Life-change doesn’t begin with an experience. It may involve an experience, and experiences can open our eyes to needs and possibilities, but transformation is rooted in objective truth. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed that the Father would make His followers pure and holy by the truth—God’s Word (John 17:17). Scripture is at the root of our transformation into Jesus’ likeness.
Jesus told His followers, “If you abide in My word [which means to take it in and act on it], you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32 NKJV). In other words, if we cling to the spiritual DNA God has put within us—that Jesus is the living Word, and His Spirit dwells in our hearts—we can become free of the same old habits we used to struggle with, the same attitudes, lusts, and misplaced values that used to weigh us down, and live and love authentically. This kind of change is possible. Jesus prayed it and gave His word to His followers.
Ephesians 4 is one of those places in God’s Word where liberating truth is spelled out for us. Because of the victory Jesus won at the cross and in His resurrection, because He has given us the spoils of victory, we have the power to live a new life. Anyone can try to do good, adopt a new code of ethics, and become more moral. That’s great, but that doesn’t reflect the depth of victory Jesus has given us. It’s a relationship, and in that fellowship between us and God’s Spirit within us, He is working to give us the desire and power to do what pleases Him (Phil. 2:13). It’s a relationship grounded in truth.
This truth touches every area of our lives. We don’t have to sin, be addicted to any substances or behaviors, live in fear of death or anything else, be anxious about the future, be victimized by circumstances or anyone’s decisions (including our own), or feel defeated by dysfunctional relationships or oppressive problems. Sin, death, and the adversary of our souls are defeated foes. Do we still experience the ravages of sin all around us? Sure. Does it have any control over us? Absolutely not. The only power sin, death, and Satan now have is the power we give them.
We don’t have to be deceived by the world’s system or its values anymore. We don’t have to be sucked into the ads and cravings of a self-centered culture. We have no reason to become depressed when the world’s promises and strategies fail. Jesus disarmed, displayed, and destroyed the works of the great deceiver (Col. 2:13–15). He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). The blinders are off, the light has come on, the deception is exposed. That means we are not bound by any false promises, values, or systems. We are free to change. And genuine change always begins with the truth.
Ingram, Chip. 2021. Yes! You Really Can Change: What to Do When You’re Spiritually Stuck. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
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