Is fulfillment at the end of the day a lazy-boy and a remote control? Is there no more to life than work, retirement and an RV? Many are content with these trivial pursuits, but a few seek a higher road. They prefer the life of the butterfly over that of the worm. They seek to enter the narrow gate and strive to obtain that which moth and rust can't corrupt. To those who seek to be thus transformed, we write.
ROMANS 12:2 And be not conformed to this world [age]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
"Transformed" in the preceding verse is translated from the Greek word metamorphoo from which we get the English word "metamorphosis", which depicts the transformation process of a tadpole to a frog or of a caterpillar to a butterfly. We need not grope around as human debris. We need not live in fear, or wander in a cloud of confusion. Our transformation awaits us.
The process is divided into three phases. First and foremost, we must come to the realization that there are indeed two distinct ways for man to go. We are not all one big un-happy family moving to the same final conclusion. There are indeed two totally separate paths that can be pursued. One is conformation and the other is transformation. Until that is realized, we will probably never begin our metamorphosis. There is a low road, and there is a high road and each of us determines which way we will go by the decisions we make. After we have recognized these two ways, choosing the right way is not all that difficult. But we must first distinguish between the two.
PROVERBS 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
The course of this world seems to be the right choice from man's perspective. The world's way appears to be the shortcut to happiness and security. It is the way of the crowd, yet most embrace it as their own personal way, as if they had invented it themselves. However, it is a well worn path which leads not to life but to death. We are called to choose another way. The forgotten way. The hidden way. The narrow way. The "way of truth".
The world's way and GOD's way are diametrically opposed to one another. They never merge, they never join. The world's way will never lead us to GOD and GOD will never direct us into the world's way. Following the world's way will only continue to conform us to its course. It will endeavor to draw us into its camp, bind us with its obligations and entangle us with its pleasures. Therefore, if we ever hope to be "made free", to become enlightened, to be transformed, we must determine to walk away, to abandon their camp and begin a pilgrimage into the wilderness.
This is the first great lesson unto spiritual liberty. Most everything the world promotes is for the express purpose of conforming us to its course. Thus our only hope to be set at liberty, to escape their serfdom and then find that true "path of life", is to first acknowledge these two ways and understand that they have two entirely different ends.
It is vital to realize that the world often spins a web of lies. We must reject much which they claim as truth. We must wipe the slate clean and begin again. We must set at the feet of our Lord and learn from Him, allowing His words to mould us as clay in the potter's hand. We must study His Sermon on the Mount, not only the many commentaries about it. We must consider His parables and seek enlightenment from the Author of our faith, and not settle for the wisdom of this world's philosophers. Ponder the messages of His apostles, not the creeds of the Apostolic Fathers. Erase the lies and begin to write anew the truth upon our hearts. The true way is hidden in such a way that anyone can find it if he will do one simple thing,
Simply obeying GOD's word opens the hidden way up unto us. The psalmist wrote, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (PSALM 119:105). The uncovering of that hidden path requires a light, which is nothing other than the words of GOD. Having those words of GOD illuminates our path. Then obeying those words is the process that carries us down that path. Thus, one has meager hope to find GOD if he is not following the words of GOD.
Yeshua (Jesus) repeatedly taught His listeners to not go the way of the world in seeking to acquire its comforts and securities, but go His way and seek instead the kingdom of GOD (MATTHEW 6:33). Then all these trivial things will be added.
However, it goes without saying that if we want to obey GOD's word we must first hear GOD's word. Then after hearing HIS word we must continue in it, we must meditate upon it until it eventually dwells within us. Too many, after hearing GOD's word go their own way. Having no endurance, they stop short of receiving the promise (HEBREWS 10:36). These are they who bring no fruit to perfection (LUKE 8:14). If one rejects or even neglects GOD's words, then GOD's way will no doubt become and remain hidden from him.
Thus, the second thing we must do to be transformed, after first acknowledging the two separate ways, is to continually consume a steady diet of GOD's word. As the psalmist again wrote, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (PSALM 119:11). Our transformation is accomplished, not by death or resurrection, but by reading, hearing, believing, thus obeying GOD's words.
Howbeit, when many read the Bible they wonder why it seems so difficult to understand? Perhaps Yeshua answered this question, when He said, "Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word" (JOHN 8:43). It's like the words don't sink in. One's eyes may read the passages, their ears may hear the words, but afterwards they find it difficult to understand what they've read or that which they've heard.
So, how do we hear to the end that we might understand? Yeshua said also of those who do not understand His words, that they have ears that cannot hear because their "heart is waxed gross [become fat]" (MATTHEW 13:15). The heart of the mind becomes fat in the same way the body does, too much junk food and not enough exercise.
Thus, the third thing we must do to be transformed, is that after we recognize the two ways and acquire a lean healthy diet of GOD's word, we must vigorously exercise our heart. Of course not physically, because He was not speaking of a physical heart. We must exercise the heart of our mind as we feed upon a diet that is rich in the word of GOD to be able to understand our Creator and discover HIS hidden way.
