Thursday, September 6, 2007

Not Conformed—Transformed!

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is god, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. (J. B. Phillips)

And do not follow the customs of the present age, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your minds, so that you may learn by experience what God's will is — that will which is good and beautiful and perfect. (Weymouth New Testament)

Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (The Message)
The contrast Paul presents here is really quite stark: Being conformed to this present age, or being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

The Greek word for “world” in this verse is aion, and actually refers to a period of time, an age. The god of this age, satan, is always trying to squeeze us into his mold by blinding us to the glory of God.
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Jesus came to deliver us from this present age.
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
To be conformed to something is to be made like it, but outwardly; it does not necessarily reflect the inner being. But to be transformed means to be changed from the inside out, so that the outward appearance truly reflects the inward being.

The Greek word for “conform” comes from the word schema, which is where we get our word “scheme.” It has do with one’s manner of life and what may be perceived about a person by the physical senses. The word for “transform” is metamorphuo, which is where we get our word “metamorphosis.”

Think of a caterpillar when it goes into its cocoon, then later emerges as a beautiful butterfly. It looks much different coming out than it did going it, but now we see what it was really intended to be. The outward appearance has now been changed to reflect the inward reality. That is metamorphosis — transformation!

We find a wonderful example of the difference between conformation (schema) and transformation (metamorphuo) in the life of Jesus Christ.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
Jesus was in the form of God. The Greek word is morphe. He was fully divine, through and through. Then He took upon himself the form (morphe) of a man. That is, He became fully human, through and through. He became a unique being — the God Man, fully divine and fully human.

Notice that he was “found in appearance as a man.” The word for “found” refers to how He was perceived. The word for “appearance” is schemati. He was truly God and truly human at the same time, but to the physical senses, He was perceived as simply a man.

Now consider this unique event in His earthly life and ministry that shows us transformation.
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. (Matthew 17:1-2)
The word for “transfigured” is metamorphothe — transformation! The reality of His divinity, which before was not perceptible to the physical senses, now became quite evident. The outward manifestation now reflected the inward reality, and now it was apparent to the senses that He was both God and man. The disciples saw “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). He has now ascended to His throne in heaven to rule and reign forever as the God Man, and His divinity is just as perceptible as His humanity, even as the disciples experienced that day on the Mount of Transfiguration.

All those who are born again through faith in Jesus Christ are born from above. Though we are living in this age, we are not of it — we are of heaven. Paul teaches us to not let ourselves be shaped by the ways of this present age, whose god is satan, but to let ourselves be changed by the plans and purposes of God, so that our outward manner matches us with the reality of who we really. Then the shape of our lives will speak of where we are really from — heaven.