by Steven Chan
- God requires us to be transformed from conformity to the world, to conformity to His will (from being carnal-minded to spiritually-minded people – I Cor 3:1-4) unto to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).
As explained by the apostle Paul, in baptism, we were buried with Christ 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.”(Rom 6:6) We were then raised to walk in newness of life – in the sense that our past sins have been forgiven and we have therefore been born again, and also in the sense that we begin a new walk, a walk that is according to the will of God (Rom 8:6; Gal 2:20; Col 3:1-3). Unfortunately, the latter sense is often not emphasized or is quickly forgotten as “babes in Christ” remained in that same condition without the expected spiritual growth (I Pet 2:2; Heb 5:12)
- The transformation in our lives should be evident by the change in our behaviour. Paul wrote thus in Col 3:5-9: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”
Paul observed in 1 Cor 3:2-4: “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?”
- The “inability to receive solid food” (Heb 5:12- 6:2) being unable to understand beyond the elementary principles of Christ, is one evidence of lack of spiritual growth. We need to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18). When we grow we will always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that we have in us (I Pet 3:15). It also means that as “servants of God” we do “not quarrel but (are) gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Tim 2:24-25)
- Personal behaviour characterized by “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of the mouth or expressed or endorsed in social media” is also another evidence of one still being carnal or “walking as mere men” – one who has not been transformed in his life, although his past sins have already been forgiven when he was baptized.
It is disappointing that “anger and wrath” are often very evident in the lives of some who have pledged to follow the Lord. As James pleaded in James 3:10: “My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
The Bible counsels us in Prov 15:1-4: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. 3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. 4 A wholesome (gentle, soothing, healing) tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
- Transformation is necessary in view of what happened with God’s chosen people of the Old Testament, the Israelites. Paul warned that we likewise may not be spared if we refuse to subject ourselves to the will of God: “Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.”(Rom 11:20-23). Following from that, Paul wrote in Rom 12:1-2 on the need to offer ourselves as living sacrifices which necessitates us to be transformed: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be 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.”
That transformation must occur by the “renewing of our mind”. The thoughts of our minds must be made subject to the obedience of Christ: “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) Our renewal is “in knowledge” according to the image of Christ: “since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”( Col 3:9-10). God said in Hoses 4:6: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” While knowledge may puff one up (I Cor 8:1), yet it is necessary for us to know the will of God so that we may learn to do it (Matt 7:21; James 1:22).
Brethren, let us resolve to be transformed according to the knowledge of the will of God as we subject ourselves to His will and do that which pleases Him. Let us not remain in our former manner of life.