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Among whom also we all formerly lived in the desires of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:3)
We all formerly lived in the desires of our flesh. The start of this verse shows what these Ephesian Christians were before they put on the new person (Lit. τὸν the καινὸν new ἄνθρωπον man), as the whole of imperfect mankind is mentally bent toward evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21), possessing a treacherous heart that is unknowable. (Jer. 17:9) Thus, this is the state of the world of mankind alienated from God. This is not to say that they are all depraved and uncivilized, or dragged along by desires of our flesh, as even the unbeliever has ingrained moral values, as Adam and Eve, who possessed perfect moral values, these still carried over partially to the imperfect. Rom. 2:14-15) So, generally speaking, some of these Christians in Ephesus, formerly unbelievers, lived to gratify the flesh or the inclinations of a faulty nature. Even Paul includes himself, as he says, “we all.”
Doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts. If we spoke with the average unbeliever, they would hardly describe themselves as being led around by the desires of the flesh (Gr. σάρξ sarx, seat of sin and rebellion) and of the thoughts (Gr. θέλημα thelēma, an attitude of the mind). However, these ones do not realize that they are an enemy of God in this fallen condition. Like Adam, they have chosen to enjoy their freedom and have not considered how life began or if creation is even a real possibility. As a descendant of Adam, we were all born in sin, missing the mark of perfection. From the moment we are born, we all have an inclination in our flesh (body), mind, and heart, which leads us toward badness. However, the good news is that most imperfect humans are also born with a moral compass, which will warn them when making wrong decisions. Nevertheless, this needs to be cultivated with the Word of God; otherwise, it will grow calloused, unfeeling, and become ineffective. It will then become accustomed to a way of life where the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts are doing the guiding. In time, things that one would have found immoral, wrong, or bad, will start to seem normal because others are doing the same. If the moral compass, the conscience, is trained by the Word of God, we will then have the mind of Christ, and we will do what is right and what is wrong from a biblical viewpoint.
And were by nature. The Greek (φύσις phusis) rendered nature has the sense of attributes and purposes that are contrary to God in this context. It is an unbeliever’s character or makeup as a natural result or condition of inherited sin.
Children of wrath even as the rest. Yes, “you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.” (Col. 1:21) Many in the world have improper desires because of Adamic sin, and they give into these making themselves children of wrath. Those willfully alienated from God are enemies of God, as their desires of the flesh and thoughts have made them subject to eternal destruction. They need to be reconciled with God if they wish to no longer be children of wrath subject to destruction during the approaching “battle on the great day of God the Almighty.” – Revelation 16:14.