As disciples of Christ, we are admonished: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2). The word conformed means “to fashion alike” – to fashion one’s mind and character according to another’s pattern. Simply put, we are not to be like those of the world, who follow the world’s ways and adhere to its value system.
Rather, we are to be transformed. The Greek word here is metamorphoo, the root from which we get our English word metamorphosis. It literally means to transfigure or change into another form. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word this way: “to change in an important and obvious way into something that is very different; to change strikingly the appearance or character of.” This is the intensity of the change that is to occur in the Christ-follower!
This change can be likened to the metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Even a casual observer is able to tell the difference between the two, because of their dissimilar appearance. The same should be true of the Christian. Even a casual observer should be able to recognize from the Christian’s conduct and manner of life that they are very unlike those of the world (Mt 5:16; 1 Pet 2:11-12).
Also, the butterfly will see things very differently than the caterpillar. Because he no longer crawls along the ground, but flutters and flies through the air, he has a totally different point of view than the caterpillar. The Christian does too. Because he is a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), he now sees things through spiritual eyes—with a new and different perspective! (1 Cor 2:10-16; 2 Cor 4:16-18).
How is this amazing transformation accomplished? By the renewing of our minds! (Rom 12:2). When we regularly study the living and powerful word of God (Mt 4:4; Heb 4:12), the word of Christ will dwell in us richly in all wisdom (Col 3:16) and the truth we learn changes us as we are renewed in the spirit of our minds. We “put off” the old man and “put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph 4:20-24).
As the Holy Spirit works through the word of God, “we all, with unveiled face, behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord!” (2 Cor 3:18).