Look at what Paul wrote to the Ephesians. Eph 4:22-24 “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, (23) and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, (24) and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Notice the phrase true righteousness and holiness. In order for Paul to speak of true righteousness and holiness... he must have been aware of false righteousness and holiness.
If there is anything lacking in Christianity today, it is real... true... transformation. Real, true transformation is genuine spiritual transformation brought about by a deep abiding faith in redemption. Current evangelical doctrine causes this transformation to be still born before it can ever take a hold. The reason is that most evangelical assemblies demand read and do obedience. Read and do obedience is fleshly obedience. The current way that evangelicals are taught about transformation motivates fleshly reformation rather than spiritual transformation. Look at the two words and compare and contrast them. Reformation is the act of one reforming themselves and is primarily a fleshly endeavor. Transformation happens as the result of an outside force. In the disciple of Christ, the outside transforming force, is the radical love of God manifested in the gospel of grace. The gospel is the only thing that will bring about true transformation.
When Paul penned the words “and be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” what did he mean? Renew the mind to what? The answer... renew the mind to the gospel! Renew the mind to the mercies of God. How then does this work? How is it transformative? Well, quite frankly it is simple when you think about it. When one focuses on God mercy love and grace... especially in view of humanities great need... it actually causes one to love God very deeply. It produces peace from the realization and experience of forgiveness. This love and peace operates to cause us to feel closer to God. We acknowledge our connection to God via the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is precisely the way that we begin to participate in the divine nature. Participation in the divine nature is the source of transformation... real transformation.
Unfortunately, far too many saints are caught up in reformation... trying desperately to meet the standards set up by other saints and their particular denomination and leaders. This effort is 99% fleshly and this causes spiritual burn out and anger. It seems to me that so many saints end up being judgmental and very angry. They lack the life of Jesus in their day to day demeanor. Again, the reason is that they can only be *truly transformed* by their faith in the gospel. It never changes. We cannot outgrow this. It is not a one time thing. We did not get saved spiritually and then begin to reform ourselves by self effort after reading the scripture over and over again. Instead, we must realize God’s mercy and grace... really experience it over and over to have love consistently produced in us. God’s love for us is the transformer. It transforms us into loving people.
Here is where the body of Christ becomes important. When we meet it should be to reinforce the knowledge of God’s love and grace. That’s why Paul was determined to not do anything except preach the gospel. Yes, “Jesus Christ and him crucified” is another way of Paul saying I determine to teach and preach nothing but the gospel. We will look deeper into this transformation process over the next few posts.