The Transformed Life
“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” —Romans 12:2
Two little girls were washing the dishes one day. One of them was murmuring over her task, when the other said, “Let’s think about what we are going to get for Christmas, and doin’ the dishes won’t hurt so much.”
There is a law here in this little incident that is worthy of our close attention. It is the law of transformation by renewing. Are we to let circumstances, moods, conditions, rule us and weigh us down, or are we to find this spiritual law of transformation by renewal?
It is the wise thing in the conflict to understand just what the struggle is about. Now, when we are regenerated, born from above, we find that instead of having one life, we have two. One is the old life of the flesh, and this new one is the life of the Spirit. The life of the flesh delights in the things of the flesh, and when not pleased is very distressing to our souls. It generates gloom, doubt, criticism and bitterness. How can I escape this terrible condition? Why, by renewing my mind with the glad thought that I have another life that is not subject to bloom, doubt, criticism and bitterness,—and immediately I am transformed.
Here, for example, sits a man in his dingy basement, cold and damp. He can find no way to light it or warm it, when suddenly it occurs to him that the parlor upstairs is warm and light and clean, and he goes to the parlor.
Most folks would have us believe that it is our business to try to put lights in the basement, and warmth into its dampness, or, in other words, to struggle to reform our character and disposition. Is that the task you have set for yourself? How have you made out at it? Have you gotten the old basement (flesh life) light and warm and “comfy” yet?”
Praise God for the glorious truth that has come from His Word, showing us that all we need to do is to forsake the flesh, reckon it a dead thing, and go into the warm, light, parlor life, or the life of the Spirit. The Scripture promises peace if we go into the Spirit life. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
It was the mighty work of Jesus on the cross that made this new life in Himself possible. It is not an honor to His mighty work for us, if we think of struggling. He has struggled, and won the life for us, and offers it freely, and wants us to take as freely.
Dare to believe what His grace has purchased for you and has now for you in Himself. Take it by faith. Oh, do not try to work it out. Dr. Moffatt has given us a beautiful translation of a passage in the second chapter of Ephesians, the first ten verses. If you see what is provided for you in Christ it will transform you, and your faith will quickly grasp all He has gotten for you. Here is the translation, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you moved, as you followed the course of this world, under the sway of the Prince of the Air, the spirit which is at present active within those sons of disobedience, among whom all of us lived, we as well as you, when we obeyed the passions of our flesh, carrying out the dictates of the flesh, and its impulses, when we were objects of God’s anger by nature, like the rest of men. But dead in trespasses as we were, God was so rich in mercy, that for His great love to us, He made us live together with Christ (it is by grace you have been saved); together with Christ He raised and seated us within the heavenly sphere in Christ Jesus, to display throughout ages to come His surpassing wealth of grace and goodness toward us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, as you had faith; it is not your doing, but God’s gift, not the outcome of what you have done—lest anyone should pride himself on that. God has made us what we are, creating us in Christ Jesus for the good deeds which are prepared beforehand by God as our sphere of action.”
Can your mind for a moment contemplate these words, “together with Christ He raised and seated us” without being transformed?
You can look nowhere in this life in Christ and find the limit. When your mind is renewed by thinking that you need not walk in the flesh, but in the Spirit, you may stand on the shore of this beautiful life in Him and see no end to the possibilities, the glories, the victories.
A writer not long ago complained that life on the earth now holds no adventure. “Go where you will,” he laments, “on surface of things, and men have been there before you. We cannot have the pleasure of erecting the last house. That was long ago set up in the suburbs and our borders have literally been run to the South Sea. There are only two poles, and flags fly from them both, and from every terrestrial spot between—over Mount McKinley, over the River of Doubt. There is nothing now to cross.”
Thank God that in this life where All is Christ, there are no limits. There is always a new Mount Moriah, a new Pisgah, a new river to cross, and the mind that dares to turn from the flesh and to walk out into all the fullness of the Spirit, has vast fields of glorious adventure, and victory, and discovery. We are even entreated of God to know the largest things in Himself. Moffatt’s translation goes on at the seventeenth verse in the third chapter, to say, “May Christ dwell in your hearts as you have faith! May you be so fixed and founded in love that you can grasp with all the saints what is the meaning of ‘the Breadth,’ ‘the Length,’ ‘the Depth’ and ‘the Height,’ by knowing the love of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge. May you be filled with the entire fullness of God.”
