As Christians we are destined to go through a transformation; a complete change of life. Over time we have developed habits and defense mechanisms, some being violent and promiscuous, as a result of abuse or neglect. There are events that occur throughout our childhood and adolescence that are out of our control, resulting in the development of some shameful characteristics. Often these defense mechanisms can be misinterpreted as strengths, however in reality they are bricks without mortar; having the appearance of a strength, but easily crumbling by the most minor of offense. In today’s society, sadly including the church, psychological treatment and medicine have been used to cure these degrading attributes that we have developed, with very little success. For example, there is a rising trend of hypnosis treatment for cigarette smokers to “cure” their addiction to nicotine. However, at a much closer look they develop a different addiction, often to food. The addiction swung from one vice to another. There was no true healing for the person, rather a masking of a deeper issue that remains. The church is meant to be a place for people of all walks of life, gender, ethnicity, culture etc, to come and be transformed into something completely different from their previous state.
There are two types of transformation one is an indisputable transformation that is guaranteed to work in the person, the other is a fake transformation that is superficial. I will first address a true transformation, being of a renewed mind.
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (Romans 12:2) The Apostle Paul is stating that a person’s mind, attitude, and ideology is being renewed. By this renewal process we are transformed, through an alteration of the inner man, the conscience. The Apostle Paul instructs us to not be conformed. The word conformed, ‘suschēmatizō’ in Greek, means “to conform one’s self (i.e. one’s mind and character) to another’s pattern.”(1) This is when we no longer think or act as the world, or rather of the “the image of the man of the dust” (1 Corinthians 15:49). This is why the Apostle Paul stated that we are to “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” (Ephesians 4:22). Conforming to this world is conforming to our old man, our former conduct. Hence why the Apostle Paul reiterated this “put off the old man with his deeds,” (Colossians 3:9) and “our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:6).
We see here in the divine Scriptures that the sign of a person who has been truly renewed and transformed is their former conduct being completely demolished. Their former lusts of the flesh, attitudes, old ways of thinking and habits have changed, or have been renewed more precisely. Now ask yourselves this question with all sincerity, have I seen this process in the church? Have I seen this within myself? This is a transformation that cannot be falsified, nor pretended. One cannot simply “fake it till you make it.” This type of transformation in Greek is called ‘metamorphoō’ and denotes “changing into another form” (2). Upon further investigation it is speaking of a transformation from the inner man, and when the inner man is fully transformed the outward man will transform as well. Not just in a future resurrection, but in our conduct, in which people will see the fruit of Christ in our character.
The counterfeit transformation that we are warned of is a transformation produced by the devil himself. The Apostle Paul gives caution stating “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). This transformation is not one that transforms the inner man, which is only wrought by the power in the revelation of God’s word; able to wash us anew. This type of bogus transformation is discerned by the person’s fruit and not by mere appearances. When looking at this Greek word for “transforms” in the above scripture, we find that it is different from the aforementioned. It is the word ‘metaschēmatizō’ which is defined as “denoting change of place or condition, and schēmatízō, to form, which is from schḗma (G4976), shape, outward form. To transform, change the outward form or appearance of something.” (3)
Those who are religious and don’t understand how to bring a person from an earthly image to a heavenly one, only have the means to change the outward appearance. This type of transformation is a farce. Satan, nor his ministers; so-called apostles and prophets, are capable of bringing any true form of change. It is a masquerade. They can only change the outward appearance and focus much more on the outside of a person rather than getting to the core of their soul. That is what religion does; they offer pretended virtues. Ministries who come across people who are broken and offer only solutions that would only change the outward appearances, are bringing forth a false transformation.
Origen calls this the Antichrist who offers pretended virtues, that have a form of godliness.
“And I think that not only is Christ the Word and the antichrist a pretended word, Christ the Truth and the antichrist a pretended truth, Christ the Wisdom and the antichrist a pretended wisdom (deceiving the lovers of the Wisdom of God and the Truth, who refer all things to the rule of faith), but also among these virtues in which we live in relation to God, we discover that Christ is all the virtues and the antichrist is all the pretended virtues, because whatever they are, they are all appearances of the good that Christ has in himself in reality for the building up of human beings. The devil has all these in himself in appearance for the deception of the saints. And I think that the moral purity that the heretics have is the antichrist since it sends people into error so that they do not understand the moral purity in the church which is Christ. So too, against Christ who is mercy, the antichrist is mercy in those who perform acts of charity but not because of the justice of God.” (4)
This is not referring to the world, but to those within the church, for even the Apostle John stated that the Antichrist comes from within the church and is currently in our midst (1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:3). To think that this is an outside source from the world will be a costly mistake for those who do not heed to the warnings of Jesus and the Apostolic writings.
Origen explains the type of transformation we are to walk out and how this renewing of the mind takes root within us.
Our mind is renewed through training in wisdom and meditation upon the Word of God, and the spiritual interpretation of his law. And to the extent that it makes daily progress by reading the Scriptures, to the extent that its understanding goes deeper, to that extent it becomes continuously new and daily new. I do not know if anyone can be renewed who is lazy in respect to the Holy Scriptures and training in spiritual understanding, by which it becomes possible not only to understand what has been written, [M1207] but also to explain more clearly and to reveal more carefully. (5)
These are key steps to coming into a renewed mind. This does not take place by merely the Lord taking all our vices away. It is fallacy to say “I’m just waiting for the Lord to take this away from me” when in reality He is waiting for us to overcome these vices and renew our inner man to His divine image. It is only those who are too lazy to study out the Scriptures and seek the deeper meaning whose minds are incapable of being renewed. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and run the race to receive the prize. Nothing is given to us, we are offered the opportunity to become like our Father.
To God be the glory, amen.
- Thayer Dictionary ‘conformed’ (G4964
- Thayer Dictionary ‘transformed’ (G3339)
- Word Study Dictionary ‘transformed’ (G3345 )
- Origen-Commentary on Matthew
- Origen-Commentary on Romans