Transformation: The Goal of Every TPM Session
Transformation and Buttterflies
The word for “transformed” in the New Testament Greek is metamorphoō. This word denotes change that occurs apart from one’s own strength or effort. Transformation occurs in a ministry session when the Holy Spirit replaces a lie with His truth. Then the lie no longer feels true, and the truth is experientially fixed in our hearts as “heart belief.” Heart belief is not something that we can acomplish or bring about on our own. Only the Spirit can cause us to believe the truth with the heart. We can add to our intellectual knowledge of truth, but unless the Spirit persuades us of the truth in our hearts we cannot believe it.
This transformation is not something that we can accomplish on our own; it is wholly a work of God. It may 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. However, it does prepare and position itself for the transformation that is coming. It eats leaves, finds a suitable place to spin a cocoon, and then waits. When transformation occurs, the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, a new creation. It does not need to maintain this transformation; it is permanent.
In similar fashion, the transformation that the Spirit brings about in our hearts is not accomplished through our self-effort, discipline, or performance. Once we are transformed, we do not have to maintain it or work at it. It is who we are. In the same way that the caterpillar-turned-butterfly does not have to stop acting like a caterpillar and try to act like a butterfly, we who are transformed do not have to stop acting like a sinner and try to act holy; we are new creatures created in holiness. We just need to recognize that we have wings and start flying.
Someone might say, “The caterpillar struggled to get free from the cocoon so we too in similar fashion have to struggle to be transformed.” First, the caterpillar was not the one struggling, but rather the butterfly who had already been transformed. In similar fashion as new creatures in Christ, we struggle to enter into the reality of “what is” our position and place in Chrsit. We are not struggling to become, but rather to realize. Like the butterfly we struggle finding freedom from the cocoon we wove as a caterpillar, but it has nothing to do with our transforming. However, there is a good that comes from our struggle in the same way the butterfly is benefited from its struggle. We can “…exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom. 5:3-5)
Transformation is the outcome of God Renewing our minds
Romans 12:2 says, “…be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” This indicates that transformation is a byproduct of mind renewal. Mind renewal does not come from growing in knowledge of the Scriptures, but rather by us being transformed in our hearts by the truth. Knowing what the Bible says is no guarantee that we will be transformed by the truth we know. Although many of us have memorized Bible passages, it is often difficult for us to incorporate them into our lives. We wanted them to be effective in our daily lives, but in spite of trying and we may very hard to make this a reality, we fell short. However, when the Lord transforms us through His truth, these scriptures will be incorporated effortlessly—and remain. As a result, our lives will express the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Transformation is not accomplished by “doing the fruit” but rather by being the fruit. Too often we expend much energy trying to conform our lives to the truth and fail to be transformed by the truth. Mind renewal always results in transformation. Bible knowledge may only make us smarter.
Although accumulating Bible knowledge has value in and of itself, and is part of the preparation, it does not in and of itself, transform us. It may make us smarter, but it does not cause us to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” If this were the case, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day would have been examples of transformation, and even unbelievers would be able to experience transformation without coming to Christ. There are many people, well educated in scripture, who do not reflect the character of Christ.
Genuine transformation is God achieved, God sustained, and requires no effort on our part to attain it, or live it out, once it is established. It requires no more effort to live out the truth that transforms us, than it did to live out the lies we previously believed. When I know the truth experientially, I will be renewed and spontaneously live differently from that point forward. Transformation is not trying to be like Jesus. Transformation is being like Jesus without trying.
Mind renewal is a work of God in the same way that the salvation of my soul is a work of God. We can’t renew our minds any more than we can restore our hearts. Like the caterpillar, we can prepare for this work by growing in knowledge and positioning ourselves to receive, but transformation is a work of the Holy Spirit. It occurs as He illuminates the truth that we already know intellectually, resulting in us knowing that truth experientially in our hearts. 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).
Unless God takes the truth that we know in our minds and illuminates it within our hearts, we cannot experience the transformation that He has for us. The Apostle Paul prayed this for the Church in Ephesus: “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Eph. 1:17-18).
Being transformed is the stated purpose of TPM. The process of TPM (what happens in a ministry session) is only the system we follow as we cooperate with God as He persuades our hearts of the truth. Too often people think that TPM is a ministry tool for helping emotionally troubled people, when in fact the focus of TPM is truth as opposed to the lies we believe. Our problem is not so much that we believe lies, but rather we lack the truth. When we know the truth in our hearts everything else falls in place.