Suppose you could change anything about yourself, where would you start? Lots of us would start on the outside. But as hard as it is to change on the outside, it seems infinitely harder to change on the inside. Think about the struggles of your own life. What would you change about yourself on the inside if you could?
Would it be an impatient spirit?
Would it be a critical tongue?
Would it be envy of those around you?
Would it be a spirit of discontentment?
Would it be lingering resentment?
Would it be lust you can’t conquer?
Would it be financial mismanagement?
Would it be a guilty conscience?
Would it be an inability to work with others?
Would it be an overbearing stubbornness?
Would it be a judgmental spirit?
Would it be a quick temper?
Would it be profound discouragement?
Would it be an inability to appreciate life?
Would it be an ungrateful spirit?
Would it be a disorganized life?
Would it be a mean streak you can’t seem to get rid of?
We all want to change something, but we don’t know how to do it and we don’t know where to begin. We all dream of being something different and better than the person we are today. That brings me to one of the better-known verses in the New Testament (Rom 12:2). God expects that, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we will be radically changed. He expects us to become totally and obviously different. Scripture uses many different images to express the change that should occur.
We become “…a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17). We are to “…be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph 4:23). We are to “put off concerning the former conversation the old man “ and “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph 4:22,24; Col 3:9-10). We are to “Walk in the Spirit “ and not by the flesh (Gal 5:16; Rom 8:13). We are to become “instruments of righteousness” rather than “instruments of unrighteousness” (Rom 6:13). We are no longer “servants…of sin unto death” but have become “servants…of obedience unto righteousness” (Rom 6:16). Each of these verses, in a different way, emphasizes the magnitude of the change that is expected. We are talking about a tremendous transformation that should be distinct, self-evident, and mistakenly obvious.
God is in the transformation business, and wants you to be becoming what He has always intended for you to be…Christlike! Transformation is the process of being transformed from one degree of likeness to Christ to another, (i.e. we are growing in His likeness). Sanctification is the word for the process whereby Christians are gradually transformed from looking and acting like the “old man” to looking and acting more like Christ (Eph 4:24). Being “transformed” refers to the process; “conformed” refers to the finished product. Jesus is our pattern or mold. We are being ‘transformed’ so that we will eventually be ‘conformed’ to the likeness of Jesus.
(To be continued)