Spiritual transformation isn’t about God ‘fixing’ our weaknesses but rather about removing them. His purpose is to make us new creations, not patched versions of the old. We must let go of the past and take hold of eternity He puts in us as His sovereign work begins to release His liberty and the beauty of Christ in and through us.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
It’s an incredible thought that every single thing in creation contains a measure of the eternity that is God. The seasons of rest and fruitfulness that govern the cycles of the universe indicate this eternal life through constant regeneration. Of course, it’s now limited by the fall which cursed the ground and everything of it. This truth is also a great encouragement to us who came to God as the ‘unlovely’ – the sinner trapped by our own sinfulness. When we consider the beauty and perfection of Jesus and the unutterable holiness of God, we must acknowledge that we cannot even come close. Yet God has a purpose for each one of us. Part of that purpose is to be beautiful, not for our sakes but for His. We receive the blessing of spiritual transformation so that He may be reflected in the world. Who and what we are is irrelevant.
Spiritual transformation and God’s plan.
From the very beginning, we were created in the image of God – as a reflection of Him. His plan was – and is – that when we look at other people, we see God and visa versa. To be in the image of doesn’t mean to be an exact replica of God. That is impossible. Aside from the fact that He is pure and holy and we could never replicate that, God is simply too vast for any single human being to reflect Him completely. The closest we could come is that collectively we manifest something approximating the completeness of God, but even this is limited. Add to that the fact that we are all different, created as individuals with varied characteristics, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, so we’re created to reflect certain attributes of God at different times and in varied circumstances. Only God can manage the complex details of it all.
Through the fall, the devil attempted to thwart the purposes of God so that we would reflect him rather than God. He’s done a pretty good job of it, too, and worked a spiritual transformation in us so we are more his son’s than God’s. But salvation was also God’s plan right from the beginning. He knew way back before time that mankind would sin and be separated from Him, and His plan included the cross. Through this, and in coming to Jesus, He works a spiritual transformation in us to restore us to His original plan and purpose. From the moment we are born again, we begin a journey back to the place where we reflect God as He intended. It’s a slow process of change and growth, but it’s accomplished by God Himself. He makes everything beautiful in its time, including His children.
Understanding spiritual transformation.
One of the most difficult challenges we often face in understanding spiritual transformation is the perception that God wants to ‘fix’ who and what we are. This is especially difficult for those who have been severely wounded or abused, because there is a deep inner need for justification. People who have been painfully wronged need to be vindicated – they need to feel that the past and what they endured wasn’t ‘for nothing,’ that ‘who they really are’ will be recognised and confirmed. This is the outworking of rejection and a lack of self-worth. We need to feel that our existence has value, and look to God to do this on our behalf. It’s a perfectly understandable response to pain and suffering but it can be an enormous stumbling block. Many are offended when they realise that God doesn’t want to ‘repair’ us. He wants to make us anew.
Holding onto the past becomes a way of survival. We hang on because one day, we’ll prove ‘them’ wrong, or we’ll be better, stronger, successful, and however else we measure validation. We keep the past alive because it makes us angry enough to keep going or determined enough to overcome. But the very first step in spiritual transformation is that God wants the past dead. He wants the past ‘me’ dead. He cannot resurrect anything that isn’t dead. If we desire that He makes us beautiful, it starts with letting go of the past and allowing it to die at the cross. This is often the hardest hurdle because it feels like we’re somehow saying all that pain and suffering is ‘okay’ and there’s no accountability. God wants to restore us totally and completely, but hanging onto the ‘corpse’ of the past simply drags us back.
Trust, faith, and spiritual transformation.
When we are born again, God separates us unto Himself. What this means is that He creates a spiritual division in our threefold nature – body, soul, and spirit. The soul (emotions, intellect, and will) and the body remain natural or of the flesh. The spirit is regenerated supernaturally with the purpose of new life in Christ so that it will retake control of the flesh. This is what it means to live by the spirit rather than the flesh. The spirit dictates and the flesh obeys. This division or separation is the first step of spiritual transformation. It’s a critical step because it enables our spirit to walk with the Holy Spirit who is the power of God in us to effect regeneration and transformation. This is also His sovereign response to our accepting Christ. When we accept salvation and the lordship of Jesus, this immediately follows.
From here onward, however, we need to exercise trust and faith for the outworking of spiritual transformation. The two aren’t separate and always work together. Trust happens when we yield the things we are holding onto, be they memories, emotions, plans, or reactions, habits, and thought patterns. We willingly entrust them or give them over to God. This isn’t on a loan basis but a complete yielding, though it takes a while for most of us to leave off snatching them back, even without realising it. We are able to trust God with these things because we learn faith that He will accomplish what He purposes. That purpose isn’t a spiritual band aid. It’s a total, complete regeneration in absolute liberty from the past. The good news is that we don’t need to rely on ourselves for either trust or faith. The Holy Spirit works within us to empower us.
Spiritual transformation is the manifestation of eternity.
A significant manifestation of spiritual transformation is that we begin to experience eternity in our thinking, faith, prayers, and praise. This is the ‘powerhouse’ of the purpose of God. He intends that we live supernaturally in His power and works to change our perception of circumstances to see things as He does. Eternity becomes our ‘home’ and our destination. We apply spiritual principles to natural situations. Where the world sees the impossible, we see the all things are possible with God. Eternity is the foundation of our liberty in Christ. When God places eternity in our hearts we begin to look past our limitations to the limitlessness of His supernatural nature and power. We live in the world but aren’t bound the world. The changes worked in us will always manifest eternal principles and truths that the world cannot understand or control
As we undergo spiritual transformation, we begin to look for eternal rewards rather than material ones. We desire the things of God rather than of the world. Most importantly, the eternity God places within us is His own Son. Jesus is the Word of God who will remain after everything else has passed away. This is the life that is already in us. It’s a free and gracious gift to those who choose Him. Eternity is essentially forever with God, but we have that within us already. That is what today’s verse means. It’s God’s fulfilled promise that His life remains and works in us to transform us into His likeness. As our relationship with Him deepens, we trust more and our faith is strengthened so that we release more. Whatever space is left when we let go a little more of the past, He fills with eternity.
Spiritual transformation is entirely sovereign.
What a wonderful encouragement to us. Spiritual transformation is an entirely sovereign work of God. He alone decides what and when and knows the perfect how. All we are required to do is walk with Him in trust and faith that He fulfils His purposes. Most of the time, we haven’t a clue what He is doing. We may even feel that He is doing nothing at all. But spiritual transformation is a deep and secret work of our sovereign, loving God. We may never know all the details of what He accomplishes in us. But we have the manifestation of His life and love to assure us that He is working always and perfectly. The reward of our surrender is to know Him and love Him more, and see Him revealed through us in unimaginable ways. From beginning to a perfect end, He makes us all beautiful in Jesus.
Lord, how wonderful is Your love which shaped a perfect plan for each one of us before the foundations of the world. Thank You that we can trust You to finish what You began and to transform each unlovely sinner into the loveliness of Your precious Son. Help us to surrender all and to walk in trust and faith, giving the past willingly and receiving eternity joyfully, so that You may be revealed in us.