“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
To be spiritually transformed into the image and likeness of God, we first need to have our minds renewed. In other words, our thinking has to change to be in line with God’s thinking.
After you become a believer and choose to follow Jesus, you go through a process of transformation that leads to a whole new way of thinking, acting, and being. This blog will explain this process in general terms.
Religious or Spiritual?
Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about my work and as I was explaining it, she asked, “Is it religious?” This got me thinking, what do people mean by religious? My feeling is that if I said yes, she would immediately lose interest and not want to hear another word. So, I said, “No, it’s not religious, it’s spiritual.”
Nowadays, it seems to be safe to say, “spiritual”, but not “religious.” I like to break down peoples’ mind-sets around certain words and concepts. Who knows what images and perceptions people have around the word religion? So, I know I must use it with caution. Let’s go a little further.
Is it religious? I wouldn’t say my work is religious, but it certainly is spiritual, there’s no denying that. But, if it were religious, would that be a bad thing for you? To be honest, religious to me is not such a bad word. For me, that means, the pursuit of God. Show me a spirituality without God – is that even possible?
What is Religion?
The Cambridge dictionary defines religion as …
“the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship.”
Can You Be Spiritual Without God?
It seems to be fashionable to be spiritual today, which is a good thing, but what do people mean by spiritual? I believe we are all on a spiritual journey and can learn a lot about the human condition through different schools of thought and disciplines, but that there is only One Ultimate Universal Truth.
After many years of seeking God, I found this one truth in Jesus Christ. I base all my work and teachings on the Word of God (The Christian Bible). I will of course use other resources, but they will be in alignment with the truth found in the Scriptures.
I don’t speak against other religions, but the work I have been called to do is to teach spiritual principles based on the Word of God (The Bible). I know it is politically correct to be open to all religions, but I can’t do that, because then I would not be true to myself, nor would I be true to my faith. I believe Christianity is the way to God.
My work is a form of applied Theology. Your faith is worthless if you do not apply what you learn. Jesus was very strong about this, saying, believers must practice what we preach.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:1-3)
For anyone reading this blog for the first time, I am teaching on how to move from a life of self, towards a life in the spirit. The bible refers to this as a the new life in Christ, where the old self is put to death and made new.
But, this dying to the old self is a slow and often painful process that requires lots of time and patience. You will also need new knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
Depending on where you are on your spiritual journey will determine how much dismantling has to be done. We all grew up in some family or home within some country and culture and were greatly influenced by that environment.
The first thing you need to do is question yourself and your belief system. What do I really believe in? Who am I? What do I know about God? And what is Spirituality?
At some point in our life, we all question the meaning of our existence, and most of us have a spiritual inclination in our soul for more, something greater than the self.
For those of you who have not experienced this longing, it’s possible that you are still looking to the world for satisfaction, but the things of the world will never satisfy your soul for long. You will never feel complete until you reconnect to God through your spirit. You will always feel empty and restless until you find rest in God.
Why do we feel so empty inside?
The emptiness you feel in your heart is the part that needs to be filled by God alone. God’s immense love. The love we experience in the world is conditional and no matter how nice it makes us feel, it is a poor substitute for the Agape Love of God.
What is Love?
The Four Types Of Love (Greek Names)
1. Storge Love: (empathy bond) – this is the natural love and affection between parents and children and siblings. It’s also referred to as family love. This love is based on familiarity, close contact over a long period of time. C. S. Lewis, the author of the book, The Four Loves describes storge love as a dependency-based love that is at risk of extinction if the needs cease to be met.
2. Philia Love: (friend bond) – this is the love between friends as close as siblings in length and duration. Friendship is a strong bond between people who share common values, beliefs, and interests. Lewis describes friendship as “the least biological, organic, instinctive, gregarious and necessary…the least natural of loves”.
“Our species does not need friendship in order to reproduce, but to the classical and medieval worlds it is a higher-level love, because it is freely chosen.” (Wikipedia.org)
C. S. Lewis feels that friendship is undervalued in modern society and even quite rare to find and many do not even know the meaning of true friendship. He goes on to say that friendships like David and Jonathan in the Bible are almost a lost art.
3. Eros: (romantic love) – Many scholars say, The Song of Songs is a love dialogue between a man and woman, praising and wooing each other and recounting the highlights of their love (erotic love), however, other scholars say it refers to the love between man and God.
For Lewis, Eros meant, ‘being in love’ with someone, as opposed to the raw sexuality of what he called Venus. He goes on to say how Eros in all his splendor…. could lead to evil and is not as neutral a force as ‘being in love’ is.
4. Agape Love: (God’s love) – unconditional
“The highest and most noble form of love is reserved for the love that God has for us. Agape, pronounced uh-GAH-pay, is what Jesus demonstrated on the cross for us by sacrificing his life and taking on the entire burden of sin for all mankind so that we could have life everlasting with Him in Heaven.” (GEB.tv)
Also called Charity, it is the love that exists regardless of changing circumstances. Human love is very shallow, it is limited, whereas God’s love is limitless. It’s never-ending.
This selfless love is the greatest of the four loves. Once we experience and know how to receive this love, all our other relationships will improve and be based less on dependency, but on a desire to love for the sake of loving.
THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS
Spiritual Transformation is Painful
People often think the spiritual journey is an exciting adventure full of such joy! Well yes, maybe most of it, but certainly not all of it. The path is full of peaks and valleys, and usually more valleys than peaks.
What makes the process painful is the task of blending spirit and flesh. To bring the part of us that is of a material nature into harmony with our spiritual nature.
