Summary: Followers of Christ are not to conform to the devil’s schematic, but cooperate with a transformation that enables conformity to God’s plan.
Romans 11:33 – 12:2
A woman was undergoing surgery and died on the operating table. But God told her that He wasn’t going to call her home for twenty more years. When she recovered, she was so glad to know she had so many years that she decided to change everything about her appearance. She had a face life, changed the color and style of her hair and went in for liposuction. Leaving the hospital, she was hit by a speeding ambulance and died. She cried, “God, what happened? You said I had twenty more years!” God replied, “I’m sorry! I didn’t recognize you.”
Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “the one thing constant is change.” Sometimes we want change and try to make it happen. Other times we don’t want change and resist it. We work hard to prevent the transformation of our bodies caused by aging, or to reverse the effects of aging when we haven’t succeeded in preventing them. The structures and systems of organizations are constantly changing – at times by forces beyond our control, and sometimes by designs we hope will increase effectiveness. Our families are always changing as children grow up and we transition from one life-stage to the next.
But this morning let’s talk about the most important kind of transformation. The spiritual metamorphosis we read about in Romans 11:33 – 12:2.
Please look again at verse 2; Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will (NIV).
If you’re looking at your own Bible, circle the words, “conform” and “transformed.”
The words Paul used here will sound familiar to you.
The word we translate “conform” is schema. What does that sound like to you?
We get from it words like scheme or schematic. When I did some work with electronics I worked with schematics. That’s the plan or diagram that shows how each component is connected so the device works properly. If you’re assembling a radio, you’d better be sure it conforms to the schematic. If you want to mess with someone’s mind just for fun, or sabotage their efforts out of meanness, switch their schematic with one designed for a different model than they’re assembling.
The Bible warns us that the devil, the prince of this darkened world, has switched schematics on us. He has a plan for us that will lead us away from God if we conform to its design. We have to follow a different design and conform to God’s schematic.
Peter said it this way. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:14-15)
To conform to God’s schematic, you must transform. The word Paul used for this is metamorfousthe. What does that sound like?
We are familiar with metamorphosis in biology. Physical life forms transform. The larva (caterpillar) enters the pupa (cocoon) stage, then becomes an adult (butterfly). An egg grows into a tadpole that lives only in water, breathes with gills and has a tail. Soon it grows lungs and legs. The gills and tail are absorbed into the body and you have a frog.
Metamorphisis also appears in mythology as humans are said to have become other creatures. For example, Pleiades, the seven daughters of Atlas were attendants of Artemis the goddess of wildlife and hunting. They were pursued by Orion the hunter and rescued by the gods who transformed them into doves. After death, they were transformed by Zeus into a group of stars in the constellation Taurus. They were said to be forever pursued across sky by the Orion constellation.
But we need to understand metamorphosis in theology. It is the word translated “transfigured” in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2. “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matt 17:2, NIV).
The word also appears in 2 Cor 3:18 where it’s translated “transformed”. That verse says, “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (NIV).
Butterflies and frogs have no choice. Metamorphosis is built into their DNA. But spiritual metamorphosis isn’t automatic. It doesn’t just happen to us. It is the result of cooperation and conformity with God’s Spirit working in us.
It might help to think of Romans 12:1 and 2 as describing stages of spiritual metamorphosis.
1. Relinquish your body as an offering to honor God.