In 1968 Canadian American filmmaker George Romero directed and produced a movie that would forever change the face of horror movies titled “The Night of The Living Dead”. It is an independent black and white horror film that was produced for under $115,000 but has since gone on to gross over $12 million in the U.S. and over $15 million internationally.
The Night of the Living Dead is a story that was inspired by Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel “I Am Legend”. The film is a tale of five individuals who are trapped in a house in rural Pennsylvania and are attacked by a gang of outlandish flesh-eating monsters. These monsters are never given names in the movie itself, but soon thereafter became known in popular culture as zombies or “the living dead.” The zombies portrayed in this movie and subsequent zombie movies to follower are mindless dead creatures who walk around aimlessly seeking to feed their deep cravings and desire for the flesh. I know it sounds kind of gross, but hey, it’s a horror movie.
In modern pop culture zombies are a relatively new concept, but Zombie folklore has been around for centuries. According to History.com the ancient Greeks may have been the first civilization terrorized by a fear of the undead. Archaeologists have unearthed many ancient graves which contained skeletons pinned down by rocks and other heavy objects, assumedly to prevent the dead bodies from reanimating. The Folklore is believed to have originated in the 17th century when West African slaves were brought in to work on Haiti’s sugar cane plantations. According to Haitian voodoo folklore a zombie is a dead person who has been brought back to life and in Voodoo’s case they are brought back to life by a sorcerer or witch doctor.
I might pose that the concept of zombies or the living dead has been around since the beginning of time. From the moment the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, ate the forbidden fruit they became in essence the living dead as they were dead in their trespasses.
Ephesians 2:1 - 10
Today we are going to look a little deeper at the idea the walking dead from a spiritual perspective. We will see that even though zombies may not actually be real, there are certainly people in this world who are in fact the living or walking dead. But fear not, this message will not be about gore, horror or the hopeless apocalyptic horror movie genre instead it is about hope in life through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Vs1: ONCE YOU WERE DEAD… We were all dead at one point in lives, because we are born into sin. Romans 3:23 says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” We are all sinners and the wage, or the penalty of sin is death. If we are all born into sin and the wage of sin is death, then the natural conclusion is that we were or are all dead in our sins. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1 that we are dead in our sins and trespasses. Before anyone comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ, they are essentially the walking dead. They walk aimlessly through life seeking to feed on and devour the flesh of this world.
Vs 2 - 3: Before anyone comes into a relationship with Jesus, they are subject to the world and walk in the ways of the world. They are in bondage to sin, the world system, and are subjects to the devil, the commander of the unseen world. Think about this for a moment… (Think back on your life before you were a follower of Jesus) What was your life like? When I think back on my life, I remember how I lived only for the pleasures of the flesh and sought to fulfill my selfish ways. I paid no mind to God, his people, or his church. I had zero moral boundaries, I had no sense of right or wrong; I did what I felt was right in my own eyes and that which I thought brought me pleasure. I was a spiritual zombie.
We are reminded in these verses that we once ALL lived according to the ways of the flesh, and maybe some of you are still living according to the flesh and dead in your trespasses.
Vs 4 - 7: If our stories ended here, it would be a sad and hopeless story. There would be no purpose. If there is no purpose, then there cannot be hope. However, in verses 4 & 5 we encounter one of many big “Buts” found in the Bible. “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.” This is where everything changes for the believer.
Because of God’s mercy (Mercy is not getting what you deserve) and because of his great love (through Jesus Christ), he gave us life. The dead now become the living. We are made alive through Jesus Christ and God has “Raised up with him AND seated us with him in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ.” As if being raised to life wasn’t enough, God has lifted us up and seated us with Christ. He has placed us in a high place of honor because of Jesus. We do not just become alive; we are now FULLY ALIVE! When we are fully alive in Christ it affects every part of us. This new life changes us and our relationship with God. It changes how we see ourselves (who we are), How others see us (how we live), and how we treat others. We go from being the walking dead to becoming fully alive in Christ!
Did God have to do this? Is He required to give us life? No! He gives us life because he loves us so much and He provides a way to life through Jesus.
Consider this; even when you were dead in your sins, it did not change the fact that God in his abundant mercy gave His life for you. His love for you is never ending. Jesus didn’t die on the cross of Calvary based upon your response to Him. He died so when you who believed in faith you would be made fully alive in him.
Vs. 8 - 10: We have life because of God’s grace (or God’s unmerited favor shown to undeserving humanity). We do not deserve salvation; we deserve hell. We do not deserve life, we deserve death. But through God’s grace we do not receive hell and death, through faith we receive salvation and life. God provided a way. It is THE gift from God.
Your salvation is not based on what you do (works). If you think you are on God’s “nice list” because you attend church regularly, give an offering, and endure through some painfully long sermon then you are mistaken. You receive life based upon what Christ did on the cross of calvary (His grace).
God called you to life because He first loved us, not vice versa. Your response to Him is based upon your conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and this leads to the realization that you and I are sinful, decrepit, and in need of a savior. God calls us to receive His gift of Grace, Jesus Christ.
Salvation is a gift from God by grace through faith (the uncompromised belief that Jesus is Lord of all and by completely trusting in Him in as Lord and Savior). If salvation was based upon your works, you would have room to boast, thus taking away the glory of God and His gift of grace, making you prideful and arrogant. If you could be saved by your works, then the cross of Christ would have been for no reason. Good works are important, as a believer; for the Bible tells us that your good works are the fruit or evidence of your relationship with Jesus. But your works will not save you nor make you righteous before God. Only through faith in Jesus can you be made right with Him.
So, as I conclude today’s message with this question, “Are you fully alive in Christ or are you still dead in your trespasses?” God’s grace, love, and mercy for you is so great that He has given you life instead of death. Through Jesus Christ you now have a new life, one where you are fully alive, thriving and in need of nothing because the Spirit of God dwells in you. The old ways: the sinful, dark ungodly ways are gone, and you no longer live in the murky waters of the world. You now live in the fresh waters of Jesus Christ; victorious over sin, darkness and evil and thriving in the Kingdom of God and sharing the Good News that Jesus has come to give life and His Kingdom has come. If you are a believe the world will try and beat you down but take comfort and security in the knowing that nothing that comes your way can overtake you or hold you down in this life or the life to come because Jesus has defeated death and sin and given you life and victory through him.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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