How we are transformed
I would suggest that Christian living is hard because we have never been taught to life the Christian life. We have been taught a lot about the Bible. We know a lot of Bible stories from the Bible. We could give you a lot of Bible facts. We could even throw in a few Greek words and several dates. But, we have never been taught, systematically, step by step, how to live the Christian life.
Imagine a Canadian caterpillar chomping away on a plant in September. You whisper to this caterpillar, “You better get started. Winter is coming.”
“Where do I need to go?” responds the caterpillar.
How far is it?
He doesn’t really understand how far Mexico is. He doesn’t understand 3000 miles. But he thinks to himself, “I am going to have to try really, really hard.”
3000 miles would be a long way for any animal to migrate, but for a caterpillar, it seems impossible. And, of course, it would be impossible except for one thing. God created a caterpillar with DNA that allows it to enter the tomb of a chrysalis for a few weeks and come out a butterfly. As a butterfly, it will just do what butterflies do. Every year, millions of butterflies make this 3000 trek to a place they have never seen. There secret is not trying really hard. Their secret is transformation.
This is precisely the word Paul uses when he says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is also the word Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 3.18 when he says we are transformed by beholding Christ (ESV). Other passages indicate other was that God transforms us. Here is a complete list, that will form the outline for this study:
• Transformed by training
• Transformed by the renewing of your mind
• Transformed by worship
• Transformed in community
• Transformed by habit
• Transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit
• Transformed by imitating a godly example
• Transformed by trying
• Transformed by faith
• Transformed by truth
• Transformed by pain
• Transformed by Sovereign Grace
Unless we have a working understanding of each of these principles, it will be almost impossible to live the Christian life. It won’t just be hard; it will be nearly impossible.
In many arenas of life, you have to do multiple things right to have success. For example, if you want to hit a tennis ball correctly, you have to understand…
• The proper court positioning.
• The proper stance.
• The proper grip.
• The proper back swing.
• How to put topspin on the ball. (Without top spin you have to hit the ball so softly that gravity has enough time to pull the ball into the court. If you want to stroke the ball with oomph, you have to know how to topspin the ball.)
• The proper follow-through.
If you get five out of six of these right, the ball will not go where you want it to go. Five out of six equals failure.
If you do everything right, but your grip is off by just a few degrees, the ball will not go anywhere near the right direction.
If you do everything right, but you are in the wrong position on the court, you won’t even touch the ball. You have to get everything right to have success. This is true of almost everything.
If three of four tires on your car have enough air, you won’t make it very far.
If seven of the eight pistons are firing properly the engine won’t run right.
If everything on the car works except the breaks, you will be in big trouble.
If everything works except the lights, you will be in trouble at night.
If you understand everything about how we are transformed except the power of the Holy Spirit, you will never live the Christian life.
If you don’t understand what the Bible teaches about the power of Habit, you will struggle. If you don’t understand the role of faith, Christian living will be difficult.
Josh Hunt, How to Live the Christian Life (Good Questions Have Groups Talking, 2017).