Life Transformation/Spiritual Formation
A primary aspect of God’s salvation is to transform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
“For whom He (God) foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” Romans 8:29
Jesus is the only perfect human being. He loves God with all his heart all the time and He loves people as deeply and completely as God does. We cannot make ourselves as good as Jesus is, nor does He want us to simply try to pretend to be good. He wants to make us truly good from the inside out.
This is why the Apostle Paul wrote,
“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2
The Greek word translated transformed is where we get our English word metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is the extraordinary process through which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Metamorphosis is more than just growth, or even change. It is radical transformation.
We cannot make ourselves good, but God can. God can transform us. However, we do need to learn how to cooperate with God in His life-transforming process.
There are six basic activities that accelerate and deepen the life transformation process.
- Exposure to and assimilation of truth
Truth is a life-transforming agent. The more truth we know (personally, intimately and experientially) they more we will become like Jesus. Jesus said it this way,
“If you continue in my word…you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32
Assimilating truth is like downloading new software into your mind.
- Practicing all aspects of authentic forgiveness
Sins damage the human soul. Education does not bring healing. Practicing forgiveness does! Fully receiving God’s forgiveness, effectively forgiving other people and sincerely asking others to forgive us allows God to heal the damage caused by sin.
Practicing forgiveness is like having someone repair damaged hardware in your computer.
- Resisting demonic influences
Demons are like hackers who are constantly trying to insert bad software into your mind. We must learn how to identify them, remove them and shut down their access points into our lives.
- Pursuing personal experiences with God
A few moments in the presence of God will change anyone. Sometimes God just shows up on His own initiate and changes people. However, He has also given us several places to meet with Him and experience Him…if we are looking for Him. We can experience God in what we commonly call the spiritual disciplines. (Prayer, meditation, the Bible, silence, solitude, giving, serving, worship, fellowship with other Christians, fasting, etc.) Spending time with God allows Him to customize us, just as we would a computer we use frequently.
- Making protective choices
The choices we make are like doorways through which we allow different influences into our lives. For example, the first time a person steals something makes it easier to steal the next time. We are changed by the choices we make, both good and bad. Making protective choices is like not going to internet sites that contain harmful software.
- Creating a nurturing environment
Our well-being is determined to a large extent by the kind of environment we are in. Environments that nurture physical health, emotional health, mental health, relational health, spiritual health, etc. are life-transforming agents. We cannot control everything around us, but we can control much, if not most of it.
Creating a nurturing environment is like placing your computer in an effective workplace, away from water, sand, heat and other things that can damage it.
Each activity has value in and of itself, but their real value is magnified when they are practiced in a balanced manner. Leaving any one of them out negatively affects the benefits of the others. The activity most commonly left unattended is the second one, practicing all aspects of authentic forgiveness.
Developing a lifestyle of forgiveness is essential to life-transformation and spiritual formation.