Ephesians 5: 3-4; 8-11
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving….
…..For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
It’s really important to remember as we work our way verse by verse through the six chapters of Ephesians that this was originally one unified letter, written by Paul, to explain the radical transformation that happens when we become sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The first three chapters explained in detail the spiritual change which happens inside each person as they enter this new life, the new identity they receive, the empowering with which they are endued, the relationship with God and other people which has now been made available.
Becoming a Christian, saying ‘yes’ to Jesus, starting a relationship with God – whatever you want to call it – can happen in an instant. You perhaps raise your hand during an altar call at the end of a Sunday church service, you walk to the front of an evangelistic crusade, you pray a prayer asking Jesus to come into your life – and now you’re a Christian. It’s all happened so quickly that it’s easy to underestimate the huge, incredible, inner spiritual shift which has just taken place.
As a teenager I distinctly remember telling my parents that I had become a Christian. At that point they had watched me go through various phases. There was the BMX bike phase, the skateboard phase, the martial arts phase. They told me later that they assumed that this ‘God thing’ would just be another phase, it would soon pass and be replaced with my next temporary obsession. 27 years later I’m still in my ‘God phase’!
You see, when you gave your ‘yes’ to Jesus, you didn’t just join a club or take up a new hobby. You didn’t become part of a religion or join a church. Spiritually, in that moment, you became a brand new person. It’s so radical that Jesus described it as being born again, born of the Spirit. Paul said elsewhere in 2 Corinthians that when you become a Christian you are a new creation. God doesn’t just give you a clean-up or a make-over. Although you may not immediately see it visibly with your eyes, spiritually everything has irreversibly changed. You have taken on a new nature, Christ lives in you and you are in Christ.
This transformation will spill over into every aspect of your life. It impacts all that you are and all that you do. Your thinking starts to change, your desires are reoriented, you begin to view the world and other people in a different way, you develop new passions, you don’t find the same pleasure in some of the things you used to love.
Back in Ephesians 2, Paul described it like this:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live….But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ…” (Eph 2: 1-5)
Prior to encountering Jesus you were spiritually dead. The inner part of you which was designed to connect and commune with your Creator was completely lifeless because of the power of sin. However, when you trusted in Jesus, your sin was taken away, you received Christ's righteousness and the Holy Spirit took up residence inside you. In that moment, your spirit was brought back to life. You now are spiritually alive.
You have a completely new nature which, we will see this week, will bring with it a new lifestyle and a new way of relating to the world around you.
However, for now, as you consider all that Jesus has done in you and for you, start to think about those in your world who have yet to experience this wonderful, radical transformation. Pray that you would have an opportunity to share the hope you have found in Jesus with them. A great way to do this would be to intentionally take a few minutes this week and invite them along to one of our Easter Sunday celebrations on Sunday 16th April.