“…but be transformed…”
Living sacrifices are subversives in this world. Living sacrifices show that all the schemes of humanity are futile. Living sacrifices demonstrate that the only life worth having—the only life that actually is life—is one of radical availability to God. In fact, radical availability to God is the only path to full-fledged, image-bearing, humanity.
It’s here in our text: “Be transformed.” The word here is metamorphosis, which means become what you were meant to be. Again, this is a present passive imperative, which means we do not transform ourselves, but we allow ourselves—we make ourselves available—to be transformed by another. So who transforms us? And what is it we are meant to become?
Take a look at this passage from 2 Corinthians:
3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit…
…4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
So transformed into what? We see in verse 18, that we “are being transformed into the same image” which is the image of the Lord himself. We are to be transformed into Christlikeness, and we see in verse 4 that Christ is himself the image of God. In verses 7-10, we see what that looks like in this present life: “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
And who is the agent of this transformation? Verses 17-18 tell us that it is none other than God himself in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Romans chapter 8 answers these questions as well. The whole chapter is a description of the Holy Spirit’s work to transform the life of the believer. In verse 29, we read, “For those whom he foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”
This is God’s plan for humanity from the very beginning. His purpose in creating us was to put himself on display. We see this in the very first chapter of the Bible, where we read, “Let us make man in our own image.” God transforms us from dead, broken-down, sinful, semi-humans into full-fledged righteous humans that glorify him by being like him.
The promise of God’s word is that this transformation will be completed when Jesus returns: “When we see him, we will be like him” (1 John 3:2). Romans 8 tells us that all creation is longing for that day in which God will fully reveal his transforming work in the lives of his people.
But the process has already begun. And how do we get in on it? Well, we don’t do it ourselves. Our text says, be transformed, not transform yourself. Our part is simply to make ourselves available to God, to present our bodies a living sacrifice. Radical Availability to God is the only path to full-fledged, image-bearing humanity.