Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

       Each season has a different representation for me. For example, fall represent the harvest or a time of reaping what has been sown, winter reminds me of a time of rest after the harvest, summer symbolizes a time of purging and testing, and spring represents transformation.

Every spring, I watch a transformation taking place around me. The terrain that once was lifeless becomes alive with new life. This life exhibits regeneration. It is as though there is expectation and a new song in the air as each spring plant unfolds its beauty, the birds are active with excitement about bringing forth new life, and the trees begin to bud.

I was reminded of this transformation when I recently noticed a robin in the back yard. Robins signify that this transformation is not far behind. I am always thankful for this reminder, because winter sometimes proves to be long. Granted, there is a time to rest, but rest is nothing more than a time in which the environment is being prepared for regeneration to take place.

This regeneration expresses itself in transformation. The Bible talks about transformation. When I studied the word, transformation, my dictionary revealed that it is used in relationship to mathematics. Transformation means the operation of changing one configuration or expression into another in accordance with a mathematical rule, such as a change of variable or coordinates in which a function of new variables or coordinates is substituted for each original variable or coordinate. In simple terms, if something is transformed, you actually change the function of something, causing it to appear new, different or complete.

What does transformation mean for the believer? There is only one Scripture about transformation for the believer, but there are a couple of them in relationship to Satan and false ministers. Satan and false ministers have the ability to transform themselves in such a way that people will embrace their wrong spirit, erroneous influences and deceptive reality (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

         The one Scripture that deals with transformation of the believer is found in Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” When I looked up the Greek meaning of this word, words such as change or transfigure were used in association with the word “metamorphose.” Metamorphose means to change into a different physical form especially by supernatural means or to change the appearance or character of something. An example of this in nature is the butterfly.

Now that a foundation has been laid concerning the word “transformation,” let us bring it down to practical terms. As Christians, we represent new creations. We have been delivered from the power of darkness and have been translated into the kingdom of Jesus Christ(Colossians 1:13). This translation points to the fact that we have been taken from a fleshly state where sin and death reigns, and transferred into a new spiritual state of existence.

Being new creations means we have been born again or given a new disposition (new heart and spirit), due to the fact we have been imparted with a new life, the life of Jesus. The new life represents regeneration. Titus 3:5 gives us this insight into regeneration: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Regeneration is a matter of cleansing or washing. There are two sources of cleansing: the blood of Jesus, which brings us into an everlasting covenant with God on the basis of redemption, and the Word of God (Hebrews 10:1-20; 1 John 2:7). The Apostle Paul talked about the cleansing power of the Word in Ephesians 5:26. The Apostle Peter made this statement about the Word of God: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abided forever (1 Peter 1:23).

        The Holy Spirit is who brings this life forth. As the life of Jesus is realized more and more, the inner man becomes renewed. In other words, everything becomes new or fresh. As the Apostle Paul stated, all things become new in Christ as the old things pass away. It is in the renewing of the inner man that transformation takes place.

Although there may be some evidence of changes up front once a person has been born again, transformation of the inner man is a process. The Apostle Paul brings this process out in Romans 12:1. To ensure this transformation takes place, one must first of all present his or her body as a living sacrifice. This sacrifice must be holy or wholly set apart for the glory of God before it can be accepted by God. Such a sacrifice is our reasonable service.

The next part of the process has to do with our attitude towards the world. Before a person receives Christ as Lord and Savior, he or she is being conformed to the world’s way of thinking, doing and being. “Conform” means to give the same shape, bring into harmony, be similar or identical, obedient or compliant in adapting oneself to prevailing standards or customs. The Apostle Paul is instructing us that before the inner man can be transformed, we must cease from conforming to the world. This means we must cease from letting the world shape our thinking. We must stop from coming into agreement with its ways. We must rid ourselves of that which identifies us to it, and we must cease from being compliant to the world’s philosophies, practices and pursuits. Keep in mind, we determine what will influence us, what will hold the affection of our hearts, and what will affect our attitudes about God and life.

It is important for me to point out that few Christians experience transformation because they will not cease from being conformed to the world. In fact, many Christians become angry, disillusioned and depressed in their Christian lives because they will not cease from conforming to the world. They try to rehabilitate the part the world affects in each of us—that of the old man with his fleshly desires, by clothing him in religious garb and practices. They try to take the practices of the world and tack religious things to them to make them holy. They dress up worldly, lustful and self-serving fantasies with dreams of doing great exploits for God in the name of Christ to make such fantasies acceptable to their religious conscience and fleshly pursuits. These people do not realize that such an unholy mixture makes them double-minded in all of their ways. In the end, it will cause them to walk in a state of misery as it renders their faith into a state of weakness. Their testimony becomes hypocritical in their own ears, mocks their intellect, and is void of the power to penetrate the hearts of others.

The Apostle Paul is clear, we must not be conformed to this world, and we must be transformed by the renewing of the mind. The Holy Spirit is the one who transforms or renews the mind. However, we must allow it to happen. In other words, an exchange must take place. We must deny the old man it’s right to exist (Matthew 16:24). We must become crucified to the influence of the world to give way to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 6:14). If we are in a battle between the world’s influence and the Spirit’s work, nothing will be transformed. We must surrender all, and give way to the transforming work of the Spirit. The fastest way we can do this is by honestly considering the end results of worldly associations and pursuits. The Apostle Paul put it in perspective by counting all such associations as dung in order to gain Christ (Philippians 3:8). The Lord gave this challenge in Matthew 16:26: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Clearly, we cannot gain the world unless we are willing to lose our soul. And, we cannot possess our soul, unless we are willing to be crucified to the world (Luke 21:19).

What will the work of transformation change in our lives? The answer is simple. It will change the type of glory we will manifest in our lives. John 1:14 tells us that the Word (Jesus) was made flesh, and that His glory was beheld by those who were with Him. John was making reference to the incident that took place on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9).Jesus’ flesh was parted, and John, James and Peter beheld His glory. Glory points to majesty or beauty that makes someone or something distinct.

Man has his own glory, but it is vainglory (Philippians 2:3). In other words, it is surface, fading and useless. Man was formed to reflect the glory of His Creator. The Apostle Paul relates to the fact that the glory that every believer should be manifesting to the world is the glory of his or her Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

By establishing the life of Christ in us, it will be His glory that will be expressed through our disposition. But, how is the reflection of the Lord established? By transforming the mind.Philippians 2:5 tells us to let the mind of Christ be in us. Let means we give way to the work of the Spirit who establishes the mind or attitude of Christ in us. Attitude influences our disposition or inward state, and ultimately determines our approach to God and life. The Word of God clearly shows us the attitude of Christ in Matthew 11:28-29.

        Jesus’ main focus was that of submission to the will of the Father. By having our attitude transformed by His attitude, we will be able to prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God as instructed by Romans 12:2.

Once we have the mind of Christ, we will then be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29). Such conformity speaks of harmony in Spirit, identification to Jesus, obedience to His Word, and distinction in our lifestyle.

As we approach this season of life, we can rejoice over the transformation that takes place around us, but can we lay claim to such transformation in our own lives? It is not enough to be like Christ in outward, religious appearance. Simply imitating Christ will fail to serve as a fair representation of Him to others. We must have the very disposition of Christ to ensure His life is being manifested to those around us. After all, it is His life in us that brings authority, distinction and power to our lives and testimonies.