Once a woman named Celeste Horvath was New York’s most notorious madam, running a prostitution ring that catered to some of the nation’s most famous men. Celeste had grown up in a Pentecostal home, and her praying grandmother had prophesied over her, “You’re going to be an evangelist.”
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12, NKJV).
Jesus was and still is the light of the world. John says this light was produced by the life that was in Christ: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Simply put, the life that Christ possessed was his source of light to the world, and all who believe “shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). What is the “life behind the light” that scripture speaks of?
Sadly, much of Christ’s body today resembles a modern-day Valley of Dry Bones (see Ezekiel 37:1-14). It is a wilderness filled with the bleached skeletons of fallen Christians. Ministers and other devoted believers have flamed out because of a besetting sin. Now they are filled with shame, hiding out in caves of their own making. Like Jeremiah, they have convinced themselves, “I will not make mention of [the Lord], nor speak anymore in His name” (Jeremiah 20:9, NKJV).
Putting on our new self is really important for Christians. It will affect the way we live our lives. It will affect the way that we receive the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. It has an impact on every aspect of our lives. Putting on the new self is the way to live out that new life that God gives us.
This is critical because it shows that a real meeting with God has taken place and the transformation of our hearts has begun.
Distance, struggles, pain and Satan’s lies can cause us to question God, our faith, and our impact for the kingdom of heaven.
As a trainer and facilitator of poverty solution teams in Southeast Asia, I sometimes ask myself, “Are we impacting and transforming lives? Is the kingdom of God actually working through us to push back the darkness and bring forth hope, abundant life and reconciliation?”
The answers to these questions are in the signs of new life.
There is an important lesson to take note of in the story of Noah. The tigers went into the ark and didn’t come back out plant eaters. Their nature did not change by being in the ark. The animals were saved from the flood. That is their lives were preserved for a time, but their natures did not change. They were not transformed. The tiger did not repent of eating other animals; he stayed the way he was.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
“Early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them” (John 8:2, NLT).
Jesus’ reputation had spread far and wide because he spoke profound words and performed powerful works of God. Yet, no sooner had this crowd of commoners gathered than the religious leaders showed up.
When Priya* and her husband accepted Christ, their neighbors weren’t excited. Vicious gossip began circulating, and the pressure to convert back to Hinduism became intense.
“At times,” she confessed, “I wanted to give up and become Hindu again.”
World Challenge partners came to Priya’s church and talked about living as a light for God in the neighborhood.