How We Can Be Transformed

This week's IBL Forum message is based on our studies of Romans 3, 8, 11, and 12.

By the grace of God, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, Jesus fills us with the Holy Spirit. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of God in Jesus Christ, Jesus keeps us filled with the Holy Spirit. If we turn from God and sin against Him, we need to turn back to God and back to obeying Jesus’ commands once again. Because we have grieved the Holy Spirit by sinning against God, we also need to ask Jesus to cleanse us and fill us once again with the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit’s guidance, power, and wisdom to obey God, to live pleasing to God, and to remain at peace with God and within ourselves. The Bible teaches Christians to “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). As followers of Jesus Christ, we can ask Jesus to fill us with the Holy Spirit whenever we begin a new day; then, we will be empowered to walk in the Spirit throughout the day.

We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds to receive the wisdom, power, and guidance we need to follow Jesus Christ and His ways more consistently (see Romans 12:2). The Holy Spirit uses the truth of God, the Bible, to renew our minds and transform us. Of course, we must read and study the Bible so the Holy Spirit can teach us new truths and help us apply those truths to renew our minds and help us become more like Jesus Christ from the inside out. As we study the truth of God, the Holy Spirit will transform us during a time of testing; then, with the help of the Bible and the Holy Spirit, we will be able to “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (see Romans 12:2).

The Bible teaches us to glorify God, and God renews our minds and transforms us as we glorify God. Consider the three ways of glorifying God listed below. By practicing these ways of glorifying God, we will be transformed, and God will lead us into even more ways of glorifying Him and making us more like Jesus Christ. Then, we can walk in the Spirit as a new creation in Jesus Christ. Study the three truths below and apply them to help you set your mind on the things of the Spirit and walk in the Spirit.

First, to glorify God we must know something about God’s glory. God’s glory includes God’s holiness. God is morally and spiritually perfect. Every thought of God is pure. Every action of God is perfect. God does the best that can possibly be done in every situation. Every action, word, and promise of God reveal God’s holiness. We fall short of the glory of God because we fall short of holiness. Our words and deeds have revealed that we are unholy. However, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, because of the grace of God, because we have faith in Jesus Christ, because of the Holy Spirit within us, because of the Bible that God has given us, we participate in the process of sanctification—the process of God making us holy and more useful in God’s Kingdom. And after we get to heaven or at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, God’s work of sanctification will be complete in us, and we will receive the glorification that God has promised believers in Jesus. In Hebrews 12:14, we read, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (NIV). By God’s work in us, God increases our holiness, and our holiness increases our desire to see God—and we will see God someday. We glorify God when we seek to live holy according to the Bible’s teachings while praying for the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to help us do so. By doing so, we will be transformed through the renewing of our minds.

Second, God’s glory includes God’s lovingkindness. Everything God says and does, has said and done, will ever say and do, expresses God’s lovingkindness. We fall short of the glory of God because we fall short of lovingkindness. In Romans 5:8, we read, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV). We fall short of loving sinners, especially those who have chosen to sin against us. We fall short of loving God and others. God never falls short of expressing His lovingkindness. Whenever God is merciful and just, or whenever God forgives sinners or passes judgement on sinners, God expresses His lovingkindness for all concerned. In 1 John 4:19, we read, “We love because he first loved us” (NIV). Because of the loving work of the Holy Spirit in us, called the process of sanctification, we will become more loving and better able to express the love of God in Jesus Christ to both saints and sinners. In Romans 5:5, we read, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (NIV). Because of God’s love in us through the Holy Spirit, we will more consistently—not perfectly in this life—express love to God and others. Someday, because of the lovingkindness of God, we will love perfectly. We glorify God when we seek to love God, others, and ourselves according to the Bible’s teachings while praying for the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to do so. By doing so, we will be transformed through the renewing of our minds.

Third, God’s glory includes God’s truthfulness. God will always say and do what is truthful. What God has revealed in the Bible is true. We fall short of the glory of God because we have not always been truthful. We have deceived people and we have lied to them. If all our lies were only “little white lies,” we were still telling lies. In John 3:21, we read, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (NIV). But we have not always wanted to come into the light. Sometimes we have preferred darkness to light, because our deeds were evil (see John 3:19). All of God’s warnings about the consequences of sin are true. Happily, all of God’s promises are also true. In John 16:13, Jesus promised Christians, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (NIV). As Christians, because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we will increasingly come to know the truth, be guided by the truth, live by the truth, and speak with truthfulness. As we prayerfully read and obey the Bible’s teachings, we will become more truthful. In John 17:17, we read part of Jesus’ prayer for us as Christians, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (NIV). Becoming more truthful as God is truthful is a result of the process of sanctification. We glorify God when we seek to live truthfully before God, others, and ourselves according to the Bible with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. By doing so, we will be transformed through the renewing of our minds.

Remember: “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” (Romans 12:2).

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May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

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Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.
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