BE TRANSFORMED. In a moment – or over a lifetime?
The Scriptures tell us we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Are we being transformed? Are you partially transformed or totally new?
You’ve no doubt heard stories of people who, upon coming to accept Christ as their Savior, were immediately transformed. The acidic … became a genuinely gentle soul, a gracious speaker – instantly. Yes, I believe that can happen, like instant total healings do happen. You may even actually know people yourself who have experienced this instant transformation.
Isaiah seems to have been such a person. He says he was a man with a dirty mouth (unclean lips) and yet in his one-on-one meeting with God, an angel touched his lips and he was cleansed (Isaiah 6:1-9). Isaiah ended up writing one of the most beautiful books in the Hebrew scriptures.
Some people, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, change dramatically – almost instantly. Peter, who had denied His Messiah three times just weeks earlier, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, preaches a most inspired testimony to His Messiah in Acts 2. He accepted beatings and threats and came close to being beheaded – but was so at peace that he was actually asleep when the saving angel appeared to deliver him (see Acts 12).
Frankly, many of us when seeing or hearing of these quick transformations – and then looking at ourselves – can get discouraged. We know certain sins, habits and ways we had in the past are now gone – but there’s still a lot left of our old nature we don’t want any longer. We’ve overcome some things, but not everything - - yet. And when we see the old nature rising up in us, we can get very discouraged indeed.
Or is that just me?
For most of us, transformation is not something that happens all at once, in an instant.
I have a little partially completed tiny statue on my desk that I look at once in a while. The inscription says, “Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet.” And that’s the point of this blog: Yes, we are being transformed over time – “until Christ is formed” in us (Galatians 4:19). Paul seems to be making it clear that we should expect this transformation of what we are, to take some time, at least for most of us. Maybe it’s a little bit like a caterpillar being transformed, over time, into a butterfly. It doesn’t happen in an instant.
Be sure to click on “Continue reading” to the bottom right here to read the rest of the encouragement from scripture that Yeshua takes his job of preparing the Bride very seriously.
Why does it take time? Because our Father has decreed that as long as we are flesh and blood, our old nature still remains in us and with us even though He has also given us His Holy Spirit. So there’s a struggle going on between the two natures inside us. This is why we still see men and women of God still sinning from time to time: because they still have the old nature inside them. Sometimes the old nature wins out in our actions.
As a result of that struggle, we’re reminded that obedience requires a choice to actually follow the leading of the Spirit (Romans 8:14). It requires that we flee temptation and don’t leave a forwarding address! Resist the devil (1 Pet 5:8-9; James 4:7-8), so he will flee from us. Yes, I preach to myself on all of this. It requires that we bring every thought into captivity of Jesus Christ (2 Cor.10:3-6). It also requires that we repent daily of the ways and times we did not follow God’s leading, or subdue wrong thinking or times we did not resist the devil enough.
Over time, as we follow God’s spirit, we are being transformed. We’re also being transformed by the washing of the word of God (Ephesians 5:26). That means we need to be studying deeply into His word each day. Studying is not the same as just reading booklets and articles. We should get directly into the Bible itself, by yourself. I like to even bow in worship and ask my Abba (dear Father) to guide me and open my eyes to see his truths before I even begin my daily studies into His words and thoughts.
In the end, remember that the Creator of all things is YHVH, the eternal God. That is why David pleaded that God would “create in me a clean heart” (Psalm 51:10). You don’t create your own new clean heart. It’s a gift from God.
You don’t create your own new self. You are a “NEW creation” and the Creator of the NEW creation is still the CREATOR Himself. Giving us a new heart and a new spirit is the Creator’s work. Ask for it. Then receive it in faith – even before you see it fully working in your life. Remember faith is the “evidence of things not seen” – yet! (Heb. 11:1-2). Look at this verse below – and who it is who gives us the new heart and new spirit. It’s a GIFT. Ask for it and receive it. Look who is the one making us new!
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”
Other verses make it clear we have to actively receive what we’re given. We have to follow the lead we’re being shown. We have to “put on Christ” and “make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14; Eph 4:23-24). HE is working in us. ALL things are of God (2 Cor. 5:17-18), but WE have to crack open his book, we have to pray, we have resist sin, we have ask for help, we have to call out to him in times of weakness. And he will save you.
