According to the age of this world can be translated "according to the fashion of this world." This shows us that man is driven around by the world. Is it not true that we like to follow fashion? Sins differ from age to age. Every generation has its own sins; likewise, every period has its own sins. When we were dead in our offenses and sins, we were fond of fashions.
"The ruler of the authority of the air" is the devil. The earth is for man, and the air is for the devil. The Lord once compared the devil to the birds in the air. "The ruler" is "the spirit which is now operating in the sons of disobedience." "The sons of disobedience" are the people of the world. The Bible mentions the sons of light and the sons of the kingdom of God. The sons are especially qualified by these adjectives. They are "the sons of light" because they do things in the light and "the sons of the kingdom of God" because they are going to inherit the kingdom. Thus, to say "the sons of disobedience" means that the wills of these people are against God.
It is very easy to commit a sin. One does not have to fast for three days and three nights in order to sin. He does not have to try hard or exercise his will. Because there is an evil spirit moving in the heart of man, it becomes very easy to commit a sin.
This verse helps us to realize what we were originally: "according to the age of this world," we loved the world; and "according to the ruler of the authority of the air," we obeyed the devil.
Ephesians 2:3 says, "Among whom we also all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." Verse 1 says, "you," and verse 2 also says, "you." But when we come to verse 3, it says "we." Paul included himself. He did not want to mislead the Ephesians into thinking that only the Gentiles and the Ephesians were portrayed in verses 2 and 3 and that Paul, being an apostle, Jew, and Pharisee, was thus different. Paul wanted others to see that even an apostle and a Jew was by nature the same as the Gentiles, dead in his offenses and sins.
What were we doing among the sons of disobedience? Not only did we love the world and obey the devil, but we also "conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh." Conducted ourselves in the original language implies activity. Originally, man’s moving to and fro from morning until evening was just the activity of the flesh.
Doing in the original means "satisfying." Doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts means satisfying the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts. The desires of the flesh are on the outward things, and the desires of the thoughts are in the mind. When we were doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, we were trying to satisfy ourselves both outwardly and inwardly.
Brothers and sisters! We have to see clearly that our destination was determined: We "were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." According to our nature, we were the same as the rest. Hence, our destination was also the same as the rest—children of wrath, waiting for the judgment and wrath of God! If this is all we have, how miserable we are! But thanks be to God that there are two words after this that turn the tide: "but God."
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 08: The Present Testimony (1), Chapter 37, by Watchman Nee)