We Need to Be Transformed
The image of Christ must be wrought into
our inner being
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
— 2 Corinthians 3:18
As we said on the previous page, the new birth takes place in an instant, the moment we believe in Christ. In contrast, this step of our Christian life, transformation, is not instantaneous. Rather, it is a life-long, day-by-day process that will last until the very moment we see the Lord.
And whereas the new birth, along with the forgiveness of sins, is God’s free gift to us by faith in Christ, transformation is not free. It is still a matter of faith, but a faith that strengthens us to take up our cross and follow the Lord (Matt. 16:24-27), so that we can deny ourselves and allow Christ to live within us (Gal. 2:20). This is why, in this diagram, we place a cross over the three circles, i.e., to show that the experience of transformation requires us to enter into the practical experience of the cross.
And what exactly is transformation? As we see in the diagram above, while regeneration is a matter of the divine life working in our spirit, to be transformed means that the divine life is working in our soul, that is, in our mind, emotion, and will. In this way, how we think, how we feel, and the decisions we make all express something of Christ, not merely us.
So, genuine transformation is not a matter or mere behavior, but an ongoing work of the divine life in our soul. Also, it is not merely a matter of sanctification, which to so many Christians means to live a life that is not worldly or sinful. Actually, the basic thought of sanctification in the Bible is to be separated unto God for His purpose (cf. Matt. 23:16,19). We may say that sanctification is, in a sense, negative, i.e., it is the work that prepares us what God wants to do within us, which is the work of transformation, for it is by the process of transformation that the image of Christ comes forth in our inner being and so prepares us to be with the Lord.