One of the most popular cable TV shows of the last several years is called The Walking Dead. It’s the latest story in the beloved sci-fi zombie genre about the undead – those who are dead but still able to walk around wreaking havoc. But the truth is, this isn’t just science fiction, it’s how the Bible describes the reality of the human condition.
Life as the living dead
Ephesians 2:1-3 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
The Bible says that our sin made us dead. It’s not talking about physical death, but spiritual death. While we may be alive physically, the spiritual disease of sin has killed our souls. Sin separates us from God, who is the source of life. Without his Spirit in us, we have no spiritual life.
As “spiritual zombies,” this passage says we’re dominated by dangerous forces including the Devil, the sinful world around us, and our own sinful desires. These spiritual forces lead us to spiral more and more toward pain and death. The ultimate consequence of this sin is the eternal wrath of God in Hell.
God’s rescue plan
The situation we find ourselves in is dire. But there is some amazingly good news in the Bible.
Ephesians 2:4-6 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
Verse four contains two of the greatest words in the Bible: “but God.” God loves us too much to leave us where we are. In order to rescue us from death, he chose to die himself. Jesus, as God in flesh, received the ultimate punishment of death on the cross that we deserve. God then raised Jesus from the dead. His promise to all who trust in Jesus is that his new life will become ours. Just as his death counts for us, his new life counts for us.
It’s natural to think that we would need to earn or become worthy of such a gift, but no matter how hard we tried, we could never be worthy. So God offers this gift to all who would simply believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Our rescue is not a reward for good behavior, it is a gift we receive by faith. Anytime we try to add our own efforts to the rescue, we only mess it up! But then, after we experience this rescue by faith and are made alive with Jesus, that is when real life begins.
Now we can really be alive
Before Christ, we looked like we were alive on the outside, but inside – in our souls – we were dead. But now in Christ we can start to truly live the live God has planned for us.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
God’s desire for us is not mere existence, but a life full of meaning and purpose. He has a journey of “good things” planned for us to do. These are not lists of “do’s” and “don’ts,” but an invitation to live in wholehearted pursuit of him. This pursuit of God starts with trusting Jesus, then living to honor God, and then going full circle to help others pursue God.
Are you a “spiritual zombie” who looks alive but is dead inside? Or are you truly alive? If you realize that you’re a “zombie,” the good news is that God has provided a rescue plan for you to be made truly alive through faith in Jesus.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Do you have a favorite zombie movie/show? Why do you think this genre is so popular and enduring?
- Read Ephesians 2:1. What does it mean that we are “dead” in our sins? Why is this such a dire situation?
- Describe the different spiritual forces referred to in vs. 2-3. How do each of these have a negative effect on our life?
- Have you ever been rescued from something? Share the quick story. How did that rescue make you feel?
- Read Ephesians 2:4 Why do you think God chose to rescue us rather than just letting us experience the consequences we deserve? What drives His love and mercy?
- Why were the cross and the resurrection both necessary for this rescue plan?
- Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Why do you think Paul had to make the point that we can’t take credit for our salvation? What is it about humans that makes us want to, or feel like we have to, earn our salvation?
- Read Ephesians 2:10. Describe what some elements of what new life can and should look like for the Christian. Be specific.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.