PROVERBS 2:1-5 My son, if thou wilt receive my words [the healthy diet], and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
How can we understand GOD and find HIS knowledge? By applying our hearts as if we were seeking after hid treasures. One will not realize his transformation by only reading the Bible occasionally or simply going to Church Sunday mornings. Understanding GOD's way must become the primary driving force of our lives. Thus, the pursuit must be with extreme diligence, for this greatest of all treasures is not just lying around somewhere, handed out freely to whomsoever happens by, but is securely locked away within GOD's treasure house. As the Lord revealed, "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath" (MATTHEW 13:12).
The mysteries of the kingdom of GOD are not common knowledge for all to know. GOD's ways are hid, but they are hid in the same way that the pleasure of work is hid from the sluggard or the same way that the sweet blessing of giving is hid from the selfish. The ways of GOD are withheld from those who "believe not", whose heart is "waxed gross" and who have not hid GOD's word in their heart. Those who obey not will hear not. Others who once had but now neglect GOD's word will most likely see HIS way vanish beneath their feet.
For those who do choose to faithfully obey the spirit of truth, the way of GOD will lead him through the necessary experiences to prepare him to understand the things of GOD. Anyone can be prepared to understand the "mysteries of the kingdom" if he is willing to commit himself to the transformation. But to become transformed, we must leave the course of this world. As the Apostle Paul reasoned, "What communion hath light with darkness?" Can they dwell together? No! Where there is one, there cannot be the other. We must leave the darkness to enter the light. Thus, we must abandon the world's camp to find Him who is "without the camp".
As we faithfully seek to understand GOD, we will gradually realize our transformation. It's a growth, a gradual process because you can't force a transformation, a "metamorphosis". Trying to force the change will only kill the butterfly, or at best result in a mutation. What we are responsible to do is feed the natural process. This is accomplished by feasting upon GOD's word and exercising our hearts to discern the two ways. Baby food and baby steps at first, but then as we mature, we will require the "meat of the word" that we may grow strong enough to "run through a troop" and "leap over a wall".
The experience of living life is a developing process. The seasons gradually change. A child over the course of many years grows into adulthood. The fruit of the harvest comes only after much anticipation. So it is with one's spiritual growth. Our heart is ever so slowly turned from the ways of the world to the ways of GOD. As with our physical life, so with our spiritual. From one's conversion through his re-birth into his "new creation" his life's experience is a transformation. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This is exactly what Yeshua taught, that entering the kingdom of God is a growth.
MARK 4:26-28 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
Likewise, when first given spiritual life, we brake forth as a tender plant from the dark cold earth to the warmth of the sun, yet we "knoweth not how". But as we are faithful to the process throughout the season, we will gradually grow tall and strong enough so as to produce spiritual fruit in abundance.
Unfortunately, instead of waiting to be transformed after finding the path of life, many converts choose to return to the world's camp, to the yoke of bondage and comfort of the grave. Thus GOD's word becomes choked by all the trivial pursuits this age offers. After we answer GOD's call we must continually choose whether we will be mastered by the word or by the world. Will we become transformed, or will we return as a dog to its vomit? As our Lord charged, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (LUKE 9:62).
In these studies we will explore this transformation process. We will examine how although many people are indeed called by GOD, it is apparent that only a few choose to answer that call. For those few who do answer, GOD by HIS mercy and grace causes them to hear enough of an accumulation of HIS word whereby when they believe they are "sealed unto the day of redemption". Arising from death, life opens up before them. Leaving the darkness they can then enter into the light. Escaping the bondage of Egypt, they can then dance in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free.
The two ways are set before us. Now it is up to us which way we will choose to go. Will we obey the spirit of truth or will we kick against the pricks (ECCLESIASTES 12:11)? Those who choose to continue in HIS word will gradually realize their transformation. Those who choose the way of the world will sadly continue wandering with the herd in the "way of death" (JEREMIAH 21:8) .
ROMANS 8:5-7 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The way of death is to be "carnally minded". It is to pursue and thus be conformed to the world's course. It is to chase their dreams and to desire their pleasures. But the path of life is to be "spiritually minded". It is to follow GOD's way. It is to hear HIS word, to obey HIS word, to love the truth and thereby become transformed.
One is not transformed just by saying he believes in GOD. Is the driving force in our life to seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, or is it to acquire physical pleasures and treasures? Do we spend our days accomplishing our own will, or do we seek to "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God"? This above all else will effect one's transformation.
But, before beginning our metamorphoses, we must first recognize the two ways. It is too early and we are too spiritually young to find the true way yet. That will come in time. After faithfully abiding in HIS word and enduring HIS graceful chastening, eventually we will discover that narrow way into life and realize our transformation.