Transformation: Solely a Work of God

by | Jul 17, 2017

Changing one thing into another

Key Concepts

  • Genuine transformation is Godachieved and Godsustained, requiring no effort on our part to attain it or live it out.
  • Increasing knowledge may make one smarter, but it does not transform the mind.
  • Transformation is Godachieved and Godsustained, requiring no effort on our part to attain it or live it out. Transformation is not trying to be like Jesus, but rather the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Mind renewal that brings about transformation is a work of God in the same way that the salvation of my soul is a work of God. I can’t renew my mind any more than I can restore my heart.
  • Transformation is the Goal of Every TPM Session.

 

The New Testament Greek word for “transformed” is metamorphoō. This word denotes change resulting from forces beyond one’s own effort or power. It might be compared to the metamorphosis that occurs when a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. The butterfly does not expend any personal energy or effort in the transformation. Once the transformation occurs, the butterfly is a new creation and does not need to work to maintain its transformation. However, he does position himself for the transformation that is coming. In similar fashion, when we strike a match that ignites the wooden stem, the wood is transformed from wood into carbon because of the flame. The wood only submits to the flame and therein, changes effortlessly from one thing into another. It also requires no effort of the wood to maintain its transformed state. This is what God desires for us; transformation that changes us into something we cannot become on our own. This is where the fruit of the Spirit is made manifest.

The same is true with mind renewal and transformation. They are not accomplished by working at accumulating Bible knowledge, although this has value in and of itself. Increasing knowledge may make one smarter, but it does not transform the mind. If this were the case, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day would have been examples of transformation, and unbelievers could hope for transformation by merely memorizing Bible verses. However, neither the religious leaders nor unbelievers could experience the transformation the Bible refers to where it says: “…be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom. 12:2). We see here that genuine transformation is a byproduct of having the mind renewed. Now we need to discover what this renewal entails.

Genuine transformation is God-achieved and God-sustained, requiring no effort on our part to attain it or live it out. When we know the truth in our hearts, we will be renewed and live differently from that point forward—without effort. Transformation is not trying to be like Jesus, but rather Jesus living His life in and through us resulting in us experiencing the fruit of the Spirit.

Mind renewal that produces transformation is a work of God in the same way that the salvation of my soul is a work of God. I can’t renew my mind any more than I can restore my heart. Transformation is a work of the Holy Spirit. He illuminates the truth we already know intellectually, which results in a change in our belief and behavior.

This is the essence of living by faith—knowing the truth with absolute certainty and walking in the Spirit. As the Apostle Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God…” (Gal. 2:20 HCSB).

 

 

Transformation of the Inner Man Occurred at the Cross but this Had Little Impact on My Mind.

Key Concepts

  • The cross of Jesus changed my heart, made me a “new creation,” crucified my “old man” (I died with Christ–Rom. 6:8), and I became a “new man” in Christ, but the cross did not completely change my core beliefs.
  • Even though we have been “…created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24), we can only genuinely live out the truth to the degree that we experientially believe it with our hearts.
  • If we possess Christ, then transformation will be the verification of His indwelling presence, and the fruit of His Spirit will be evident in our lives. Spiritual performance and acting like Jesus is what any lost person could do if they set their mind to it, but transformation is a work of God and not of man.

 

The cross of Jesus changed my heart, made me a “new creation,” crucified my “old man” (I died with Christ–Rom. 6:8), and I became a “new man” in Christ, but the cross did not completely change my core beliefs. As a matter of fact, very little changed in the beliefs I held in my heart. Without question, the cross made me a new man in Christ. When Jesus died, I died with Him.  When He was resurrected, I came out of the tomb with Him, for He has “… raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:6).

Because I came to believe in my heart that I needed a savior and that Jesus was my only hope, this heart belief caused me to be “born again.” Because of the cross, the old (that is in my spirit person) all passed away —died— and I was made right with God, and declared holy and beloved, his righteousness, a partaker of the divine nature, and a new creature in Christ (Eph. 4:24, 2 Pet. 1:4, Gal. 6:15, 2 Cor. 5:17).  Even though I was made totally new in my spirit person when I was saved, my core beliefs remained relatively intact. The Lord’s death took my sins away having them all nailed to the cross, but it did not change too much of my lie-based belief. But with a new heart I was equipped and motivated to begin the journey toward having my mind renewed and to be transformed.

This doesn’t minimize the magnitude of my salvation, for I was delivered from death and entered into His life. I was lost and then found. I was transferred out of the domain of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of His son! I turned to Christ and was saved because of the initial change in my belief about my need for Him: I was a sinner in need of a savior; helpless apart from God’s mercy and grace; lost, without hope. But coming into His Kingdom did not renew the rest of my mind.

