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. (Eph 2:1-3)
There seems to be such a marked contrast between this and what has gone before it. One moment Paul is soaring high on thoughts of God's plan and intentions for His creation and the next he is focused on disobedience and sin. How did this come about? This is one of those times when Robert Estienne has positioned the chapter break perfectly. It is time for a new chapter. The plan is for all things to be submitted to Christ and to come under His headship, but the plan and the reality are not harmonized. Note Paul's use of the past tense: ONCE you were dead . . . You used to live in sin . . . All of us used to live that way . . . we were subject to God's anger. God's plan is for all things to be under Christ's headship but that is not the state of play at the moment. Paul's inference here is the large percentage of His creation is not subject. The devil has currently (momentarily) sabotaged the plan. Now his spirit is at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. The plan is for all of creation to be under His (Christ's) headship, submitted to Him, obeying Him. But most refuse to obey and follow the desires and inclinations of the sinful nature. They are in disobedience to their Creator and are following the devil and the powers of the unseen world. Note Paul's use of: "just the like the rest of the world", "just like everyone else".
Paul is still being Paul. He hasn't totally switched to a new topic. He is still discussing the big picture of God's will and where things are at in reality – most are at enmity with His will and subject to His anger. You were once like that! You Gentiles, you who lived in Ephesus in the 1st Century, you who live in Indonesia in the 21st Century, you New Zealanders who live on the edge of the earth, you who live anywhere else. Once you were dead (to God) and refused to obey and submit to His good plan for you. But that situation has changed. The Ephesian church had made the decision to follow Christ and by doing so were in the process of coming under His headship. So they were no longer controlled by the devil or by their sinful desires any longer. We will see how that works out in reality as the Paul's letter progresses.
This is all set in sharp contrast to the grandeur of the plan as Paul has laid it out in his euphoria. On the one hand is God's grand scheme, on the other is man's willful disobedience to that plan and a desire to have his own way. This of course sets him on a course which is in stark contrast with God's plan. Just like everyone else. Have you ever argued "well everyone else is doing it"? Not wise. Just because "everyone" is doing it does not make it right. There are many times when we seem to take the idea of democratic process to foolish levels. We think "If most agree, if most practice what I am doing then it must be right, or at least alright." As if when the vote is taken and most agree then majority rules. No no no. That is not reality. Reality is seen in glimpses behind the human realm into the spiritual realm. All you see is not what you get. The observable world is not the only thing to take note of. We live as though it is. If is measurable, observable, testable then it is true. No there is more than that to life. There is another dimension; the spiritual dimension. Learn to get things in the right perspective. In the book of Ephesians Paul takes the wraps off the unseen world and gives us glimpses of what is going on behind the scenes.
WYSIWYG - What you see is not all of what you get. There's more. We westerners are so prone to thinking that empirical science has the final word. No, that is not true. Imagine for a moment each time we meet for church what is happening. We think we have it all sussed. We can see exactly what is going on in the room. No, untrue. There are things going on in room that you cannot see. There are radio waves, television waves in the room that you can't pick up because you are not a TV set or a radio. Gehazi learned that lesson in 2 King 6. He was not seeing the full reality and Elisha had to ask the Lord to open his eyes to see reality before he could see the angels all around. You are not seeing the full picture. Your set is not tuned in to everything going on. There's more to it than you think. This will unfold as we move through Ephesians. It is truly a big picture book. Just thought I would set the scene before we go further.
We bear within us the seeds of our own disintegration. The strength of our flesh is an ever present danger to our souls. A W Tozer
Just because someone has a microphone doesn't automatically mean they have something to say. Louie Giglio
Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God.