Stephen grew up in a rough part of East London and fell into crime by the age of ten. He said, “If everyone’s selling drugs and doing robberies and fraud, then you’re going to get involved. It’s just a way of life.” But when he was twenty, he had a dream that changed him: “I heard God saying, Stephen, you’re going to prison for murder.” This vivid dream served as a warning, and he turned to God and received Jesus as his Savior—and the Holy Spirit transformed his life.
Stephen set up an organization that teaches inner-city kids discipline, morality, and respect through sports. He credits God with the success he has seen as he prays with and trains the kids. “Rebuilding misguided dreams,” he says.
In pursuing God and leaving behind our past, we—like Stephen—follow Paul’s charge to the Ephesians to embrace a new way of life. Although our old self is “corrupted by its deceitful desires,” we can daily seek to “put on the new self” that’s created to be like God (Ephesians 4:22, 24). All believers embrace this continual process as we ask God through His Holy Spirit to make us more like Him.
Stephen said, “Faith was a crucial foundation for me changing my life around.” How has this been true for you?
When you look back over your life, what comes to mind as key moments that prompted change? What long-lasting change resulted?
In view of what Jesus has done to save us (Ephesians 1–3), Paul urges the Ephesian believers to “live a life worthy of the calling [they] have received” (4:1). Paul insisted that they “must no longer live as the Gentiles do” (v. 17), living a life of sensuality and moral impurity (v. 19). Writing metaphorically, Paul speaks of the sinful nature as something old that must be replaced by the new (vv. 22–24). Paul reminds us that “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 nlt). In Colossians 3, Paul instructs us to “put to death . . . whatever belongs to [our] earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed . . . . [And] clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (vv. 5, 12). One Bible teacher says we’re to put off our grave clothes and put on grace clothes.