Transformation is a lifelong process

 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by renewing your mind. Then you can test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2).[1]  Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10 ) And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). Answer the following questions for yourself.  Then share the answers with us on this blog.

  1. When does transformation come?
  2. How long does it take?
  3. What does the work of transformation, and what does it have to do with worship?
  4. How have you experienced spiritual transformation?
  5. Have you experienced it through worship?
  6. Have you experienced it through witnessing someone?
  7. What does it take on your part to become transformed?

I will answer the last question at this time.  It requires obedience.  The prophet Isaiah describes what happened before his transformation began.  “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”At the sound of their voices, the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke.“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,  understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (Isaiah 6:1-10 ).

Notice the steps in the progression of Isaiah’s transformation before God could call him and use him as a witness to the nation of Assyria and Israel.

  1. First, he sees God.
  2. Second, he sees himself and acknowledges his sin.
  3. He is cleansed and forgiven of those sins.. his transformation begins.
  4. God asks who I can send to carry out the work.
  5. He responds with, “Send me!”

It is to be noted that there is not one human being on this earth who was born perfectly. Not since Adam and he were created perfectly.  Every human being, no matter who they are, was “. . . . Every human being, no matter who they are, was “. . . . I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5 ).  This is David, the man after God’s own heart who is speaking. The Bible addresses sin and that everyone is a slave to it no matter how perfect their home life was or even if their parents bathed their minds in the Bible every single minute of every day. 

 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness and eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ( Romans 6:20-23).

At some point in every human being’s life, they must submit to the call of the Holy Spirit or reject God.  It is as simple as that.  The transformation process begins at the very moment that we submit to that call, and so does our conversion story.

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone from you and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ).

 Only The Holy Spirit can do the work of transformation.  Our own human will cannot save us.  We do not just decide that we will be “good” people one day. Why? Because “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death James 1:14-15 ).”  The call of the Holy Spirit gives us life.  If we can decide that we are good people and good enough to enter heaven when we die, then Christ died in vain. Salvation is something that we have “earned” on our own. So, once again, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10) The daily renewal is the lifelong part, that is, transformation.  That is the Holy Spirit working in our hearts. We are saved, forgiven, and transformed into the image of God and Jesus Christ.  God created mankind to have a personal, intimate relationship with him.  He wanted us to be just like him. “Then God said, “Let make mankind in our image in our likeness,” The fulfillment of this scripture begins each time a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. When sin entered the picture, Christ gave his life so the process of transformation could begin in our lives. No, the Bible is not just a book like any other book. If it is, it will not matter where we go when we die!  Oh, but Glorious day.  William McRaney pointed out something that is often true in modern evangelism. “Often in the Christian life, we separate salvation from lordship, a decision from a disciple.”[2]  That is the experience that most people undergo. Many people understand the message of the Gospel; they may even understand that they need Jesus Christ in their lives; however, they do not connect any of that with obedience to him.   Neither do they comprehend that transformation is a lifelong process.  Thus, the disparaging things that young people state about adult Christians as a reason for them leaving the church. There are many misconceptions about the transformation or growth process that believers embark on the day they accept the call of the Holy Spirit. William Fay calls the most common misconception the “lie of the middle.”[3] This is the “I am a good person; in fact, I am so good I am good enough to get into heaven; without obedience to God and The Great Commission” statement that so many people make when approached with the gospel. Unfortunately, the biblical theology that pervades our thought processes must be rooted in the fact that salvation is received by grace through faith. It has nothing to do with our Good deeds, catechism, Hail Marys, praise of the Lord, missionary work, or any other work of our hands. The establishment of a relationship with The Lord that requires obedience is lost if the plethora of “tithing, programs, church activities, do this, and don’t do this, and don’t do “that isms” that pervades the church.”  The simplicity of Jesus Christ him crucified, his love for humanity, and that he wants us all to become a part of “his community” is lost in the noise of religiosity. “[Transformation] may not be an easy process, but when we submit ourselves to God’s work in our lives, we place ourselves in a position for him to change us and use us for his glory.”[4] 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro. 5:6-8). Finally, the transformation of one’s lifestyle is a process that requires obedience. Obedience to the call on our lives and obedience to God’s will for our lives.  Are you ready to live a life that is transformed by the Holy Spirit?  Let us know what you think.  Contact us.

 Notes

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).

[2] Will McRaney Jr., The Art of Personal Evangelism, (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2003), 44.

[3] William Fay, Share Jesus without Fear, (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 1999), 7.

[4] David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley, Worship and Witness: Becoming a Great Commission Worshiper (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2012), 55.

 

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