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The Spirit of the Sons of Disobedience

Ephesians 2 begins, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of the world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (vv. 1-2).

In the Bible the expression sons of or children of may denote being characterized by something. People are sons of what they imitate. Thus, our behavior might show us to be sons of the devil (John 8:44) or sons of God (Ephesians 5:1); sons of darkness or sons of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Joseph was renamed Barnabas, which means son of encouragement (Acts 4:36).

Twice in the book of Ephesians, Paul mentions the sons of disobedience. He pictures disobedience as a father, a kind of perverse role model. In our text, the Apostle speaks of his spirit working in his children. What is that spirit, that disposition?

It is the spirit of pride. It says my life is my own and no one is going to tell me how to live it.

It is the spirit of ingratitude. It says I feel little obligation to live for God in view of all He gives me.

It is the spirit of self-centeredness. It says focus on me: my perspective, my wants, my problems, how things affect me. Other considerations must take a back seat.

It is the spirit of pleasure. It says that enjoyment and happiness are what life is all about, and I will do whatever I think brings me the most of that.

It is the spirit of popularity. It says I am more concerned about impressing people than pleasing God.

The spirit of disobedience might or might not include all these specifics, and it might or might not actually say these things. In practicality, however, this is how it operates. Surely we all need to purge such thinking!

What about Paul’s other reference in Ephesians to the sons of disobedience? It is a stern reminder to all, Christians included: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (5:6).

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