" means.  Romans 8 and 1 John 2 will suffice:

Romans 8:5-8 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

Those who are in the flesh reap death.  They hate God, and can't obey Him, and they cannot please Him.  Those who obey the lusts of the flesh are not of God; they are of the world (world system).

Now that we see what 'living in the flesh' means, let me give you two lists of what the lusts and desires of the flesh are from Galatians 5 and Romans 1.

Galatian 5:19-21 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 1:28-32 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

V. Conclusion

So then, when all is said and done, even though Satan is the spirit of disobedience, we, as those who live according to the flesh, live in the spirit of disobedience. It is not just that we sin sometimes; we are immersed in it.  We exude sin, drink it in, swim in it, and ultimate die because of it.

For what does this disobedience deserve?  The holy, righteous, angry wrath of God.

Yet, what does God offer through the gospel?  Unfailing mercy and grace.  We sinned against Him; He gives us Christ.  We hate Him.  He loves us with an incomprehensible love.  We are more sinful than we could ever fathom.  Yet we are more loved than we could ever imagine.

Next lesson: Ephesians 2:3b — The Wrath of God

Ephesians 2:3b The Wrath of God

Ephesians 2:2a — Walking in the Ways of the Dead