Read Ephesians 4:20-24
18-20 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. (THE MESSAGE)
When we speak of ‘conversion’ to Christ, we usually think of it as some sort of defined event. A response to an evangelistic message, a sudden realisation of newly discovered truth, a penitent prayer. Then again, some of us can’t place a time or date or place on our coming to Christ. We can’t recall an exact event. This is especially so in those raised in Christian households.
Yet in a way all conversion is gradual. I might come to Jesus at a particular time but in another way I am always coming to him. I may repent of sin and throw myself on Jesus’ mercy at my ‘conversion’, but I need to do this every day of my life. I come to realise Jesus is who he said he was when I become a Christian, but go on deepening my appreciation of him as I live as a Christian.
Our text reminds us that we go on being converted. The grammatical tenses used by Paul here are predominantly present and continuous, describing a process rather than an event. Not at all neat, and occasionally very messy. One of my favourite writers, Craig Barnes, puts it well: “Conversion is the lifelong process of turning away from our plans and turning toward God’s maddening, disruptive, creativity.”