The Greek word translated transformed in Romans 12:2 is metamorphóō. We get our word metamorphosis from this word. There is an interesting contrast between change that starts on the outside—conformed, and change that starts on the inside—transformed.
J.B. Phillips’ paraphrase of this verse accurately describes change that starts on the outside, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” The world squeezes us from the outside into its mold. God changes us from the inside out.
Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest put it this way, “And stop assuming an outward expression that does not come from within you and is not representative of what you are in your inner being.”
A butterfly is the classic example of the process of metamorphosis. There are four stages to a butterfly’s life:
These four stages teach us something about the process of being transformed.
The egg reminds us we must be born again
Butterfly eggs are tiny—about the size of a pinhead. Yet, if you look closely enough you can actually see the tiny caterpillar growing inside. There is life inside that tiny speck.
If there were no life inside, ideal conditions wouldn’t cause it to grow. If it looked like a caterpillar egg but was actually a tiny rock, warm weather wouldn’t cause the caterpillar to come out. Change happens because life is inside.
In a similar way, our growth must come from the Holy Spirit that is life within us. We must be born again to have His Life living within.
The Bible says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV)
Jesus warned, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’” Matthew 7:22 (NKJV)
Note the word, “Many.” Apparently it is a common thing for people to think they are saved and they are not.
Here is how a person is saved. God takes the Word—the Gospel—and uses it to expose us to our sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God shows us that He has made provision for our sin. On the cross, Jesus absorbed the judgment that I deserved. He became accursed because I was accursed. God offers forgiveness to everyone who will receive Him and believe on His name. (John 1.12)
I am convinced many church members are not changed because they have never been saved. We water and fertilize and cultivate and it is all in vain. It does no good because what we thought was a seed was actually a rock. You can’t fertilize and water a rock enough for it to grow. It must be changed into a seed. We must be born again. Change starts with rebirth.
I have just released a series of 13 lessons that go in depth into each of these principles. (One introductory lesson, and one lesson on each of the 12 principles.) If you are a member ofGood Questions Lesson Subscription Service, you already have access to these lessons. If not, they will be available on Amazon soon.
Click here to access Transformed by… lessons.
Kenneth S. Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961)
http://www.thebutterflysite.com/life-cycle.shtml Accessed May 5, 2014.