2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us that “we are being transformed.”
Transformation is probably the current buzzword to restate the theological term “sanctification.” When I was in seminary, the definition that we used for sanctification came from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.
When we live our life self-directed, my pastoral experience indicates that many people don’t like the fruit of their own self-determination. They don’t like who they have become. They don’t like the results of their decisions and want to change. They want transformation.
Others that I’ve interacted with don’t like themselves period. This has alot to do with esteem issues and the accusatory tapes that play in our minds: “I’m not lovable, I’m unworthy, I could never be fill-in-the-blank-here.” They want to be somebody else.
The goal of transformation is found in Paul’s claim: “Into His likeness.” God has a purpose, a desitny, a plan for his transformation of us, that each of us become more Christ-like in our thoughts, attitudes, and action. Transformation of our character, our soul, and our life.
Part of the attraction of transformation is that it offers God given hope: You don’t have to be who you are. You don’t have to stay that way. Allowing God’s directed transformation in your life can change you over time (progression as Grudem says) into what God has created you to be (Ephesians 2:10).
Who is doing the work?
Though we are using a definition of “partnership” in transformation, Paul’s word choice here stresses the activity of God. We are “being transformed.” The verb is in the passive voice. God does the work. After all, God is the one who has pursued us with his everlasting love, God is the one who makes the offer of Christ to us so irresistable that we respond, God is the one who “makes us alive in Christ, even though we were dead in our transgressions.” It is God who is at work in us, both to will and to work (Phil 2:10).
On the one hand transformation is our pursuit. But it is also at God’s direction and purposes. By the Holy Spirit, God changes us. Its a divine partnership.
Paul states in 3:18 of 2 Corinthians: “with unvieled faces.” The context of the passage refers to Moses having a viel over his face. He metions that before we believe in Christ, there is a viel over our hearts and minds, and that “Only in Christ is that veil removed.” Our transformation begins with our surrender to Christ, our willingness to say “not my will, but yours,” our willingness to accept God’s plan and destiny for our life.
Spiritual transformation won’t begin until we reach this point. Even if we have doubts, we still can proceed in what limited knowledge we have about God’s promises.
Let me ask you this:
Is transformation part of your presentation when you present the Gospel?
* Grudem, W. A. (1994). Systematic theology : An introduction to biblical doctrine (746). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.