As I sat by the window this morning with a steaming cup of good, strong coffee, watching the drizzle, the leaves continuing their spiral to the ground as the Fall season revs up and temperatures begin to nudge down, signaling the coming Winter months, I was impressed with how we are changed by God.
Romans 12:2 tells us… “…and be not 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.”
Conform in the Greek means: to fashion alike; conform to the same pattern; fashion [your]self according to. (Strong’s Concordance, #4964)
Transform in the Greek means: metamorphose; to change, transfigure; transform (from 2 Greek words: (Strong’s #3326 – meta, meaning modified; accompaniment; and #3445 – morphe).
We are most familiar with the butterfly – beginning its life cycle as a caterpillar, spinning a cocoon, and while wrapped in the cocoon, the ‘change’ takes place; exiting as a butterfly. Totally ‘metamorphosed’/transformed from one likeness to another.
When we are Born Again, we are metamorphosed from one likeness to another – from spiritually dead to now Alive in Jesus Christ. That is what takes place within our spirit-man. But what happens on the ‘outside’ of us? Not our appearance, as the transition from caterpillar to butterfly, but our ACTIONS?
Let’s go back to the Word for that answer:
In the previous chapters, the Apostle Paul, the writer of The Book of Romans, has been expounding on the great theme of Redemption, the guilt of all of mankind, our own inability to earn ‘favor’ with God, explaining how God sent Jesus to die for us and that the FREE GIFT of SALVATION through Jesus is by faith alone – not of works. Then, in Romans 12:1, he writes: “I beseech you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, (then to verse 2:) and be not conformed (shaped according to the same pattern) to this world but be transformed (metamorphosed – changed) by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
So the question then becomes: how is my mind renewed so that I can ‘prove’ (Strong’s 1331 ‘to test, by implication: to approve: examine; try’) to everyone I come in contact with how God has changed my life? ANSWER: OUR MINDS ARE RENEWED THROUGH GOD’S WORD! WE READ THE BIBLE AND ALLOW IT TO DETERMINE OUR LIFESTYLE; OUR BEHAVIOR; OUR ATTITUDE; OUR ACTIONS.
This personal example from my own life is a prime example: When we first got saved/born again, we had always lived in sickness and lack. If there was any germ around, we were sure to invite it right on in and we were sick with whatever was the seasonal ‘sickness.’ – flu, hay fever, colds, etc. But one day, we heard that Jesus is the LORD, our Healer – and we had to make a decision: were we going to continue to be sick? or were we going to believe God and be healed and live FREE from sickness and disease as an example of God’s goodness in our lives. We had lived with sickness for years… We decided that being well was better, so whenever those germs came calling, we would stand on the Promises of God. Soon, we were living sickness-free! And today we live in Divine Health and Healing!
The same situation was evident in our finances… living from paycheck to paycheck, payday to payday. We heard the Good News that God was Jehovah Jireh, the LORD our Provider, and we decided to find out what HIS principles of prosperity were. Now, let me say here that ‘prosperity’ is not necessarily being a millionaire. One of the ways God prospered us was we no longer had to pay for a doctor visit, or medicine… and believe me, that added up!
God’s definition of Prosperity is found in the Laws of Sowing and Reaping: 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “But this I say, he which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to all good work….;”
That is just ONE of MANY Scriptures where God speaks of a bountiful return on your ‘giving’. In Malachi 3:10, He admonishes the Nation of Israel for ‘robbing Him!’ Robbing God? Seriously? YES! In verse 9 He says that they have robbed Him! But in Verse 10, He tells them what to do – how to stop robbing Him: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in My house; and prove Me now herewith, says the LORD of Hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on you that there shall not be room enough to receive it….verse 11: And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, says the LORD of Hosts….”
Giving cheerfully; being faithful to tithe. God’s BLESSINGS will fall all around you. But, you may say, I don’t have anything to give… Remember the widow who gave the ‘two mites’ …(Mark 12:41-44). You say, but the Bible says she was a ‘poor widow’… but she and she alone got Jesus’ attention. He lumped all the others together in that He said of them: “…For all they did cast in of their abundance” (in other words, it didn’t ‘cost’ them anything to throw in a few dollars of their wealth. Jesus continued: verse 44: “… but she of her want did cast in al that she had, even all her living….'” Insofar as the Gospel writer is concerned, that is all we needed to know about the widow. BUT I GUARANTEE YOU THAT JESUS WASN’T FINISHED! HE NOTICED HER! HE KNEW HER HEART! Her needs were met according to all His riches in glory! We are not privy to what He did for her, but it was important enough for both Mark and Luke to include her in their Gospels.
Our obedience to God does NOT mean that we will have a life of ease, free of pressures, or stress, or even lack. When our attitude reflects HIS attitude, then He supplies our need (not our wants) according to HIS riches in Glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). There are a lot of preachers who will tell you that God will give you wealth beyond your wildest imagination; that if you want a Rolex watch, or a new car, or a new house, etc., just ask God… Unfortunately, they are perverting the Message of Redemption. The Apostle Paul was anything but living in luxury. He was beaten often, thrown into jail, thrown into the sea, once stoned so that everyone thought he was dead. The Apostle John was boiled in oil and eventually exiled to the Isle of Patmos. Some of the Disciples were beheaded, stoned, crucified, etc. No, we are not called to a life of ease but we ARE called to a Life in Him!
We are seeing an increase in persecution of Christians worldwide. Those of us in the United States NEVER thought we would see the rise of persecution of the Church like we are seeing today. We are called to STAND for Him in our lives. If we stand for Him, He will stand with us!
Read the Word and determine to make it a part of your life, so that your very actions display the Love of God. The sweeping move a number of years ago: What Would Jesus Do.. should be the determining model of your life situations today and every day. Not some squishy ‘feel-good’ sign but what determines your actions and reactions. Will it happen automatically? No… you will have to make that motivational decision numerous time throughout each day… and each day it will be easier… less difficult each time, until like a mirror, the world sees Jesus in you! WOW! What a goal! LET’S DO IT! And then, like James we will count it all joy when we fall into diverse temptations (James 1:2). That does NOT say we have to succumb to the temptations (because, believe me, YOU WILL BE TEMPTED), but instead you will recognize the plots, ploys and schemes of the enemy of your soul and THEN, because you have been obeying God’s Word, you will KNOW what Jesus would do in that same situation, and you react as He would. You will be an OVERCOMER! You will be MORE than a conqueror! SHOUT HALLELUJAH!