Genuine Transformation is Effortless
Transformation is not self-attained or self-sustained, but only accomplished by God. In the same way, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is God’s fruit and not ours. The listing of the fruit in Galatians chapter five is not a “to-do” list for us to try to fulfill but an expected outcome of genuine transformation. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control are not attributes that we are to strive toward but rather an outflow of transformation. This raises two more questions. 1) “Why are the fruits not always present in our lives? 2) What is hindering us from experiencing them?” We are going to examine these very important questions. (Spoiler alert: The answer is not in our overcoming sin.)
It is important that we discover why God is so invested in refining our faith. We also need to identify what it is about our faith that needs to be refined. The very fact that our faith needs refinement suggests that it is not completely pure. However, before we explore these facets of faith refinement, we must first understand what faith is and why its refinement is critical for successfully living out the Christian life.
The Bible is clear when it says, “without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). This passage is a strong indicator that a genuine faith is critical if we are to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10).
A refined faith made pure is the foundation stone that supports living a life pleasing to God. Therefore, it is vitally important that we understand what it is, how to attain it, and how to help bring about its purification. The Apostle Paul brings it all in focus and clarifies the importance of faith when he wrote “… whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).
TPM is a “tool” by which we may participate with God in His refining process so that He may more effectively bring about genuine and lasting transformation. When this occurs the fruit of the Holy Spirit is experienced naturally and spontaneously as an outcome of a purified faith.
A Needed Discipline
Some have tried to be transformed through self-effort, discipline and self-abasement. Transformation is a work of God and not something that we bring about. So then, we do not need to discipline ourselves to be transformed into His likeness. However, there is a discipline in our choosing to position ourselves where He can better accomplish this work. We can resist Him, blame others, or distract ourselves from what His fire exposes in us by self-medicating, and in many other ways thwart His purpose.
Cooperating with God requires that we choose (discipline) to take ownership and responsibility for what is ours and to submit to “… His mighty hand …” (1 Pet. 5:6) during His refining fire. As we choose to do this (discipline) we will reap the benefit of Him granting us a pure faith and an effortless transformation.
When life happens around us we will sometimes feel the emotional pain stir up from our lie-based belief being triggered. In this moment it requires us to discipline ourselves to move in the direction of freedom. It is much easier to play the victim role and blame others or our situation. Sometimes it is all we can do to stop what we are doing, slow things down and look inside. However, as we cooperate with what God is doing in exposing our false belief and allow Him to replace our lies with His truth, we can progressively experience the transformation He has for us.