Life in Three Movements: TRANSFORMED

Below is the long overdue third and final installment in a three part series entitled “Life in Three Movements: Bound, Released, Transformed.” The first, “Bound,” and the second, “Released,” are reposted again just below this article.


We are utterly bound by sin and death. We are powerless ourselves to escape their shackles. But God had the last word in Jesus Christ. He achieves a moral perfection as measured by the law that is not remotely possible in us. The law is satisfied. And His Father raised him from the dead overcoming the penalty for our sin that the Son himself bore. Death destroyed.

Our predicament: BOUND by our inability to achieve what the law of God demands. Our redemption: RELEASED in Christ Jesus. So where do we go from here? We are released but are we any more capable of achieving the law, achieving in and of ourselves what the law demands of us? No! Not just no.  Absolutely “No!” Without exception “No!” So what is the point? Where is our hope? To whom shall we now turn?

From Released: Our job is now to yield to the perfecter. We yield to the Holy Spirit who is transforming us into the likeness of the Son (2 Cor. 3). Then we live into the law not by striving to be more like Jesus, but by being more like Jesus having been made that way by a power much greater than ourselves.

It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of our being BOUND. It is the Holy Spirit that helps us appreciate what it is God is doing for us in Jesus and then empowers us to say ‘Jesus is Lord” and avail ourselves of  being RELEASED. And the Holy Spirit is not done with us yet. Among his many works the chief work of the Holy Spirit is to make us TRANSFORMED into “his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”

Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 3:7-18. Here Paul is explaining what has changed between the old covenant and the new covenant. In his explanation is the answer to what has changed for us in admitting we are BOUND and in saying “Jesus is Lord” and availing ourselves of being RELEASED. In his explanation is what we should expect, a lifelong process of being transformed into the like of the Son who saves us.

First, by way explanation Paul explains that the Law brings with it a ministry of condemnation and death. He wholeheartedly affirms our BOUNDness. The ministry of the law is great. How much greater is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Here Paul identifies the major player. It is still God in the third person of the Trinity.

We immediately resist and would like to make it about us again. I’ll read more. I’ll pray more. I’ll strive more. All this is in order to do what I could never do before realizing I was BOUND and before having been RELEASED. This is the perennial challenge to Christianity, making it about us. It is no surprise that Rick Warren begins “The Purpose Driven Life” with these words: “It’s not about you!” The Bible is at its core a story about God being at work among His people. Our faith is first and foremost about what He is doing in, to and through us. In this chapter of life, the God Holy Spirit has the leading role.

And what will the Holy Spirit do? He will act upon us to transform us in to the likeness of the Son who saves us.  Now this word “transform” is not to be treated lightly. It is used sparingly in the New Testament. We find it first in the Gospels. Jesus is atop a mountain with Peter, James and John, when Moses and Elijah appear with him. Before their eyes, Jesus was transformed. His clothes “became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” The change was out of this world. Peter comments on the transformation (commonly known as “the transfiguration”) in 2 Peter 1:16-21. These instances account for two of the four times the word is used.

The remaining two uses come from Paul and apply to us. One use is found in 2 Corinthians 3. The other is found in Romans 12. In both cases they describe what is to happen to us in light of the mercies of God, having found ourselves BOUND and eventually RELEASED.

The word is metamorphosis. Caterpillar to butterfly and tadpole to frog capture the depth and radical nature of the change God intends to bring about in us. The butterfly to the naked eye could not have had its beginning in a caterpillar. I saw a cartoon once. It was remarkable. “The caterpillar says to the butterfly, I hardly recognized you after the extreme makeover.” Extreme makeover is the Holy Spirit’s goal. Remember, He is the player. We are being acted upon.

What are we being “morphed” into? The likeness of Jesus! Here the word is image as in whose image we were originally made and whose image is upon a Roman coin. That which bears the image of Caesar is to be rendered to Caesar.  That which bears the image of God should be rendered to him.

We are not being made to look like Jesus physically. We are being made to act like Jesus morally and reason like Jesus intellectually.  And this is so comforting because we cannot, by our own strength, get there from here.

What might that entail for us? Jesus didn’t fight but rather suffered without complaint for the welfare of others. Silent he was like a lamb before the shearers. He believed we should forgive not just seven times but seventy times seven (of infinitely the law wants to see the limit of 490 thus free to return our values on the 491st occasion). He thought more highly of marriage than Moses and subsequent rabbis and exhorted God’s people to return to the plan as God established it in the beginning (literally Genesis).

Wow that is how Jesus acted? Wow that is how Jesus thought? Despair overwhelms us because we have not forgotten that we cannot be that person. That is what bound us in the first place. But let hope reign! Because by the power of the Holy Spirit we can hit the mark as we yield to His transforming power.

And this transformation is with ever increasing glory. When we ask where is the fruit we are told more is available to us. This suggests a process, not a destination. For all our days He is working upon us to make a butterfly out of a caterpillar.

Now the transformation comes in the discipleship. It comes in knowing, loving and following the Jesus of Scripture.

We were BOUND. We have been RELEASED. We are being TRANSFORMED. This is our life in Christ in Three Movements.

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