The Bible uses the word ‘transformation’ in reference to the Believer in Romans 12:1-2 as someone who has experienced a radical spiritual change, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” HCSB.
The word is defined as, “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure” and is used to describe Christ’s transfiguration. We must not separate justification (immediate transformation from death to life) from sanctification (spiritual transformation into Christ-likeness). These are separate ideas expressed in the New Testament, but are connected by the event of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
All of this takes us to Romans 7:9-25, “ Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life 10 and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. 13 Therefore, did what is good cause my death? Absolutely not! On the contrary, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. 22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. 23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.”
Returning 55+ years to 1963 I was a 14-year old 8th grader. My questions were simple and produced by Paul. I had no ideas what theology might have been nor any inkling about what my pastor was addressing as he was preaching through Romans. However, I recall his sermon found in Romans 7:14-25 gave birth to many questions. These questions were not answered until I entered seminary beginning in 1973 and not before many hours looking through scores of commentaries. However, I found no answers in those books. My answers to the following questions came only from the Word of God.
- How was Paul “being unspiritual and sold into slavery to sin?” as a redeemed individual?
- How was this redeemed Christian, Paul, doing that which he hated?
- How was this redeemed Paul controlled by sin and not by the Holy Spirit?
- How is it possible for sin to live in the Christian?
- How is “evil present with me?” In a Believer…
- How can God the Holy Spirit be powerless in the presence of the law of sin?
- How can a Believer be ‘wretched’ when the Risen Christ is Savior and Lord?
- Could Paul be two different individuals at the same time?
Paul answers, “Can any of these questions and more be true?” with 2 words, “Absolutely not!” in verse 13. I find it strange that many sermons I hear today are not in agreement with the Word of God, and that is very, very troubling.
Concerning the idea of serving two masters, Jesus spoke clearly, “you will love one and hate the other.” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:19-21, “What am I saying then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I do say that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to participate with demons! 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot share in the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” Our Lord and this Apostle make it certain that a Follower of the Christ is to be obedient to God alone for the body of the Believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we cannot serve two masters at the same time, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.”
Jesus is Lord.