Updated: Nov 22, 2018
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!
The essence of Christianity lies in the miraculous transformation from death to life through the power of Jesus Christ. And the only way we can truly be transformed, is when God plucks us up from destruction, grants us His mercy and grace by forgiving our sins and giving us life (Ephesians 1:5, Romans 9:18, 1 John 1:9). This has been made possible because of the sacrifice of His Son by taking our sins upon Himself and dying on the cross—then raising back to life again on the third day (1 Peter 2:24, 1 Thessalonians 4:14). Jesus took our position by conquering sin and death on the cross, so that we can be reconciled to God and live with Him for eternity!
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
This transformation from death to life isn’t just some symbolic concept, it is an amazing life-changing pilgrimage.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
This is indeed a journey. It’s a continual committed responsibility to practice that which is right – walking in righteousness and holiness. Christianity is not a one-off event where you make a decision and then continue living how you desire. It’s not a frivolous matter like choosing whether you prefer a latte or cappuccino. Unfortunately by many, Christianity has been seen like this and people have hastily decided to follow Christ. The problem with this, however, is that many people haven’t counted the cost of what is truly means to be a follower of Jesus, and when they’re informed of what it really means, they don’t like the sound of it and aren’t interested in paying such a high price – therefore they reject the path to life and stay on the easy road.
Luke 14:27-30, 33
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ … So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
What’s most heartbreaking is that these people think they’re heading to everlasting life, not realising that they’re actually heading to destruction.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
The path to life isn’t a promise of having everything we desire, in fact, the Bible describes the path as narrow and hard (difficult). Two words we don’t particularly like to associate with, but nevertheless, if we truly love the Lord, we will count this cost and see that anything apart from Christ means nothing.
I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
So when we know the cost of being a disciple of Jesus, we are better equipped to walk the walk, understanding that we are not immune from problems and trials, but we have our heavenly Father who is always with us, and He will comfort us, help us and carry us through (Isaiah 41:10).
The word transformation means ‘a marked change’. So to be spiritually transformed by the Lord, means we change on the inside spiritually, which then manifests on the outside in how we live our life. We no longer live how we once did (sin; selfishness, pride, arrogance), but are now living according to the Spirit of God (righteousness; self-sacrificing, humility, holiness). We’ve been given a new heart.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
A transformed heart will exhibit one who is refusing to go their own way and is instead, living according to God’s ways – no longer holding on to the things of this world, but willing to lay it all aside in order to serve Christ completely … as the Lord commands.
1 John 2:4-6 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Although we will have moments of stumbling, if we are truly willing, Christ will help us to live a life that’s pleasing to Him. This life is not our own. God created us for His good pleasure and we live to bring glory and honour to Him.
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
King David made many mistakes, yet he had a heart that was wanting to please God, and this is why he was known as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). David was willing – the question for us today is, are we?
One who has been transformed by Jesus Christ wants nothing more than to please the Lord in all they do.
It’s not a chore to do right, but a blessing.
It’s not an inconvenience to do God’s will, but an honour to sacrifice ourselves for Him.
It’s not a vexation to deny self, but a joy to obey our Maker.
God’s children will choose to not live for themselves, but live for the Lord – surrendering all by letting go of the old sinful self, and clinging on to the new self, allowing our Creator to mould us and shape us as He desires – constantly being renewed by Him.
Colossians 3:9-10 … you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Like the church of Corinth, let us be like those who show themselves approved to God (2 Timothy 2:15), as ones who hear the Word and not simply see it as written words with ink on paper or engraved on tablets of stone, but receive the Word in its fullness by the Spirit of the living God, allowing it to change our heart from the inside out – with the evidence being how we conduct our lives.
2 Corinthians 3:3
It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Praise the Lord for bringing us out of the poison of sin and death, and transforming us into His righteousness through His Son (2 Corinthians 5:21), giving us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). We will always be eternally grateful.
-- By Jenny Ayling
--------------- This article was written to form part of the series, 'Imitate'. Containing 45 sessions, this thorough series intends to reveal the characteristics found in a disciple of Jesus. The original article, 'Imitate', would be the best place to begin your journey in discovering the qualities of a follower of the Messiah of Israel.