Greek: “metamorphoō:” Meta = with, after, behind. Morphoo = to form. To re-form, to change into something new.
A genuine “disciple” is one who is devoted to their highest aim in life: conforming to way of their master. To be a “Christian,” one merely needs to change beliefs and behavior. The dangerous thing is, this can be done with ZERO spiritual influence or connection with God. True discipleship is not based on improvement, but on transformation by death and rebirth – the death and destruction of the old man (our Adam nature), and the birth and growth of the new (Christ nature). That might sound strange, but I hope you’ll keep reading, because this is what Jesus and the apostles taught.
To understand this more fully, I’m finding the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 very helpful:
“And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven…And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
Notice two of the titles given to Jesus: “the last Adam,” and “the second man.” These are hugely significant. Elsewhere Paul wrote: “…we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died…”2 Strange as it may be, try to understand this: in God’s mind (and thus in a reality beyond the physical realm), when Christ died on the cross, all of Adam’s descendents died as well. Christ became the representative of the Adamic race; of all those who by birth inherited Adam’s selfish, blind nature. As their representative, when Christ died and was buried, all of those descended from Adam (you and I!) died and were buried. But when Christ rose, the old Adamic creation stayed dead, and a new, eternal creation rose and began in him. Thus, Christ is the “last Adam;” the firstborn, sole ancestor of a new eternal, holy, spiritual race. (Even if you or I can’t see this, it is true. God can give eyes to see to those who are willing).
In speaking of Adam and Jesus, Paul wrote: “the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” In God’s mind, everything which originated from the first Adam is “dead” and has been totally done away with. A relationship of external works/law is the “natural” way which came first, but is null and void since Christ. The second and final way is spiritual – the life of Christ, which we received in our “rebirth,” is to grow in us, and the life of the old Adam, received in our first birth, must be put off. Just as natural birth starts with a “seed” and under the right conditions gradually grows into a mature adult, so it is with our spiritual Christ-life. The process of salvation and spiritual growth is a process of transformation, not improvement. Again, this transformation takes place as everything of Adam is put off and Christ is put on. However, it’s not about us doing something, it’s about having our eyes opened to the present reality of our Adamic nature being dead and our spirit being made alive by union with the life of Christ, and conforming to what’s already accomplished and finished. This isn’t easy or automatic. It requires seeking God for Truth and sight, and it requires our “death,” negating everything we valued, obtained, earned, or believed, and letting the new nature of Christ be the source of our values, beliefs, actions, and everything else. I still feel as if I’ve barely begun this process, but I’m seeing it.
In the verses below, the same rare Greek word, metamorphoo, is used for “transform” and “transfigure.” The meaning is very similar to the English word metamorphosis – a radical change from one form to another.
- “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”3
- “And 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.”4
- “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 by the Spirit of the Lord.”5 -We are being transformed; a process of seeing, agreeing with, and yielding to God’s view of all things in Christ Jesus.
The seed, containing all the potential for complete transformation, is already within true believers. It’s the implantation of the word of God, the life of Christ, in our heart. We allow that seed to grow, from glory to glory, as our mind comes to see and agree with Truth, the reality of Christ in us as our life, the deadness of Adam/our old life, and as we see and understand more and more of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This process is our salvation, deliverance, hope, change, duty and sacrifice. Transformation from Adam to Christ is what a disciple will devote himself to. Amen.
- Luke 2:52
- 2 Corinthians 5:14
- Matthew 17:2
- Romans 12:2
- 2 Corinthians 3:18