Summary: The word transformed is used 4 times in the New Testament. Twice describing Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and twice describing God’s affect on Christians. Thankfully, it is not something I try to accomplish, but something God accomplished in me.
When I enlisted in the Army in 1985, I was a naïve, country boy from WV. After their offer and my oath of commitment, the Army upheld their responsibilities and I upheld mine. Over time, by their influence and training, I was transformed into a soldier.
If the military can accomplish that in me, how much greater are the results with God doing the transforming?!
The word transformed is used 4 times in the New Testament. Twice describing Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and twice describing God’s affect on Christians.
The word metamorphoo means to change the essential form or nature of something. It describes a change on the outside that originates from a change on the inside. In each instance the word is used, it is in the passive tense which tells us it is NOT something WE do, but something that is done to us.
As we study God’s word, we understand a Christian has been regenerated. In other words, a Christian has been made spiritually alive (John 3:3), having become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) as a result of faith in Jesus Christ. We also understand that those who submit to the authority of God will be changed.
Have you ever changed your behavior hoping your heart and desire will change as well? For example: I know it does me no spiritual good to drink alcohol. I understand it influences my mind, which circumvents the influence of the Holy Spirit. So, I don’t go to bars and I do not drink with the hope my desire for alcohol goes away.
Another example: I know pornography is a perversion of God’s creation. I understand it wrongly influences my thoughts and desires. So, I set up guards - I will not be alone on the internet and I will use software to block pornography. Hoping, over time, my desire will change.
Both of these examples describe me doing something externally in an attempt to change something internally.
Namely MY desire. This is behavior modification, NOT spiritual transformation. For the most part, it is a temporary change until my circumstances change or I am influenced negatively. Sadly, this is the way most Christians attempt to live a victorious life. (They do what they think they are supposed to do, hoping they will no longer want to do what they are not supposed to do.)
This brings up some questions. Since I am passive in the transformation described in Scripture, how am I transformed? How do my desires and appetites change?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us WE (Christians) ARE the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 3:16-17 tells us Christ Himself dwells within us through the Holy Spirit. Why does God dwell within us? Is it for peace knowing that God is with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death? Is it so the demons cannot possess us? Is it a guarantee, so God will receive us when our time is finished? That is part of it, but certainly not all of it!
Why would God place His Spirit within His people?
Jerry Bridges said, “All that God has for us and all that He has purposed for us is in Christ. But it is the role of the Holy Spirit to apply the life and power of Christ to us.”