Be Transformed

Tom Irwin gave a message at the conference on the topic of being transformed. This post is based on his message, but not a retelling.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 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 12:1-2

There are many imperative statements in the scriptures. In the verses above, we see two in one verse: “do not be conformed” and “be transformed.” These are not given as options. They are given as commands. A normal, healthy Christian life is marked by transformation in both mind and action. The power for this kind of change, necessarily, comes from the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer who reads their Bible. Moody is quoted to have said: “The scriptures were not given for information, but for transformation.” If we are to live a life of separation from the world, we must be in the Word so we can know how the Lord would have us change. The alternative, of course, is conformity to the world. If we allow ourselves to be exposed to a constant stream of secular media, our lives will be marked with conformity to the world. It is only natural to pick apples off of apple trees.

CaterpillarThe process of being transformed begins when a person presents their body as a living sacrifice to God. In doing so, the person is giving up their own desires in exchange for His. Once this has happened, the Lord raises them to newness of life, leaving them in the world, yet commanding them to “not be conformed.” In the story of the prodigal son, the father clothes his repentant son in a beautiful garment and invites him into his house. Can you imagine how the father wouldhim back int feel if the son were to, while still dressed in the new robe, ignore the invitation and go to wallow in that old pig pen? It is only reasonable for a believer to leave the sins they once knew in the world behind as they seek to be transformed into the image of God.

When our Lord went up onto the mountain and was transfigured before His disciples, his true glory began to show. In fact, in Mark 9:3 it says that even His clothes were changed and became “exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” It was as if Jesus’ inner beauty began to show on His outside. This is the same kind of transformation the Lord wants for us. At the moment of salvation, God washes us from our sins and makes us whiter than snow. Over the course of our sanctification process, He wants that inner purity to start shining out so others can see it. In order for transformation to occur it will require a renewing of the mind. In Ephesians 5:25-27 we read “…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Emphasis added.) The way the Lord transforms minds is by exposing them to the purity of His Word.

Given all this, the question comes to mind: “why do so few seem to be transformed?” If I were to look at my own life, I can identify a few contributing factors. Among them are: busyness, laziness, complacency, and fear. I am capable of filling my schedule so full that there is hardly a spare minute for meditation on God’s word or prayer. Add to that a fear of change and a lack of motivation due to indolence and contentment, and it’s not difficult to see why transformation is slow in coming.

The unfortunate reality is that there is no way to live in both worlds at the same time. God allows us to either be conformed or transformed. Which will you choose to be?

What Manner of Persons Ought You to Be…?

This past week I attended the Shepherding Conference at Greenwood Hills and was tremendously blessed by the ministry, fellowship, and prayer. It is my desire to recount a few of the highlights from the meetings I enjoyed. The first meeting was given by Mike Attwood.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:10-12

With the idea of encouraging the shepherds of local assemblies, Mike spoke on the topic of living as an example before the flock. He began by reminding us that our lives should be marked by love: love for God and love for the people in our meetings.

He then explained that one of the largest problems in the assemblies in America today is “the cloud of spiritual apathy” that hangs over our congregation. We are people who have so much, yet care so little. In assembly circles it is easy to find people who are content with the status quo: meeting on Sunday for the breaking of bread, “fellowshipping” for a half an hour afterward, and going home, never to interact with their fellow brothers and sisters until the following Sunday. (Some show up to the midweek meeting; but is that out of a love for the scripture and others or out of a sense of religious duty?) I’m guilty of this myself. Over time I’ve seen my preparation for the breaking of bread dwindle to a bare minimum. I’ve also realized that there are many people that I have seen at church over the past 3 years, yet I’ve never spent much time getting to know them.

With a powerful illustration, similar to “polishing the brass on the Titanic,” Mike reminded us that we are living in a world that is reserved for fire. He compared the world to a house that had been condemned. He continued to say that we are living in this house and if we look out the window we will see bulldozers making their way up the driveway to begin the demolition. He asked if it made more sense to spend our time cleaning the windows of this house or getting out and making a real difference in the world.

In his concluding thoughts, Mike taught that it would take individual repentance and a commitment to personal holiness for anything to change. This is especially necessary among the leaders of local flocks. If the elders are not living lives of holiness, devoting themselves to sharing the gospel with others, and shaking off their own apathy, it will be an uphill battle when they try and convince others to do so.

So, with eternity in view, let us look for the soon return of our Lord Jesus and get to work.