Since the Garden of Eden, there has been a problem. Sin separates us from God. And disconnected from our Source, our spirits wither away and die—unless something very powerful happens.
In George Romero’s classic — much imitated and often spoofed — 1968 horror film, Night of the Living Dead, people rise up out of their graves and walk like, well, zombies as they slowly, haltingly stagger around in search of human flesh. By today’s standards, the movie is kind of low-tech and goofy. But the image of those decaying zombies walking through the streets with their arms stretched out in front of them is one that’s hard to shake.
I wonder if Romero ever read this passage from Ephesians about the spiritual nature of human beings without Christ:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:1-2, NASB)
Dead people walking. That’s what Paul said we were. The “prince of the power of the air” is Satan, who rules our planet to the extent that God lets him. The picture here, then, is that people without Christ are the walking dead, ruled by the fallen angel Satan and his demons. What a spooky image! And we’ve all been there:
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (2:3)
Like those zombies, walking mindlessly in search of human flesh, people without Christ are controlled by their “cravings.” Before Christ, we longed for sinful things. We were driven to satisfy our way, to get what we wanted in every area of life.
And like those zombies, we were doomed. By the end of the horror movie that is life on earth without God, we were sure to be tossed into the supernatural fires of hell—not to cease to exist, but for our empty souls to live forever in torment.
But then a hero came to save us. To wake us up. To bring us to spiritual life.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (2:4-7)
God didn’t send this hero after the zombies all got together and decided they’d really rather be alive than dead. There’s was no zombie petition drive to get God to rescue us from continually chasing our sinful desires right into the gates of hell. As zombies, we would never have asked for such a thing. We were dead.
So God sent the hero before we knew we needed one. And this hero was different. He was like us—a human with a soul and emotions and thoughts—but he wasn’t born a zombie. He was spiritually alive, because he didn’t inherit the zombie disease, sin. He never sinned, so he never died spiritually.
That’s why he could pay the price for the sin that all of us zombies—the walking dead—had earned. He became the object of God’s wrath in our place. That’s why the only way to be freed from this zombie existence is to trust in Jesus:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (2:8-9)
We can’t earn our way to being alive. As zombies, there’s no way for us to try really hard to be less evil than the other zombies. “I ate half as much human flesh as all the other zombies; surely God will be impressed and make me alive!”
No matter what you’ve heard from other religions about the supernatural world, it doesn’t work that way. Good workscan’t save us. We have to be made alive by God through trusting in Jesus. He has to do it for us, because we could never do it for ourselves. Zombies just don’t spring to life by themselves.
But the moment a believer trusts in Jesus, everything changes. He or she suddenly becomes alive in Christ. We’re not dead anymore. Our zombie days are behind us. Like Jesus when he was on earth, we’re alive. Alive!
Featuring an excerpt from… [Matlock, Mark (2010-09-21). Don't Buy the Lie (invert). Zondervan.]
There’s so much more good content inside. We’ve only scratched the surface with these five posts.
Purchase the book and read the rest (in digital or hard copy) here.