Your Life Had Never Been Changed

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1 Taking Strides Series Your Life Had Never Been Changed Your story is the story of transformation. You will not always be as you are now; the day is coming when you will be something incomparably better or worse. C.S. Lewis expressed it this way: It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.... There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations these are mortal, and their life is to our as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. [The Weight of Glory, Macmillan, 1980, p. 11] And your choice of what to do with the good news of Jesus will decide the difference between those two immortal identities. FOR DISCUSSION Why is life transformation such a powerful part of the message of good news in Jesus? Encounter read God s Word so that He can speak to you. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

2 Encounter read God s Word so that He can speak to you. Ephesians 4:17-24 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 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. Explore God s Word asking questions of what you saw. The notes which follow may help you to think through these questions 1) Read the introductory quote from C.S. Lewis. If you saw people as not mere mortals, how might your behavior change toward the following people: A close friend A bitter enemy Your spouse A parent A co-worker or schoolmate

3 Explore (cont.) 2) Some people came to faith in Jesus at an early age and believe they don t have a story to tell of life transformation. But as a believer, they have learned a lot about themselves and their flesh nature through their own struggles with sin. And they can see others who are not believers in Jesus who share similar struggles and sin, and observe the character and direction of those lives. If you came to faith in Jesus at an early age, project out what your life might have been like if you had never been changed by Jesus. Then compare with that possible life, the life you do have with Jesus. What changes has He made in your life how are you different from someone without Jesus? Then make this difference part of your story of life transformation 3) If you came to faith in Jesus later in life, what changes has Jesus made to your life? How have those changes happened? What is your story of life transformation? 4) What does 2 Corinthians 5:17 mean? What is our role in that transformation? From Ephesians 4:17-24, what are we supposed to do and how do we do it? 5) Take some time to thank our Father for the specific changes He has already brought in your life. Now bring to Him a request to do His part in changing the things you see don t belong to everlasting splendor and give to Him your surrendered commitment to obey Him in these things.

4 Notes On The Passage (Adapted from Dr. Thomas Constable Bible Study Notes) 2 Corinthians 5: Since his conversion, Paul had stopped making superficial personal judgments based only on external appearances (cf. v. 12). Previously he had looked at people on a strictly physical basis, in terms of their ethnicity rather than their spiritual status which was the merely human perspective. Now, whether a person was a believer or a non-believer, was more important to him than whether he or she was a Jew or a Gentile. Paul had also (as Saul) formerly concluded that Jesus could not be the divine Messiah, in view of His lowly origin, rejection, and humiliating death. "Now" he "recognize[d]" (knew) Him for who He really was, and what He really had done (cf. vv ). Probably Paul was not claiming in this verse to have known Jesus personally during His earthly ministry ("we have known Christ according to the flesh"), though he may have met Him. However, after his conversion on the Damascus Road, Paul saw (recognized or knew) Christ in a new light (i.e., according to the Spirit), from the divine perspective Jesus Christ's death and resurrection (vv ) had had another effect besides altering Paul's viewpoint (v. 16). Whenever a person experiences conversion, as Paul did, he or she really becomes "a new person (creation)." It is not just his or her viewpoint, that should change and can change, but many other things also change. Certain old conditions and relationships no longer exist (Gr. parelthen, aorist tense), and others take their place and continue (Gr. gegonen, perfect tense). Paul was not denying the continuity. We still have the same physical features, basic personality, genetic constitution, parents, susceptibility to temptation (1 Cor. 10:14), sinful environment (Gal. 1:4), etc. These things do not change. He was stressing the elements of discontinuity ("old things passed away"): perspectives, prejudices, misconceptions, enslavements, etc. (cf. Gal. 2:20). God adds many "new things" at conversion, including: new spiritual life, the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, the righteousness of Christ, as well as new viewpoints (v. 16). Ephesians 4: Paul's exhortation that follows repeats Jesus' teaching on the importance of holiness. Christians should not conduct themselves ("walk") "as the Gentiles," who do not know the Lord. Those unbelievers do not typically have a worthy aim or goal in life, the idea behind "the futility of their mind [thinking]." 18 - Here Paul traced the attitude of typical unsaved Gentiles to its source: Lack of worthy purpose rests on unclear "understanding" ("darkened"; cf. Rom. 1:21; 2 Cor. 4:4). This in turn results from separation (exclusion) "from the life that comes from (of) God" (cf. 2:12). Separation arises from natural "ignorance" of God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:14). That in turn rests on insensitivity ("hardness of their heart") to God and His ways (cf. Rom. 1) As a result of this condition, unsaved Gentiles typically "have given themselves over to sensuality," to live lives of sensual self-indulgence ("every kind of impurity"; cf. Rom. 1:24-28). The Greek word aselgeia, translated "sensuality," contains the idea of wanton violence. "Greediness" (pleonexia) refers to an increasing desire for more In contrast to unsaved Gentiles, Christians' minds are no longer dark, they are no longer aliens (excluded) from God, and their hearts are no longer hard and impure. They did not "learn" to follow "Christ" by the natural mental processes that customarily have led to the degradation of unsaved Gentiles. They learned to follow Him as His disciples from the gospel The Ephesian believers had received teaching about Christ, and had learned to live in the sphere of His

5 Notes On The Passage (Adapted from Dr. Thomas Constable Bible Study Notes) will. This is the "truth... in Jesus" that is in view. Whenever Paul used the name of "Jesus" in Ephesians, as here, he drew attention to the death and resurrection of the Savior. He did so here to remind his readers of the essence of the gospel message, as an incentive to live for Christ Here is what the Ephesian Christians had "heard": Christians should put their "former" unsaved "manner of life... aside." The "old self (or man)" is the person the Christian was before his or her regeneration. That person was experiencing progressive (continually worsening) corruption because of desires that appeal to the physical senses. Lusts are deceitful because they promise real joy but fail to deliver it This verse is not primarily a command. The verse is a description of what has already happened in the life of every believer (cf. Col. 3:9-10). However, the verse does make an appeal to the reader. Rather than being futile, darkened, and ignorant (vv ), the Christian has taken on a new attitude ("renewed in the spirit of your mind"; cf. Rom. 6:2-10; 2 Cor. 5:17). This renewing is an ongoing process in the life of the Christian (i.e., progressive sanctification). The verb is passive ("be renewed"), which emphasizes that God is at work in us (cf. Rom. 12:2). 24 This is our responsibility. We are to "put on the new self" like putting on a garment. The "new self" (or man) is the person the Christian is after he or she experiences regeneration. We "put on the new" man as we pursue the things of Christ rather than the desires of the flesh. God has created the new self (the Christian) at regeneration, after the image of ("in the likeness of") our spiritual parent: "God" Himself. "Righteousness" and "holiness" mark our new life, rather than sensuality, impurity, and greed (vv ). Moreover, it is a life based on the "truth" rather than on ignorance (v. 18). Going Further One thing we can do to train ourselves to remember, is to memorize a part of what our Father has said to us. The Holy Spirit can use this to change our thinking so that our heads are more like Jesus. This week, memorize 2 Corinthians 5:17

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