“Be Ye Transformed”

“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.”
—Romans 12:2

IN OUR TEXT, THE GREEK word rendered “transformed” is metamorphoo. It is closely related in meaning to our English word ‘metamorphosis,’ which is defined in “Webster’s Dictionary” in several ways. One is ‘a marked and more or less abrupt developmental change in the form or structure in an animal (as in a butterfly or frog) occurring subsequent to birth or hatching.’ In the insect world it is a transformation of the chrysalis into a winged insect. These changes, in the case of a butterfly, are first the egg, then the caterpillar, from caterpillar to chrysalis, and finally into the butterfly.


These changes are more complex than one might at first suppose. The caterpillar, for example, ravenously eats leaves, and its mouth and digestive system are adapted for this type of food. The butterfly, on the contrary, has a mouth which is suctorial in structure and function. This is located at the end of a small ‘trunk,’ and thus is well adapted to suck the nectar from flowers; and the digestive system of the butterfly is suitable for the assimilation, not of leaves, but of honey.

In the caterpillar there are scores of muscles, which in the butterfly are replaced by others of a form and structure entirely different. The caterpillar is earthbound, but when transformed into a butterfly, becomes an entirely different creature, for it can fly. This change from one form to another is not direct or instantaneous. There is that intermediate state, the chrysalis, the seeming death-like condition, which is a most remarkable phenomenon of insect metamorphosis in which the caterpillar is actually put to death. The process is remarkable, incapacitating the caterpillar for a continuance of its previous way of living, while preparing for its future existence as a butterfly.


We think that in this there is a good illustration of the manner in which we are being transformed as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. The basic condition upon which this may be successfully accomplished is that we be fully and completely consecrated to God—our bodies presented as a “living sacrifice.” (Rom. 12:1,2) Each faithful follower of Jesus is called out from a fallen, sinful race. The condition of the call is that the old creature be put to death, and that a New Creature—begotten by the Holy Spirit—be developed.

As in the case of the chrysalis, this is a remarkable process—‘incapacitating us for a continuance of our previous way of living, while at the same time preparing us for a future life.’ Day by day, through Divine assistance, we are transformed, growing in heavenly knowledge and the graces of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the “inward man” develops spiritually while the “outward man” perishes. (II Cor. 4:16) This process complete, we shall be exalted in the ‘first resurrection,’ to glorious heights, even of the Divine nature. We will then be privileged to reign with Christ in his glorious kingdom which is to bless all the families of the earth.

Mortal man cannot conceive of so marvelous a work and so great a glory, and we surely realize our own unworthiness of such stupendous Divine grace and mercy. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”—Eph. 2:4-7


Our present privileged position is being ‘in Christ’—“If any man be in Christ he is [not the same old creature but] a New Creature.” (II Cor. 5:17) We are being transformed by the renewing of our minds. A new mind is being formed, begotten not of the will of man, but of God—“Of his own will begat he us with the Word of truth.”—James 1:18

A special spiritual treasure is being developed in our earthen vessel, and the earthbound, grub-like tendencies are to be put to death. We are to “put off,” according to the former course of life, that “old man” which is corrupted by deceitful desires, and we are to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”—Eph. 4:22-24

During the chrysalis metamorphosis state the caterpillar existence is put to death, and at the same time there is a preparation for a new, and quite different, future existence. In this connection, how forceful are the apostle’s words, “If ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Rom. 8:13) Repression, mortification, death, must be going on all the time with respect to the fleshly mind, the earth-bound tendencies, that the new mind may be made manifest.


Our Heavenly Father asks from us a full surrender, full consecration, a nonconformity to this world, and a transforming to the kingdom requirements. Only then can God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, fully shine into our hearts by the Gospel, to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. This knowledge is not comprehended by the natural mind. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”—I Cor. 2:14

The veil of human-mindedness in the natural man hangs between him and the sacred and spiritual truths of God. The only way to set it aside is to make a full consecration to do God’s will, which is to sacrifice the flesh and its interests. It is in the glorious and privileged condition typified by the Holy of the Tabernacle that the consecrated children of God enjoy their real inner life, and walk with God. This is quite beyond the sight of the world and of the worldly.

In the ‘Holy’ we are experiencing ‘metamorphosis,’ or transformation. It is during this process that we are learning more and more that we ‘may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’ This ‘proving’ the will of God is a great privilege. The Greek word in our text which is translated ‘prove’ was much used in olden times in connection with the testing of metals. It means ‘to investigate, discern, examine.’ By careful tests, under close examination and observation, the metal was proved. So it is that we prove the will of God.


But just how are we to do this? One way is through the study of His Word, individually and with others. We all know the joyful experiences of gathering around God’s holy Word collectively. On such occasions we meditate upon the Scriptures, endeavoring to “rightly” divide “the Word of truth.” (II Tim. 2:15) With sentiments of prayer, praise, and worship in our hearts we wait upon the Lord, and he speaks to us through his Word.

As a result of our study we become assured of the wonderful truths concerning his will for us, for we have proved and tested to our complete satisfaction the good pleasure of God as he reveals himself through a great and glorious Divine plan. In that plan we find his provision for our being “justified by faith,” and how we received this standing of life before God as a result of our full consecration to him.—Rom. 5:1

We learn also that the church is “the temple of the living God” (II Cor. 6:16), and that the Lord Jesus is the “chief cornerstone” of this “temple.”—Eph. 2:20-22

We also come to realize more fully that the basis of hope for both the church and the world is in the fact that Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man—a “ransom for all.”—Heb. 2:9; I Tim. 2:4-6


We learn that the glorious hope of the church is to be like her Lord, to see him as he is, to become partakers of the Divine nature, and, with Jesus in glory, to assist in the blessing of all the families of the earth.

In the daily experiences of life we are to discern, try, and test the will of God. Our Father wills to be a God of love. “The Father himself loveth you.” (John 16:27) Surely we are daily proving this to be true. Have we not also proved the verity of the testimony, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee”?—Isa. 26:3

Then there is that wonderful promise, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6) All these promises are very precious, and in actual experience are ‘proved’ by those who are being transformed. So we continue to “walk as children of light: … proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.”—Eph. 5:8-10

The chrysalis metamorphosis is a complete mystery so far as human understanding is concerned. So is our transforming process as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. Paul speaks of “the riches of the glory of this mystery, … which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) Christ is being formed in us. We are “transformed into the same likeness, from glory to glory, as from the Lord, the Spirit.”—II Cor. 3:18, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

Just as the butterfly must use its own muscles and energy in order to emerge in due course from the chrysalis state, so during our transformation we must also strive, struggle, as directed by the Scriptures. While God is working in us both to will and to do his good pleasure, we also have to work out our own salvation. We must do this with great carefulness lest we fail of the great favor of God to which we have been called.—Phil. 2:12

May we then faithfully and humbly let our steps be guided by the truths we have learned, and by the Lord’s help press on to full victory. We know that this victory will only be attained by the complete death of the flesh. But let us have confidence that the Lord, who has called us to glory, will give us strength to be “faithful unto death,” and that he will fulfill his promise to give us “a crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
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