Walls removed. Lights installed. The big reveal. A decrepit home is given new life and purpose. I love those home remodel shows, but sometimes I want to skip through the program to get to the final ten minutes. I want to see the pretty stuff, not the ripped up floors, asbestos covered walls, or burst pipes. Hurry up already, and let me get to the part where the home becomes a distinct and transformed space.
Transformation is a process and a metamorphosis. The difference between transformation and conformation is distinct. To conform is to be like someone or something. To transform is to change the condition or purpose of someone or something. Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:23 are key verses relating to transformation. Our hearts and our behaviors experience internal and external transformation.
Our minds, pre-Christ, have a particular mindset. There is an ignorance or willful suppression of the truth of God (Romans 1:18, Thessalonians 4:5, Ephesians 4:22), and a hardness of heart (Ephesians 4:17-18, John 7:17). In order to be transformed and not conformed, our minds need to be renewed.
An internal transformation doesn’t mean you avoid worldly behaviors by creating a “not to-do” list. Transformation is the triumphant power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ working in your heart. It is a profound, blood-bought, Spirit-wrought change from the inside out.
When we’re radically dependent on the Holy Spirit, and when our efforts follow his enabling initiative, our minds are renewed. God has a part, and we have a part in the transforming process. Follow these ten steps to be transformed into Christ-likeness, and not conformed to the world.
1. God Gives Us His Spirit.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control,” 2 Timothy 1:7. God gives us three important parts of himself to transform us. He gives us power to live for him, a love that motivates us to choose his ways, and self-control over our selfish impulses. Often the wrong kind of fear rules us because it’s a fear that drives us to please men rather than God.
Or it’s the fear that prevents us from trusting God when he calls us to step into something new. We become transformed when we know that God’s power resides within us, his love flows from us, and his self-control guides us.
2. God Guides Us into Truth.
“When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come,” John 16:13. God’s spirit helps us understand God’s truth in order for us to live righteous lives. His heart is written on ours as we read the Bible and meditate on the truths within the pages.
God will guide us into right-living because we’re righteous in God’s eyes. Let him guide you, one step, one experience, one moment at a time. Let your days be marked by tiny moments of transformation as you follow him forward into his principles.
3. God Brings Us from Darkness into Light.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,’” John 8:12. In order to be a light in the world, we must be transformed. If we attempt to stay in the dark while living for Christ, we’ll end up conforming to the world rather than being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Transformation brings us from darkness to light and in turn causes us to be lights in the darkness around us. It enables us to choose love and kindness over hatred and slander.
4. God Gives Us Wisdom.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given to him,” James 1:5. What does wisdom look like, and how does it affect whether we are transformed or conformed? God’s wisdom looks different from the world’s. If you follow the world’s wisdom in trying to live like Christ, frustration and futility will be your result.
God’s wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere (James 3:17). This type of wisdom will transform you from the inside out.
5. Accept Responsibility for Renewing Your Mind in Order to be Transformed and Not Conformed.
“When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commands,” Psalm 119:59-60. Get rid of selfish attitudes, negative ways of thinking and self-exalting thoughts. Guard your mind; what you put in is what you think about. What are you watching, reading, or listening to? It’s not about rules and restrictions, but about what’s going to help you be transformed. Read your bible so you know what God thinks so that your mind can be renewed.
6. Filter Your Thoughts.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” Philippians 4:8. A renewed mind leads to transformed actions. The eight items in this verse help us filter what we’re thinking about.
Is it true? If you can say yes, then ask yourself is it honorable? For an example, imagine a difficult co-worker, and you think, “That person is so rude.” This might be true, but does that thought honor the co-worker? If not, then that thought needs transformation.
7. Capture Your Thoughts.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5. A renewed mind equals transformation. Capture those thoughts and turn it into a thought that obeys Christ. Let’s refer to our recent example of the difficult co-worker. What if we were to take a moment to pray that God would touch our co-worker’s heart and give us compassion for them? We’ve just captured our thoughts so they obey Christ.
8. Fix Your Eyes on Jesus.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God,” Hebrews 12:1-2.
If we want to be transformed and not conformed, then we must fix our eyes on the right thing. The world is not right for us. Jesus is. Our eyes need to be so fastened on him that all we see is his love, his faithfulness, his concern, and his promise to never leave you or forsake you. He will guide you, carry you, and make a way as you fix your eyes on him.
9. Memorize Scripture.
The Lord reveals himself by the word of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:21). We are able to speak life into people’s lives if we know life-giving scripture (Proverbs 25:11), and Jesus used scripture and put Satan to flight (Matthew 4:1-11). Paul calls us to use the sword of the spirit in God’s armor (Ephesians 6:17), and the Psalmist stored up God’s word in his heart so that he might not sin against God (Psalm 119:9).
When we know God’s word, we are able to meditate on God’s attributes, and to give him thanks, admiration, and love. Our minds get washed in the word so we can live the Word as transformed people.
10. Make Jesus Your Lord.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” Romans10:9. Jesus is our savior, but he is also our Lord. Do you allow him full access to your heart as ruler over all of you? He saves you, but he wants to lead you too. Submit to him. Surrender to his will and his ways in your life.
The key to being transformed, but not conformed begins in our mind and heart. What we think about precedes what we do. Right thinking (which is God’s point of view), leads to right actions (how would Jesus respond), which then leads to right feelings. Transformed living means that we first change our thinking so that our behaviors change, and then our feelings will follow.
As you allow the Holy Spirit to transform you inside and out, you become a beautiful reflection of God to a weary world: a purpose-filled life no matter where you go.
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