After we are regenerated, we need to be transformed from darkness into glory (Figure 11). For this, we need to give a free way for the divine life to spread throughout our entire being. The more the divine life spreads, the more we are transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18). After being regenerated for a few years, we are transformed a certain amount, but each additional year we are gradually transformed more and more. Eventually, our entire being is transformed from glory to glory.
Transformation is more subjective than positional sanctification, to which many Christians pay their main attention. First Timothy 4:4-5 tells us that even our food is sanctified through the word of God and intercession. A piece of bread in the supermarket is common, not sanctified, but if we buy it, put it on our table, and pray and thank the Lord for it, it is sanctified. This sanctification is a positional matter. It is to be separated from the world unto God. Transformation, however, is something more. It is a change in nature as well as in form.
Freedom from sin (Rom. 6:18, 22), sanctification (v. 19), and transformation are three different matters, but many Christians today confuse them. We may be freed from sin but not yet experience our sanctification, and we may be sanctified but not yet transformed. A person who is regenerated may realize that he is still under the bondage of sin, so he reckons that he has died on the cross with the Lord (v. 11). In this way he is released from the bondage of sin by the power of the resurrected Lord. However, he is still not absolutely sanctified, separated from the world unto God. Perhaps after another year he consecrates himself absolutely to the Lord and experiences separation from the world unto God. However, he is still not transformed. He needs another change, that is, transformation in his soul. Moreover, when the Lord comes back, he will experience another type of transformation, the transfiguration of the body of the old creation into a body of glory. This demonstrates that sanctification is something more than release from sin, and transformation is something more than sanctification. There is a relationship among these three matters, but there is also a clear distinction between release from sin and sanctification, and a further distinction between sanctification and transformation.
In order to know the way of life, we must know transformation, because transformation is a matter of life. At the time of our regeneration we receive a little of the divine life, but if we cooperate with God and give Him the way, the Holy Spirit will work within us to spread, to increase, the divine life within us. First the Spirit fills our spirit with the divine life, and gradually He saturates our soul—our mind, will, and emotion. Eventually, when the Lord comes back, our entire body will be transformed from the old creation into the new creation to be a body of glory.
At the time we are saved, we are regenerated in our spirit. After that, we need to be transformed mostly in our soul. At times this spreading from the spirit to the soul influences our body. Sometimes we overcome our physical weaknesses by realizing the divine life in our body, as mentioned in Romans 8:11. Then when the Lord comes back, our whole body will be transfigured, transformed from the old creation into the new creation to be a body of glory. At that time we will be like Him (Figure 12). We will be exactly the same as the incarnated, crucified, and resurrected Christ (1 John 3:1-2). Every part of our being—spirit, soul, and body—will be filled, saturated, permeated, and mingled with the divine life. This will be the manifestation, the revelation, of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19). We will be wholly, absolutely like the Lord Christ in spirit, soul, and body. This is wonderful!
This is not a matter of reformation or regulation. Of course, we should not be loose; rather, we need to realize that after we are regenerated, what we need is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to give Him the way to fill, saturate, and transform us. This is a matter not of conduct or behavior but of transformation in life. The fallen man, who is absolutely in darkness, does not need reformation, regulation, or improvement; he only needs another life to come into him to regenerate him. Then from the time of his regeneration, his only need is to be transformed.
Transformation is not regulation from being proud to being humble. Whether one is proud or humble, he is still dark before God. Human pride and humility, and human hatred and love, are all equally dark in God’s eyes. Therefore, we should not try to regulate ourselves. If we say, “I am too proud, so I need to learn to be humble,” we are still in darkness. Even if we are the most humble persons, we may be in darkness the most. We may be full of human love, sacrificing everything for others, but we are still as dark as one that murders others. What we need is not regulation, reformation, or improvement but transformation in nature with the divine life. We need to be transformed into glory, into a glorious condition.
The accompanying charts are truly impressive and revealing. May the Spirit impress us so that we may know where we are, what we are, and what we need.
(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)