This is what St Paul refers to as the death of the old man. The flesh (self) must be purified and refined so that it learns to obey the spiritually transformed mind.
The two natures (the flesh and the spirit) are always in conflict with one another once the soul has been regenerated. Before being born again, there is less conflict as you are still in the world and so a slave to sin. There’s no battle because the flesh is in control.
St. Paul talks about this conflict that he himself experienced, saying….
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15, ESV)
The spiritual path transfigures the very nature of our being. By treading the path we become an entirely different being from the personality which we were identified with before, undergoing a metamorphosis.
The long term goal is to transcend your lower nature that is completely self-absorbed and to be like Christ. It is in this state that you will be transfigured and the light will radiate out from you. This is as close to perfection as you will ever get in this lifetime. After death, you will transition on into eternity.
How will I feel when I am transformed spiritually?
When you are truly transformed, things won’t bother you the way they once did. For example, you won’t be offended by people’s nasty remarks, you won’t react when people mistreat you or disrespect you because you will no longer be living in the ego. You will be connected to the divine within, and see the world from a completely different perspective.
You will not be the same person. That old personality dies in the process and a new creation emerges, just like the butterfly emerges from the cocoon a transformed creature. Nothing is the same. The caterpillar is gone forever!
Ten Steps to Transform Your Life Forever!
1. Awareness – you know something is wrong and you start to take steps to find out what it is.
2. The Desire for More – a hunger for something more satisfying wells up in you. To ease the restlessness, you get serious about seeking answers.
3. The Search – you start to look for more meaning beyond worldly pleasures. Jesus said, seek and you shall find.. knock and the door shall be opened onto you. You start to educate yourself on the things of God. You might start to pray or meditate. This is still the exploring stage.
4. Meeting with God – after a while, you notice God starts to respond in different ways. Then you discover a relationship with the living God, who loves you and cares for you. You feel truly accepted for the first time and then there is a letting go, and you put your trust in God.
5. Education – at this point, God educates you by leading you to the right people, the right churches, meetings, etc. God accepts you just as you are, but loves you too much to leave you that way, so He will teach you in the way you should go. Welcome to the school of God.
6. Training – Now, you have to learn how to change. Yes, salvation is supernatural and happens by grace, but you have to co-labour with Christ in working out all the dark parts of your nature. The old man has to be put to death, but it is a long process because, the carnal man is selfish and without discipline and training, it will destroy you.
7. Practice – once you learn about God’s righteousness and holiness, you will soon come to see how un-spiritual you really are. God is so pure – all His actions are based on LOVE and his motives are 100% pure. There is no bad thing in God because as I said before, He is Light and Truth and Peace and we are all made in the image and likeness of Him. Imagine, I am made like God! I don’t feel like it, but it’s how He sees us, complete In Him. God sees us glorified and that’s what He wants for all of us.
8. Awakening – when you become more conscious or aware, the veil is lifted from your eyes and you come to see that the world you are living in has nothing to do with God’s world. But, there are glimpses of heaven here on earth, especially in the work of regenerated souls. People working in the kingdom of God are looking to bring good everywhere and to leave a fragrance of Christ behind them. We see glimpses of heaven here, but you have seen nothing yet, compared to what you will see in heaven.
9. Commitment to the path – once you have tasted life in the Spirit, you will not want to go back. For a few years, you will play with the idea of returning to your old way of life, but it loses its appeal after a while. When you experience God and this life, you will eventually make a commitment to it.
10. Serving God – it becomes your life and whoever God puts on your path is part of that life, sometimes to teach them about God, or sometimes to teach us what a life without God looks like, only sealing the commitment more. At this stage, listening and obeying God is the way you live. Sometimes you will resist, but by going your own way and seeing the results, you eventually see that God’s way is best.
God is pure and holy
“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3
How Do We Become Pure?
We become pure like Jesus through our difficult circumstances, we must let these trials and tribulations do their work in our lives, for St. Paul says, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). It is through these testing times that God purifies us, He is refining us so that we come out as pure gold.
The process of making gold and silver is the analogy that’s used to describe this process God puts us through because he wants to makes us pure and perfect, like Him.
Your heart must go through God’s refining fire to cleanse it of all impurities, much as gold is before it is refined in the refiner’s fire. The purpose of the refining process is to produce 24-karat gold containing no impurities that would lessen its value.
Can you imagine yourself totally pure and holy like God? Isn’t that something worth pursuing; to be transformed into His image and likeness? This should be the goal of every Christian, to transcend the lower nature, and live in our higher nature.
The Refiners Fire
“Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people].” (James 4:8, Amplified Bible)
To be set apart / To be made holy
Sanctification is God’s will for us (our life purpose). The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness. To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy. Jesus said to sanctify them by the Truth.
When Jesus referred to the converted ones, he said:
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
Sanctification in Christian theology is defined in 3 senses:
The first sense – is what’s known as Positional Sanctification – separation unto God, for His purposes.
The second sense – is referred to as Progressive Sanctification which is the maturing of the believer, the ongoing work of God in their daily lives. It’s about the application of the Word.
The third sense – is known as Complete Sanctification or ultimate separation from sin. It is also known as glorification.
What’s the purpose of going through this spiritual process?
The purpose of it is the purpose of your life. To be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ or for your death and life in eternity.
But, not only that, when you go through this spiritual transformation, you will feel amazing. You will have a full, happy, abundant, peaceful life, and the fears you once had will be gone, as you will learn to live with complete trust in God, the All-Sufficient One (El Shaddai).