Romans 12:1-2. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
What is true transformation? How does being in Christ change us? We’ve already written about how we must distinguish true transformation from simply using Jesus for self-improvement. True gospel transformation must always be connected to the cross. To the death of the self and then (and only then) to resurrection.
The word “transformed” is a word (metamorphoo) that Paul has used only once before:
2 Corinthians 3:18. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
So 2 Corinthians 3:18 is our commentary on Romans 12:2. What do we learn when we put these two amazing verses side by side?
(btw- To Live is Christ has a ten part series on 2 Corinthians 3:18 from August 11-20, 2018)
Much like our life in Christ, the Special Olympics is all about the ordinary becoming extraordinary. Glorious even. There is truly an internal transformation that occurs as the athletes compete. If you haven’t been tracking with it this week I highly recommend you watch some of the highlights. Inspiring!
1. True transformation is happening. You are being transformed into Christ. Even if you don’t feel like you are. It’s ongoing. It’s a process. It’s inevitable. And it’s impossible to stop.
2. Transformation and mind renewal is the work of the Holy Spirit. Look at 2 Corinthians 3:18 again, “this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, who renews our minds. The word “renewal” is a word used by Paul in Titus 3:5 to describe the Spirit’s saving work in our lives.
Titus 3:5. he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
This is why we must insist that our transformation, our growth, our changing, is never a self-improvement project. It is never self-help. It is not “girl wash your face.” It is only by the Spirit’s work. But it is also through our participation with the Spirit. The Spirit transforms us as we behold Christ, meditate on Christ, live our lives dependent upon Christ, just as Jesus lived dependent upon the Father. The Spirit changes our desires miraculously giving us a new heart. As our desire for Christ increases the transformation occurs. We want what he wants. We love what he loves.
3. “Mind renewal” and “beholding the glory of the Lord” are the same thing. More on mind renewal tomorrow, but for now let’s remember that mind renewal, like “beholding the glory of the Lord,” is worship. Mind renewal leads to the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices and is our spiritual worship. Worship is our way of life. It is “to live is Christ.” And it all funnels through our thinking. From our heart to our mind to our bodies. The Spirit renews our desires, our new desires in Christ renew our thinking, and finally we can make decisions with our body that honor the Christ that is alive in us. That whole process is life as a sacrifice in worship to God.
4. Our transformation is a conformity to the glory of Christ. We transform from glory to glory as we conform to the image of Christ (not the world). From glory to glory is our daily movement from death to resurrection, from death to resurrection. From suffering to death to life. Over and over. Sin dying, faith rising. Christ being formed in us. Us being conformed to him. This is what we are predestined unto.
Romans 8:29. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
“To live is Christ” is this true transformation. A transformation that conforms us to Christ’s mold. The mold of his death and resurrection. His loving and living. His glory.