Wednesday, July 10, 2013

But Be Ye Transformed!

In Romans 11, Paul writes about the disobedience of Israel and the mercy of God to both Gentiles and Jews. He says these things as if preparing the reader for ordination or a commission. In Romans 12, Paul implores us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice and invites us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. How? By His grace, through faith Romans 12:2-3. The balance of chapter 12 is devoted to "Christian living."

Though I stand firm that our behavior is so inconsequential as to be almost, if not altogether meaningless as it relates to our own salvation and sanctification, the way we relate to one another does play a part in our witness to others. Besides, after you've received this light, if you're like me, you're probably frustrated by those times when you revert to hurtful, destructive behaviors precisely because it obscures the agape of Christ you want to share with others. I'm hard-headed and no amount of self-discipline, will power or admonition is going to get me to change my ways. Sure, maybe sometimes, for selfish reasons I'll do what appears to be right but I'm talking about that righteousness (not my own) which comes from deep inside me.

I can't explain it but I have experienced the transforming power of Jesus. How do I know? Because, given certain circumstances, my behavior is predictable and I have experienced transformation in those circumstances. On occasion, I've witnessed it almost as if I'm watching it from outside myself. I freely admit, it doesn't happen as often as I think it should but nonetheless, it happens.

I wish I had a proprietary formula, I don't (other than that which you'll find in scripture), but I can say I never get this experience without having gone from Gethsemane to Calvary before my feet hit the floor in the morning; seeing an innocent man take my punishment then looking him in the eye before he hangs his head and dies.

Since Paul tells us that faith produces the transformation that grace makes available, how do we secure our faith and what is it that we believe? I believe that I'll have oxygen to breathe but that belief doesn't transform me. Paul tells us earlier (in Romans 10:17) that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Well, this Word, the following belief described by the prophet Ezekiel (36:24-36), for me has been transformational because it's consistent with and clarifies the Good News (emphasis supplied)!

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse youA new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do themAnd ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it.

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