The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome: “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” (Rom. 12:2). The word in this text translated “transformed” comes from the Greek word metamorphoo (from which we get the word “metamorphosis”), it means “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure” (Thayer).
The import of the use of this word in this context is quite interesting. As Christians, we are to be those who are not conformed to, or cut out of the pattern of, the world. We have come out of the world through obedience to the Gospel; consequently, our lives are to be transfigured into something else.
Certainly the greatest example of transfiguration was given by the Lord himself. This same word is used in Matthew 17 and Mark 9 concerning Jesus’ transfiguration before Peter, James, and John. As one notices that account, it is evident that Jesus did not just appear to be different, but he was actually changed during this event. The same is expected of our transfiguration, it is not to simply be a supposed transformation, but an actual one.
Additionally, this metamorphosis has an originating point: the mind. Paul says one becomes transfigured “by the renewing of your mind.” The word “renewing” comes from the Greek word anakainosis which means “to renovate.” As Christians, the first thing that must change is our mind-set. When the standard is the world, anything goes. One can think whatever he wants, believe whatever he wants, and practice whatever he wants because there are no hard and fast rules. However, the Christian has to change that mind-set. The renovation of the mind comes with the recognition that God makes the rules and I must conform my life to those rules. As my mind is renovated, my focus changed, and my understanding increased there will begin to be a metamorphosis in my lifestyle. Nevertheless, as with all things, the change starts on the inside.
When a Christian begins renovation of the mind, it is evidenced in transfiguration of the person. He/she acts and reacts differently toward others; the things that he/she finds important in life changes; the places he/she is willing to go and the things he/she is willing to do are directly affected; the way that he/she dresses and talks is altered; the way that he/she approaches work changes; the way that he/she approaches God changes and these changes are open and apparent to everyone around him/her.
When an individual is transfigured friends, family, and co-workers still out in the world will notice the difference because they are still living in conformation to the world’s pattern. Peter talks about that difference in 1 Peter 4:1-4 when he writes: “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.” The Christian does not hold the same appeal to the worldly person once transfiguration has occurred.
However, there is one other matter of emphasis that must be conferred upon our thinking. If I have become a Christian, but nobody sees any change in me, have I been transfigured? The answer is no. If my life has not changed, if my decision-making has no new standards, if my life is still equally filled with the worldliness and selfishness that presented itself before I became a Christian: there has been no transformation; and there has been no transformation because there has been no renovation of the mind. We see an example of this in Acts 8:9-24 when Simon the Sorcerer is converted, but at the time Peter and John visit that town he has not been transformed. He offers the apostles money for their ability and is rebuked and told to repent because he had not adequately renovated his mind.
Have you been transfigured? Have you renovated your mind and gone through the metamorphosis of the Christian life? It will not happen all at once. One does not come up out of the water with everything magically changed. It is a process of focus, study, understanding and application that works to completely transform the self-serving man into a servant of God. If you have not undertaken the process of transfiguration it is never too late to begin, and the start is only a determination of mind and a change of heart away. Will you start today?