Dave was addicted to pornography. He was also a believer in Jesus. He had been born again, yet he struggled with a sin that kept coming up again and again and seemed stronger than he was. If the people around Dave had known about his secret, many would have considered the contradictions in his life too great for him to be considered a Christian. Deep down, Dave often thought the exact same thing. The transformation other believers experienced seemed wonderful and exciting—but way out of his reach. It seemed like it just didn’t apply to him.
Dave felt weighed down, always guilty, always tying every adversity and disappointment in life to God’s judgment, even though he knew plenty of Bible verses about forgiveness and our debt of sin being canceled at the cross of Jesus. He knew he needed help, but for a long time, he was too ashamed to ask for it. But when he saw a notice about a support group for men with his problem at a church in another part of town, he decided to go. There he heard stories from men who had overcome their addiction and were living in freedom. He wanted that. He knew it might be a long road, but for the first time, he felt a glimmer of hope. Over time, hope grew, and Dave felt the joy of new life rising up within him. It was almost like being born again … again. He was experiencing a personal renaissance.
Societies go through renaissance and renewal too. Cultural and intellectual changes in northern Italy in the 1300s, for example, sparked a new interest in old things. Many scholars and artists began exploring the Greek and Roman past and trying to recapture its glories. Latin literature, Roman art and sculpture, classical philosophies and rhetoric, and beliefs about ancient governments stirred up new visions and ideals. The movement spread into many other parts of Europe throughout the next two centuries, and Western culture was transformed, so much so that later historians called it a rebirth—a Renaissance.
The Renaissance was a time of exploring ideas. To many of the scholars, philosophers, artists, and artisans living in that time, everything felt new. A new world was opening up before them—figuratively at first, and then literally after Columbus’s voyages to the Americas—and imaginations soared. But the sense of newness was really a rediscovery of old roots, a return to origins, a search for foundations in history and in the created universe. Many intellectuals sought answers to fundamental questions about God’s design and our purposes and potential as human beings. They wanted to understand the nature of things and how life was meant to be.
When we place our faith in Jesus, we undergo a spiritual rebirth and enter into a new kingdom with a new culture. In our renaissance, everything changes—or at least has the potential to change. We look to the past for the image of God and our original design, things that were lost to us long ago and are now being restored. We reconnect with our created purpose and embrace a very new and more foundational way of life. Once made in the image of God, we are being restored into the character and nature of Jesus, the perfect image of God. Literally and figuratively, we are reborn. And every believer is given the calling and the supernatural power to live out this rebirth as new creations. Renaissance is for everyone.
That’s where Paul begins in his teaching in Ephesians 4—with that balance between new and old. The context of this section of the letter is important. Paul has spent the first three chapters establishing our new identity, emphasizing that we have been chosen, adopted into God’s family, and united with Christ. We were once dead in our trespasses and sins and are now seated with Christ above all other spiritual powers (2:1, 6). It’s the ultimate rags-to-riches story.
As these first three chapters come to a close, Paul prays a profound prayer about being rooted and grounded in the love of Christ (3:16–19)—the foundational position for our entire lives and the basis for any change that will come—and then praises the God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. How does God do that? The answer offers a key to our entire transformation as new creations: “according to his power that is at work within us” (3:20).
That’s a huge statement, and it’s why the change you long for is not a burden to bear. It’s your responsibility, but God provides the power. Your position in Christ, your foundation in the height, width, length, and depth of His love, and the working of His Spirit within you flow from an immeasurable power that results in God’s glory. You may feel trapped in sin, guilt, and shame, but you aren’t. Corporately and individually, you are part of a renaissance of epic proportions.
That’s the truth Paul has just covered as Ephesians 4 opens. We are called to a completely new way of life, but that new way is built on timeless foundations and original design. We are to live in a way that is worthy of the sweeping, sovereign purposes of God’s kingdom we have entered into as believers.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:1–6)
Your calling is to let Jesus live His life in you and through you. He is both the exact image of God and the perfect template of humanity, so when you allow His Spirit to work in your heart, you are being transformed into the new life you have been given, which also aligns with the original image you were created to carry. If you’ve ever wondered what God has called you to do in life, this transformation is where it begins. Before all other callings, this is the renaissance that will shape the rest of your existence throughout eternity.
Ingram, Chip. 2021. Yes! You Really Can Change: What to Do When You’re Spiritually Stuck. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
We have just released a new Bible Study based on Chip Ingram’s amazing book, You Really Can Change. These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
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