We are told to work out our own salvation with such profound awe and reverence (“fear and trembling”) “FOR (or because) it is GOD who WORKS IN YOU, BOTH to will and to do according to His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). God is the one working in us. He gives us the will – the desire – and the ability to do His way of life. We just read it. We have to show up though. We do that by seeking Him with all our might, by daily searching for him, praying to him, studying his instructions in his word – and being washed thereby, and renewed thereby.
I’ve come to believe the key is to focus on HIM, not on yourself. As Yeshua (Jesus) said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Focus on your Savior, not on your sins. “Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” – Hebrews 12:2. WHO started your faith? Who will finish the job? Read it again. Focus on your redemption, not on your failures. We repent of our sins and failures, but our FOCUS must be on our Yeshua, our Savior, upon repentance. Focus on His perfection, HIS righteousness – not on your failures.
When I focus on myself, I get discouraged. Don’t you? But when I do what Hebrews 12:2 says, and focus on Him -- I am hopeful. When I focus on abiding in Him, the true Vine of life, I know – because He promised it – that I will bear much fruit in due season (John 15:4-5). So will you. I’m always impressed how the Apostle Paul just keeps focusing back to Yeshua in verse after verse after verse in his epistles.
We tend to be drawn to what we focus on. Ponder that. I really believe that. If you want transformation, focus on the perfect example of who and what we all wish to be: our savior Yeshua. Study him. Talk to him. Listen to him. Talk about him. INVITE him you’re your life and heart (Ephesians 3:17). When you get up and when you lie down, commune with him. When I do these things, I have wonderful spiritual days. But when I don’t – well, I don’t even want to talk about how bad it can be. Like Paul said, if we don’t follow the leading of God’s spirit, and stay focused on our Savior, we will still do those things we hate (Romans 7:14-20). So a huge key is to focus on your Savior in your thoughts, actions and words.
People should – over time – start to see more and more of Yeshua in you and me and less and less of the old carnal, selfish self we used to be. “UNTIL Christ is formed in you” – Gal. 4:19. Until we reach the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”-- Eph 4:13. This doesn’t happen instantly, or else Paul would not have said “until”.
So focus on Yeshua, as we’re told to do, rather than on yourself. So many sermons seem to forget this. Why would anyone want to focus on filth and evil (our sins)—rather than on the pure holiness that is our Messiah? Focusing on yourself will so discourage you that you won’t even want to bother trying anymore at times.
Repent of your past, give it up, day by day if you have to – and dedicate yourself to letting Messiah transform you. The Spirit will lead you – if you slow down and listen to your heart, to the spirit trying to guide you by deep seated thoughts and feelings in “your gut”. Test those thoughts to be sure they are from God’s spirit – which will always be in harmony with the Word of God – then follow. Obey the leading of the spirit of God.
I like to read this passage below very slowly from time to time to remember who saved me, is saving me, and whose grace is justifying me. Remember, to be “justified’ includes wiping the slate clean, but often also points to God’s own righteousness.
“HE saved us — not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to HIS mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.”
This life of being transformed is not something we will do alone. We have God’s Spirit. We have our older brother Yeshua (Jesus) who committed himself to finishing what HE started in us. His name means “Salvation”. That’s what and who HE is – the Savior. My Savior is my savior.
“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you WILL complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”
Yes, this transformation will take time. Don’t give up on Christ’s working in you. Satan wants you to get discouraged. Give him no quarter. Focus on the promise that our Beloved Servant King Yeshua will finish what he started, and present you SPOTLESS, without fault, before him at his return (Jude 24-25). When we are changed to spirit, when our “corruptible puts on incorruption”, we shall be like our Father in heaven, and even see Him as He is, for we shall be like him (1 John 3:2).
1 John 3:2-3
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure”.
I can’t wait to be perfectly transformed. I just can’t wait. But wait we will. Wait we must – for that perfect transformation. This transformation does take time. Don’t get discouraged. Just seek your Savior and Father with all your might and soul and ask Him to work mightily in you, transforming you day by day from what you are today to what He wants you to be in the resurrection.
[There are excellent blogs also by a brother writing for www.tacticalchristianity.org Check them out.]