What is to be “transformed into the same image” of Christ? (Part 5) or What are we transformed from?

To be transformed intrinsically to the image of Christ, we need to eat Him. That is the only way to be “holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1) That is why only Christ is “the way, the truth (reality), and the life” (John 14:6) because He provides man with the divine nature. That is why the first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods beside me” because other gods can’t provide you with the divine nature. But to fully appreciate why we need to eat Christ, and not have a practice based on simple obedience according to our human flesh, we need to realize our true human condition. We need to see what we are transformed from. (I will talk about what we are transformed to in the next blog).

Since Adam’s fall, the nature of sin entered into man, assimilated into him intrinsically by his eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By knowing what in right and wrong, he gained a “confidence in the flesh,” (Phi. 3:3) believing that he can do all thing apart from God. Satan, the archangel, thought so too. He rebelled against God because of this. Realize our rebellion against God, is because of our confidence in the flesh. Satan urged us that if we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, our eyes will be opened, (Gen. 3:5) so we began to judge all things as better or worse, resulting in Cain killing his own brother Abel because Abel had a better sacrifice (Gen. 4:3-7). The ability to discern between what is good and evil and thinking we can do the good according to our flesh is the very nature of sin within us. Thinking that we are capable to doing better, to gain things that are better based on our own abilities, leads us to commit sins. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Rom. 7:18). The nature of sin took over Cain’s actions so he killed Abel. To cure us of this disease, we need to eat something else. We need to assimilate Christ as the tree of life and intrinsically transform our beings, having “no confidence in the flesh,” (Phi. 3:3) to express the divine life of Christ alone.

God, being holy in nature, sees our flesh as if it has been infected by leprosy. This was a shadow or illustration of our human condition.

Leprosy is an infection by a Mycobacterium, which targets our skin and our nerves, leading to deformities of the skin and deadens our sensations. When sin “infected” mankind, our flesh turned leprous. Just like leprosy, which has a long incubation period of 5 to even 20 years (an incubation period is the time between being infected to when a disease manifests itself in symptoms), as a child, sin lay dormant within our beings until we were taught the law. That is why Paul says, “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” (Rom. 7:9) The disease, which Paul was already infected with as a child, came alive in him when he learned the commandments. “For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” (Rom. 7:7-8) When we know what it is to covet, introduced to us by the law, our ability to discern what is better or worse made us covet. If we did not know better or worse, why would we covet? This is the opportunity that sin seized to produce in us all kinds of coveting. We begin to want what is not ours. That leads to actions that are sinful causing us to commit sins. This is the infection that has entered the flesh that is expressed as deformities. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Rom. 7:18-19) Just as in leprosy, due to the infection of sin, the expression in our flesh is deformed and leprous, and we become desensitized to the sins we commit so we repeat our sins over and over again. So “the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:19). This is our condition before we were saved (or if we did not understand the significance of our salvation and only practiced a ritual). “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’”(Lev. 13:45) wherever he goes because his flesh is unclean.

Before we were saved, “[Our] dwelling shall be outside the camp” (Lev. 13::46) because we were leprous. “Command the people of Israel that they put out of the camp everyone who is leprous or has a discharge and everyone who is unclean through contact with the dead.” (Num. 5:2) Realize Christ, as our priest, came down from heaven to save us. “And the priest shall go out of the camp,” (Lev. 14:3) as God did in Christ Jesus, leaving heaven itself, embodying divinity in human form, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped; but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phi. 2:6-8) Though we were leprous, God loves us so much that he came down to heal us. Today, no matter how leprous and unclean we are, no matter what sins we have committed, Christ loves us so intensely that he left divinity behind to save us. No matter what we are caught up in, Christ came to save us. No matter how ugly and unclean our situation is, Christ came to save us. All we have to do is call out his name.

When we call on him in the midst of our destitute, he will come. If you close your door and seek him with a pure heart, and desperately call on him, he will come as the life-giving Spirit to enliven you giving you hope again. When you say, “Lord Jesus, save me. I need you. Come into me and make me clean.” the Lord will come in. He will come into the deepest part of your being, your spirit, to dwell with you. It is that simple.

That is what happened to the leprous man after Jesus establishes what the kingdom of God is like in the Sermon of the Mount (Mat. 5-7). “When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, ‘Lord, if You are willing. You can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying. ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Mat. 8:1-3) If we simply ask him to cleanse us, he not only cleanses our cups from without, he will touch our spirit and cleanse us from within. It is that simple.

By calling on him, we have finally realized we are not capable, that we have no confidence in our flesh anymore. We must drop all our sense of being able to, so we do not take his name in vain. (Exo. 20:7) Realize all of us in our flesh is leprous, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) Recognizing ones own leprousness is one of the hardest things for man to do. We depend on ourselves, thinking we are right all the time. We give honour to ourselves and depend on our own methods of solving problems. For Moses, he spent the first 40 years of his life as a prince of Egypt, proving he was so capable in his own flesh as Pharoah’s sister’s son. He was a man with full confidence in his own flesh so God had to send him to become a simple shepherd for the next 40 years to unlearn what he knew. Imagine the change in his life and living conditions, from a royal prince to a simple shepherd, from everyone obeying him to tending disobedient sheep. It took him a whole generation, 40 years, to learn this humility. He had to lose his confidence in his flesh before God could use him. Then God called him from a burning bush.

Realize the burning bush is Christ. Christ came in the flesh, in a form of a man that should have been burnt by God’s holy fire, but he was not consumed. He came in the frailty of the flesh that should be burnt, but was not because he was sinless. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin…” (2 Cor. 5:21) That is why God’s divine nature did not burn him; rather he expressed God’s holy fire and spoke to Moses from the burning bush.

From the burning bush, God showed Moses three signs. To maintain focus, I will only address one of the three signs. “Again, the Lord said to him (Moses), ‘Put your hand inside your cloak.’ And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, ‘Put your hand back inside you cloak.’ So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.” (Exo. 4:6-7) After 40 years as a shepherd, unlearning the things of Egypt, God showed Moses that in his flesh, according to his own abilities, he was still leprous. When we put our hand in our cloak against our chest, we think we are really good. But God shows us that in our flesh, we are leprous. Moses’ strengths or weaknesses, if he depends on his flesh, are still leprous. That is why when “Moses said to the Lord, ‘Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.’ But he said, ‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.’ Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses…” (Exo. 4:10-14) When Moses relied on his natural abilities bases on his flesh, considering his lack of eloquence in the past and in the present, the anger of the Lord was kindled against him. Realize whatever our history, whatever we think we have done or not done, whether in the past or in the present, we have been given a new start by the Lord. His death on the cross has crucified every element of our flesh. Each morning as we get up, realize it is a new day, a new beginning, a day of the Lord, and a day of salvation. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) We can no longer rely on our own abilities or inabilities in the flesh. We need to depend of the abilities of the Spirit dwelling inside of us. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Act 2:4) Moses needed to learn that it is God that gives us utterance. We need the Spirit to work within us today to become our outward expression.

Today, both our strengths and our frailties, if expressed out of the flesh, are still leprous. That is why Leviticus 15 tells us any discharge from the body is unclean. “When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean.” (Lev. 15:1) Anything that we produce, if it is out of our flesh, is unclean in the sight of God. “Put no confidence in the flesh.” (Phi. 3:3) That is why we fail. We lack the simple understanding that it is Christ who must live in us and be expressed out off us. “Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5)

Call on Him. It is that simple.

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