“ … in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world, and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is still at work in those who are disobedient.”
We used to live in “sins and transgressions” until Christ set us free. We all have a history “Before Christ”, and when we are tempted to judge others from a position of self-righteousness, it is good to remember that we, too, once lived in sin.
Sin is so all-encompassing that it is no exaggeration to say that we once lived in it. Sin is like the air around us. It is always there even if we are not aware of it.
Sin is living for ourselves without reference to God's will. In parts of the Bible it is described as lawlessness, rebellion, and witchcraft. When we live for ourselves without reference to the Lord, we are truly living in sin.
We used to follow the ways of the world before Christ came in.
Those who live in the world have their ways, just as christians have their ways. Whereas christians leave to serve Christ, the people of the world live to serve themselves. Vices are renamed virtues. Sins are redefined to make them more palatable.
The word “world” is not the physical planet on which we live, but the masses of humanity who go their own way, ignorant or rebellious against God.
God loves the world so much that He sent his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God loves the world, but the world does not love God. The world sets up its systems which deliberately exclude God.
The people who follow the ways of the world live for themselves. They work for money that does not last; their priorities can be summed up in the proverb, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” Their attitude is to live life to the fullest because they see no prospect for eternity.
The people of the world think that they are being wise in their own ways, walking in their own freedom. Yet they are directed by the” ruler of the kingdom of the air.” The kingdom of the air is satan's realm. It is the second heaven according to some people, the first being the celestial realm of the sun, moon and stars.
When people live for themselves, they are living for Satan. Despite their claims to be free, they are in the deepest of bondage. Having abandoned any sense of duty to their Creator, they have fallen into captivity to the devil.
That is why the world always sets itself in opposition to Christians. This is why so many Christians around the world face severe persecution. This is why society loves all manner of perversion and decadence, and they hate the church.
Those who walk in the ways of the world are really being directed by satan who is the ruler of the kingdom of the air. We cannot ever expect anything different. Sinful people, unredeemed people, sin because they are separated from God and in fellowship with Satan.
Many Christians are unaware of the spiritual war that they are fighting. This will be discussed in Ephesians 6 where the nature of the war is elaborated. For now we must recognise that the war is being waged, and humans are the prize on both sides.
There is no neutrality in this war. Satan will destroy everyone regardless of whether they are fighting for him or ignorant of him. He leaves alone those who are already on the path to hell. He takes great delight in causing suffering and distress to those whom he considers his enemies.
Those who are disobedient to God are those who allow the spirits of evil to work in their lives. The more determined people are to oppose God, the more they have allowed the spirits to work in them and through them.
People indulge in all kinds of evil acts including violence, sexual perversion, lust, theft, fraud, blasphemy and so on. They argue that anything is justified as long as nobody gets hurt. They overlook the fact that any act of disobedience causes hurt to someone even if it is only the disobedient person.
Human beings were created in the image of God. We are created for his purposes and any disobedience to God is a denial of our reason for being. We mar that image that is in our hearts whenever we indulge our selfish desires.
Acts of disobedience amongst christians are acts of surrender to the evil one. We deny our Creator and Redeemer. We turn away from the path of separation to God and back to the ways of the world which lead to bondage and captivity.
Key points in this verse:
We were once Sinners but have been set free by Christ.
Sin is following the ways of the world
Whether by intent or in ignorance, the world sets itself in opposition to God
God loves the world but the world does not love God
Those who live in the world are really in bondage to satan who is the ruler of the kingdom of the air
We are in spiritual war and need to be aware of this
Following the ways of the world leads to disobedience
We are created for God's purposes and must obey him