“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The Believer’s life is meant to be above what goes for normal living, but the sad fact is that few have any evidence that they have been transformed by the power of God. The words “are changed” can be translated as “being transformed”, which implies that new life in Christ is not meant to be static but always progressing to a higher level. The transformed life does not come automatically but demands action on our part to experience it. How can we partake of this transformation?
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
To walk worthy as Paul describes in these verses we must put effort into doing so. To live the transformed life is not natural to those who have no intention of pleasing God by living according to His word. Though fear of the consequences of disobedience ought not to be our motivation for pleasing God, it at least awakes our souls to the need. Surely all true followers of Christ want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”, rather than “Thou wicked and slothful servant” (Matthew 25:23, 26).
Transformation is not possible outside of obedience, for we can only reap its blessings if we sow righteousness and holiness. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22). If we are not walking with Christ then how can we be standing in Him?
“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
Are we willing for God to transform us into what He intends us to be? This means that we must allow God to do anything He wants with us at whatever the cost. This willingness must include sacrifice of everything on the altar of dedication, and it must be a freewill offering. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
We will not be willing or ready for God to do His work in us unless we are tired with the old life and have a deep desire for the new. This will include repentance for our past waywardness and an aching heart after sanctification. “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11).
This willingness has the determination to listen to and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit rather than the dictates of the flesh. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16) … “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). We will find ourselves walking in the Spirit when we pray, read and study Scripture, and fix our attention on the Lord. These help us to be sensitive to His voice as He guides, convicts and comforts us. He will teach us how to live the transformed life by revealing to us the changes that must take place in us. He will direct away from our sinful habits into a life that is full of Christ and power. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12). Once again, this demands an act of our will otherwise we will never be transformed. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:5-10).
The transformed life does not come automatically or else all Christians would be living it. Paul in Hebrews 5:14, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”, therefore it requires our direct involvement. Exercise speaks of effort not only for physical health but for spiritual health too. No wonder then the apostle writes to Timothy, “Exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). This is summed up in Philippians 2:12, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” The transformed life is available to all of God’s people and it is our responsibility to be in the place He wants us to be to experience it.