I have read books and articles about my identity, and an equal number of books on changing and growing or becoming a better person. As a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ, I want to be like Him.
One of the first things I did as a new disciple was to study all the passages in the epistles that talked about “putting on and taking off,” and adding to your faith.
However, I have learned that in all my efforts to “be like Christ,” that my greatest need my/your greatest need is to know who I am already in Christ.
A Crucial Truth
Reading and studying about growing in Christ-likeness is not wrong, but could put our focus on performance and achievement. A more lasting and effective change or growth comes from knowing who I am, whose I am and who God is forming in me!
Transformation by Degrees
The transformation of my nature and identity begins as I emerge from the waters of baptism.
Through this new birth, I am a new creation; saved; un-condemned; standing blameless before God; Spirit filled; and a child of God in the kingdom of light.
2 Corinthians 3:18 emphasizes the ongoing nature of our transformation. The “process of transformation” does not negate any of who we are as a new creation, but rather, it further develops the character and nature of Christ in us.
- “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Transformation Through All Things
Romans 8:28-29 reveals that our transformation into the image of Jesus is a direct result of the desire, good pleasure, and action of God. He is using his Spirit in us, His Word and “circumstances” of our life to work “the good” of being transformed into the image of His Son.
- “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son … ” Romans 8:28-29
Truth About Transformation
The word translated as “transformation” is the Greek word “metamorphoumetha.” Strong’s Lexicon defines the word transformation as a change in form. There are two important aspects of this change in form.
Transformation from Association
The first characteristic indicates a “change in form after being with.” Now for a disciple of Jesus that would imply we are changed through being with Jesus. We are changed as we believe in Him; as we receive His Spirit; as His Spirit works in us; and as we go deeper in our relationship with Him.
It is important to note in 2 Cor. 3:18 that this transformation process is initiated and maintained by the Spirit through our relationship with Jesus. This is not something I do myself, or even can do myself. We have all tried to effect change in ourselves with very limited success. This transformation occurs through my relationship or being with Jesus.
This is a truth. There were 12 men who “hung out” with Jesus for three years and they soon were defined by their relationship with him. We read that their close relationship with Jesus changed these men.
- When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
As I reflect on this amazing truth, I have to ask myself, “Am I hanging out with Jesus, or just visiting from time to time?”
Transformation in Keeping with Reality
The second characteristic involves “changing form in keeping with inner reality.” This facet of the definition of transformation encourages my faith and gives me hope.
This aspect of transformation is at the core of who I am. It involves a change of form inside of me. It does not involve my heritage, education, appearance, achievements or performance. It is all about the truth of who I am in Jesus, and who he is forming me to be.
This truth is seen in 1 John 3:2 and Ephesians 2:6-7.
“Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2
- Our nature and identity are changed and we are becoming more transformed in Him.
“ … God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 2:6-7
- Here we see our transformation from dead to alive in Christ and that we are already seated with him. This is an amazing truth, we need to think about the implications of this.
Our True Inner Reality
What does this transformation, this “change in keeping with reality” mean to me? It means I am currently exactly what God says I am in Christ. I am what God states in his Word whether I feel like it or not; whether others approve me; and whether I think I am living up to it or not. I am who He says I am.
Truths of Our Reality
For further study and meditation below are some passages that reveal who we are in Christ and who we are becoming. It is helpful to read these in the first person.
I am: a friend of God – Romans 5:10-11
I am: known by God – John 10:14
I am: no longer dead but alive in Christ – Ephesians 2:4-6
I am: no longer guilty but forgiven and blameless – Ephesians 1:4
I am: a partaker of God’s nature – 2 Peter 1:4
I am: a child of light – Eph. 5:8; Col. 1: 12-13
I am: the righteousness of God – 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24
I am: a member of the household of God and a citizen of heaven- Eph. 2:19; Phil. 3:20
I am: a new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am: chosen by God; a royal Priest -1 Peter 2:9
I am: an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ – Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:4-5
I am: approved by God, not condemned -Romans 8:1-2; Romans 5:16
I am: filled with the Spirit of God – Romans 6:18
I am: fashioned God – Ephesians 2:10
I am: becoming like Jesus – 2 Cor. 3:18
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6