“Something’s different about you….or is it?” How often has that comment been made after two friends, coworkers, family members or acquaintances encounter each other after a block of time? Is it a hairstyle change? weight loss? or something more profound like regeneration?
In Ephesians 4, Paul reviews with the Ephesian congregation the impact of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. They had “come to know Christ.” They had “heard of him.” They were “taught in him.” God had changed their lives.
“You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)
They had come to know Christ. That’s what had happened. The Spirit of God had brought them out of darkness into light. He had brought them from death to life. They had encountered the living and risen Christ. Praise God for those who spoke to us of Him, who taught us of Him. I’ve been reflecting on parents, Sunday School teachers, guest speakers, devotional leaders, youth sponsors, friends and family whom God has used in my life. How many times did I hear about Jesus Christ? How many Sunday School lessons were prayerfully prepared and then delivered? How many ‘passing comments’ became God’s instruments in speaking truth into my life? Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that the “power of life and death is in the tongue.”
So what impacted us? What cognitive content did the Spirit of God use to inform our minds, challenge our hearts and confront our wills with Jesus Christ? It is the TRUTH, and particularly the TRUTH that is in JESUS that brought about the change. The person and work of Jesus Christ, properly known as Christology, is a life-changing area of theology. God’s goal for us is not simply information, but transformation. We need information…we need the “old, old story” but the impact comes when we receive the words taught, “not as the words of men, but as they actually are, the words of God.” (I Thess. 2:13)
What 3 main truths were we taught?
#1 Put off the old self – Get rid of the old, sin-tattered garment which we have been wearing from birth, because we were born in sin, demonstrating the long-lasting impact of the choice of our first parents, Adam and Eve. This ‘old self’ is being corrupted. It may appear even ‘religious’ on the outside, but it is rotten at the core, corrupted by its deceitful desires.
#2 Be made new in the attitude of your minds – We don’t need ‘self-improvement,’ a dusting-off of our old selves. There must be something new from the God who “makes all things new,” in His eternal purposeful plan.
#3 Put on the new self – Having received from God a new nature, we are to live accordingly. We now have new choices to make, new ways in which we have never walked, new character qualities to be cultivated which reflect the very attributes of God. Our God is a God of creation – and this ‘new creation’ He is forming in us reflects true righteousness and holiness.
So what changes has God made in your life? When others meet you, do they note, “Something’s different about you…?” Imagine the impact in Ephesus when an entire group of people, the entire congregation of this local fellowship of believers, demonstrated permanent life change as a result of the transforming grace of God.
What was the directive of Jesus to his early followers? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Now that’s transformative change!