Life of Power
David cried, “Uphold me with Thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways.” This upholding free spirit is operative within us, not only for defense against our enemy in the flesh, but is our offensive force that attacks the enemy. With Jesus seated as victor, we may sail the seas against our foes. We are not like the submarines, whose range of vision is extremely limited, and we must hide to do our work; but we can come into the open and make the attack.
A further translation of Moffatt’s from chapter six, verse ten, shows that God’s Word sends us to the heavenlies to make our attack on the devil and his hosts. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might; put on God’s armor so as to be able to stand against the stratagems of the devil. For we have to struggle not with blood and flesh, but with the angelic rulers, the angelic authorities, the potentates of the dark present, the spirit forces of evil in the heavenly sphere.”
And we are victorious, not because of our strength, but because we have been transformed into beings of power in the strength of “His Might.”
How wonderful to go about our daily tasks, transformed with peace and courage, even though the enemy lurks all about us, all because we are in Him. We can easily be transformed from fear, when we renew our minds with the truth that He watches all the days.
England has a great navy, but there has been little fighting on sea. Germany would have long ago sent its fleet out to attack the lines of commerce, but England’s big fighting force is lying up there in its mysterious northern base, and because of the great power in those hidden warships, thousands of vessels have traversed the ocean, freighted with thousands upon thousands of tons of cargoes and millions of fighting men and equipment for the Allies.
As one has said, “Even at that psychological moment, when the first hundred thousand were being transported to France, Germany refrained from a naval attack, which might have turned all the land warfare in her favor.”
Thank God, it is transforming indeed to know that the Captain of our Salvation is seated at the heavenly base, and Satan’s attacks upon us are limited.
Jesus is victor, His work is complete,
Crushing all enemies under His feet.
Jesus is victor—the foe from the dust
Never can rise again, if we but trust.
So “be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Struggle not, but walk into the finished struggle, the victory life, the peace, the rest, prepared for us by Him who loved us.
In the flesh life there is great love of self. Self-love is cross-eyed. It turns the eyes inward until, looking within in long periods of introspection, the soul becomes sad, and a disease known as the “blues” follows.
John Borne lived a lonely, tired life in his bachelor apartments at the rear of his blacksmith shop. The village folks thought he was strange, and had little to do with him, except to take their horses to him for shoeing, and their wagons and tools for repairs. He had little to say to any who came his way. So sad and alone his life became, that one day he closed his shop and walked by the brook. The small fish were leaping in the little stream as he walked its banks, and at one point where he paused the little fellows were trying to swim the falls. “You’re like me,” he said to them. “I want to get upstream, too. I’m crazy for something, and I don’t know what it is.”
He sat for nearly an hour watching some of them finally make the falls while others dropped back. “I guess I better go to another place in the stream of life,” he mused. “Maybe I’d be happier somewhere else.”
But he had lived long enough to know that life was more than a place, and so he thought of ending it all. “Have you caught any fish?” asked a merry voice from across the stream. The little falls had been prancing and dancing loud enough to drown the sound of footsteps.
“I have been fishing,” he answered.
“Please, John, help me across.”
To be called John by the new school-teacher nearly took his breath away, but he waded right out into the stream to the big stone on which she was standing, and lifting her up, carried her safely to the shore.
“Thanks, John,” she said sweetly. “What’s your other name? I only know what the scholars call you.”
He told her his name, and before another hour had passed he had told her his sorrow and his feeling about ending it all. “But I don’t feel that way at all now.” I wonder why,” he said, as simply as could be.
But we know why. Another life of love and joy, and freshness, and intelligence, and companionship had come across the stream.
The next morning the fire was easy to make, the iron heated quickly, and the smithy sang at every hammer stroke. He had a cheery “hello” for all who came to the shop, and the passersby looked in wonder at the new day that had dawned for John.
Oh, if earthly love can change the song of life, what cannot the great love of God in Christ Jesus do in transforming us? Jesus has come across the dark mysteries, across death, and offers to let us live—not with Him, but Oh, bless God, better yet—we are in Him new creatures.
Let His lovelight, His peace, His preparation for us, stand out boldly before us, and as our mind turns to Him in renewed thought and contemplation, we will not be conformed to the flesh, or this world, but be transformed,—yes, through His great grace—transformed.