Ephes. 2:1-7 (ESV)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked. Dead. Dead. Ever seen a dead person do anything outside the B rated zombie movie? I have. I have seen dead people. I see dead people. I have seen dead people put money in the salvation army kettle. I have seen dead people help old ladies cross the street. I have seen dead people take my order at McDonalds. I have seen dead people do a lot of things. People spiritually dead anyway.
Once you lay them down for the dirt nap, though, they don’t do much. They can’t do much it seems. They don’t accept invitations to weddings. They don’t pray. They don’t go to church. They don’t even want to do anything. They don’t come back to life on their own. Sometimes they do come back to life when an outside force works on them. A man drowns at the beach. He doesn’t ask to be resuscitated. The life guard swims out, pulls him back on shore and administers CPR. The man comes back to life. He is given life. As long as he lives he lives because of what the Life guard has done. He lives by the blessing of a gift. He can go home and read the wedding invitation that showed up in the mail. Or he could pull out a revolver and choose to finish what he started at the beach. He cannot choose to live. We don’t choose to life. He can though choose to off himself. As long as he lives it is something he never asked for, his parents gave him life. The life guard gave it back to him.
Paul says we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We were dead. To be counted with the goats on the last day. Everyone will have a pulse on Judgement day. We will all be resurrected. We won’t all be living though. The creed refers to spiritual life and death. We were dead. We were helpless in our death. Given over to our sins and passions. Not sinning was something beyond us. We were born dead. Even the “good works” dead people do are sinful, that is full of sin. Outside of Christ there are no good works. If we are not alive in Christ we are helpless to do good works. “But God , being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved.
God has made us alive. He has given us faith. That is the way it works. As long as we live, we live by virtue of his grace. We didn’t choose him, he chose us. We were helpless to make ourselves alive, but he gave us life, in His Son Jesus Christ.