Maybe I can illustrate it this way. Envision yourself walking down the road carrying a large suitcase. Your arms are aching from the weight of your load, but you have no choice other than to carry it since it belongs to you. However, it is important to note that even though you own the contents of your suitcase, and are responsible for it all, what is in your bag is not who you are. Your suitcase is what you are carrying and the contents are the clothes that you may wear, but none of it makes up any part of your personal being.

Up ahead you notice a cross erected in the roadway. On this cross you notice a man being crucified. As you draw closer you see a sign that says “Certificate of Debt” nailed to the wooden beam. What you see causes you great grief and regret. You ask the Lord what you need to do and He asks you to open up your suitcase.

You kneel at the foot of the cross and open it up. However, doing so causes a wave of stench to fill the air. The suitcase contains all of your sins—past, present, and future—but it also holds all your lie-based core beliefs. In that moment you realize in your heart that you are lost and in need of a savior. As soon as you believe this truth in your heart, all of your sins immediately leave your suitcase and are put upon Jesus. You also notice that the Certificate of Debt nailed to the cross has your name on it declaring you to be freed from your sins and your debt paid in full. This all feels really good, but all at once everything has become pitch black. You realize that Jesus has died, but that you are also dead with Christ in the tomb.

After a time you notice a light breaking through, filling the tomb. You find yourself looking out through the opening of the tomb. You were dead, but now you are alive! You died with Jesus, but now you have been brought back to life with Him! As you follow Him out of the tomb, to your amazement, you are glowing white as He is. You are sharing in His perfect holiness.  To your amazement you also discover your suitcase next to the large daunting stone that had covered the opening a few moments before. When you pick it up, you realize that it is much lighter than it was. The most obvious difference is the absence of all the sins. Nonetheless, it is still quite heavy. The sins are gone, but the lie-based core beliefs remain.  When you open it up you remember its contents. Thoughts such as, “I am worthless, a defect, unlovable and more fill your mind.” As you dwell on these thoughts you notice that the holy splendor you shared with Jesus a few moments earlier start to fade.  The Lord sees this too, but He does not seem to be troubled by it. Instead he signals for you to pick up the suitcase and follow Him. So with your suitcase in hand, you follow after the risen Lord. You are now without your sins, but you are still believing lies. Removing each lie one by one will be a long and laborious journey, but the Lord is with you and He will bring it about.

 

Old Things Become New

Key Concepts

  • There are no sins in our suitcase since the “certificate of debt” has been paid and Jesus took our sin away, but our suitcase is full of lies that the Lord desires to replace with His truth.
  • We need the same spiritual transformation that has occurred in our hearts at our salvation to also occur in our minds.
  • When we know the truth experientially in our hearts, it becomes our faith.
  • Genuine transformation will be the verification of His indwelling presence, and the fruit of His Spirit will be evident in our lives.
  • When “transformation” is that which we are doing through controlling our behavior and trying to act like Jesus, then something is wrong.
  • Spiritual performance and acting like Jesus is what any lost person could do if they set their mind to it, but transformation is a work of God and not of man.

When we came to Christ, we were made a new creation in our spirit man. The “old man” became the “new man.” The “old self” became the “new self.” All of the old has passed away and all things have become new in our new man in Christ. But our mind remains relatively untouched and in need of being renewed. There are no sins in our suitcase since the “certificate of debt” has been paid and Jesus took our sin away, but our suitcase is full of lies that the Lord desires to replace with His truth.

After we have become Christians, we need the same spiritual transformation that has occurred in our hearts to occur in our minds. Transformation of the mind is necessary in order to walk in the victory that is promised and has already been granted in our inner man. Even though we have been “…created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24), we can only genuinely live out the truth to the degree that we experientially believe it with our hearts. As I have said, when we know the truth experientially in our hearts, it becomes our faith: “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen…” (Heb. 11:1).

Our core belief has great influence on how we live. Even when we know the truth intellectually, our experiential lie-based emotional pain tends to wield the greater influence and power. Therefore, our minds need to be renewed “so that we might be able to prove [live out] what is the perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). This renewal goes beyond accumulating more knowledge; it requires God’s intervention to change this intellectual knowledge into experientially “knowing” and believing with the heart.

According to the Scriptures, a Christian is a person who possesses the Spirit of Christ. This is the only real test of authentic Christianity. Paul said it this way, “… if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Rom. 8:9). If we possess Christ His Spirit will be evident in our lives. Genuine transformation will be the verification of His indwelling presence, and the fruit of His Spirit will be evident in our lives. If we are lacking genuine transformation (change that only He has wrought in us) and the absence of His fruit, then something is amiss. If our “transformation” is that which we are doing through controlling our behavior and trying to act like Jesus, then something is wrong. Spiritual performance and acting like Jesus is what any lost person could do if they set their mind to it, but transformation is a work of God and not of man.

 

 

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