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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not Conformed But Transformed

Transformed is a striking term.  It is translated from the Greek metamorphoo (met-am-or-fo’-o) from whence we get our English word "metamorphose".  The Greek word is used three other places in the New Testament and is translated "transfigured" and "changed".  Two of the places are in reference to the same circumstances.  So there are three occassions in which the word is used.

Matthew 17:2 - And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.



Mark 9:2 - And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.

Romans 12:2 - 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.


2 Corinthians 3:18 - 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.

The first two occurances are in relation to the same event, the transfiguration of Christ.  In both places the word is translated "transfigured".  The event in question sets forth the degree of transformation we can ultimately expect.

To understand the nature of what is happening here it is important to consider what Jesus said just before the account is related.

Matthew 16:27-17:2a - For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.  Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.  And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them. . . .


Mark 8:38-9:2 - Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.  And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.  And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.

This may be two examples of chapter breaks that are more harmful than helpful.  The natural continuity of the passage suggests that the Lord would come in glory and that there were some standing there that would not see death until they had seen the Son of man coming in his kingdom.  I have heard a good number of ideas about what is meant here.  It seems to me that Peter, James, and John were given a preview of Christ coming in his glory.  They saw him in his glorified state, how he would appear when he comes in the glory of his Father with all the holy angles.  It was in this transfiguration that his face did shine as the sun and his raiment was white as the light, shining, exceeding white as snow.
 
Peter, James, and John were given a glimpse of what we shall be like, the ultimate glory into which we shall be transformed.
 
" . . . and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
" . . . but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
 
This is the direction we are moving.  Moving away from worldliness unto glorification (christlikeness).
 
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 where the word is translated "changed" we have related to us the present process by which the transformation takes place.
 
"Beholdling as in a glass the glory of the Lord"  Transformation begins and ends with what we are beholding.  This is why when we see him we shall be like him.  The more we see him in this life the more we will be like him in this life.  As we turn our attention more and more away from the world and to Christ we will be transformed into that image.  We will be changed.  ". . . are changed into the same image . . . "  We are changed into the image we are beholding!
 
" . . . from glory to glory. . . "  It is the glory of the Lord we are to behold.  As we see more of him we are made more like him.  We love what he loves.  We hate what he hates.  It reminds me of what Lester Rolof said, "Stay close to Jesus and he will keep you sweet." And it will keep you holy, and compassionate, and merciful, and obedient, and uncompromising, and godly, and faithful, etc . . . .
 
". . . even as by the Spirit of the Lord."  The transformation could not happen any more than the regeneration could happen apart from the Spirit of the Lord.  Ultimately any good in us is because of his grace and mercy, it is a reflection of his work and power.  May his name be praised for the transformation!  Let us commit to beholdling and trusting.  Beholding his glory and trusting his power to change and transform.
 
Romans 12:2 establishes the personal responsibility.  God promises to change us in 2 Corinthians.  God reveals the degree of our ultimate transformation in Matthew and Mark.  God requires that we "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed . . . ." in Romans.
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