What A Transformation!
Read Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.
How have you been transformed since you became a believer in Christ? If you had before and after pictures, what would be different about your life?
Our society is fixated on transformations. From make-overs and weight-loss to home renovations, we love a good “before and after” story. We live for progress and improvement!
But one of the greatest before and after stories is in the Bible and it is of the apostle Paul. In Paul’s “before Jesus” photos, we see him approving of the stoning death of Stephen in Acts 8:1-3. We see him persecuting the church and raiding houses to drag Christians off to prison. In Acts 9:1, he was still “breathing treats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.”
But Paul’s “after Jesus” pictures are remarkable! After his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God and amazed the disciples with his change of heart (Acts 9:20-22). In Acts, we see several snapshots of his missionary journeys in which he traveled all over the Mediterranean, teaching, preaching, and planting churches. He became the most prolific New Testament author with 13 epistles attributed to him. The impact of his inspired writings on the body of Christ is immeasurable and on-going. What a transformation!
If Paul’s transformation happened today, in a culture that values “self-help,” we’d all be wondering, “how did he do it? How did he change like that?” But we see Paul’s answer in today’s verses—“by the mercies of God.” Paul did not transform himself. It was a work of God.
Paul confirmed this in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10: “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” He knew that his conversion was a free and undeserved gift of grace from God. But because of this incredible gift of God’s mercy and grace, Paul got to work and implored the believers in Rome to do the same.
He urged them to fully submit to Christ by presenting their bodies as living sacrifices to God. In the Old Testament, believers would sacrifice animals in worship to the Lord. Now, Paul says that we worship Christ when we give Him our whole lives and live in obedience to Him. But, he says that transforming our external behavior is a process that starts with transforming our minds.
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them… But that is not the way you learned in Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:17-18, 20-24).
Friends, if you are in Christ, you can also experience this amazing transformation by allowing God to renew your mind. When we read our Bibles and allow the Scriptures to teach us the truth of His Word, it changes our minds which changes our lives. I encourage you to commit to spending daily time in the Word this year and then reflect on how you’ve grown and matured. By this time next year, you’ll look at yourself and think, “What a transformation!”
Lord, thank You for the change You worked in me according to Your mercy and grace. Please continue to transform my life by renewing my mind through Your Word. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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