This verse is shockingly physical. Walked means walked, and living means living. You can read it this way:
In these sins and idolatries you too once formed all your decisions, made all your appointments, and took all your steps, when they were what gave you the strength, the breath, the will to go on.
In these sins you planned your days — when they were the only thing that made you truly feel alive.
Three things to uncover here for those who believe:
There’s no shame for us in a past. This verse acknowledges it as a given: we all once walked here, we have all been called out of darkness. No matter what form our sins and idolatries took — self-righteousness or unrighteousness — we all once worshipped ourselves instead of our God.
There’s no perfection for us in the present. Paul writes to the Church here, telling those who already believe to put away the greed, the immorality, the priorities and passions and solutions of this world. Temptations and wrong choices will not cease for us — they will always be something we must consciously put away. But we no longer walk in sin, get through our day for sin, plan for sin. We no longer pencil our false gods and feeble hopes in on the calendar.
There’s no life for us now in sin. Our very breath and energy now come from the Spirit of Christ in us. Returning to sin to feel hope and joy only suffocates our true source of power and starves our souls of the Jesus we need.
The sin that used to taste like life now coats our mouths with death. We might have once walked comfortably in our old ways, but now we can only crawl — weak and exhausted in our own strength — trying to suck oxygen from the smoke and haze of false promises.
If we choose sin to find joy and end up in despair of ourselves, it is hope in disguise. It is evidence for the Spirit in us — for a soul that has known the breath of heaven and is gasping for the better air of confession and love and grace.