What then is the effect of sanctification? Sanctification is the cause, and its effect is transformation. Transformation is not merely an outward change; it is a metabolic process. Furthermore, transformation is by life; it is organic.
We know that metabolism is a physiological function; it cannot take place in non-organic things. Let me give a good illustration. Suppose someone has a face that looks pale. How can he make his face have a rosy color? Generally people would apply some reddish cosmetics to make the face look beautiful. But this is not transformation. Instead, this is similar to the work done in funeral homes. The reformation advocated by many moralists and religionists is just this kind of work. This kind of outward change does not involve the organic process of metabolism. However, if this person were to turn to the way of life by taking in a good amount of nutritious food and by exercising daily, this would improve his metabolism so that the new nutrients will replace his old elements. Thus, after a month the color of his face will become rosy. This is the meaning of the transformation spoken of in the Scriptures.
In the process of spiritual metabolism something new replaces the old element. What is this “new” thing? We said previously that sanctification is the addition of the element of God into you. The element of God is the new thing. When we are saved, our inner spirit has been made alive. This regenerated spirit, the inner man, is an organism. When the element of God, which is the Spirit of God, is added into us, the organic function within us is activated to discharge the old things and to replace them with the new element. This spiritual metabolism brings to us an organic transformation.
I grew up in Christianity and frequently listened to the preaching of pastors. While growing up, I also read some of the Chinese ancient books that had a special emphasis on filial piety, brotherly submission, honesty, and modesty. After reading these things, I began to put a question mark on Christianity. I considered this way: “The Bible speaks about loving others, and Confucian teachings refer to being forgiving toward others. What is the difference between the two?” In addition, one day a foreign pastor came and told us that the Bible teaches exactly the same as Confucius. After listening to him, I said to myself, “If this is the case, why should we believe in the Christian religion?” Because I was affected by what he said, I grew cold toward the Christian religion. Afterward, when I saw that the pastors also smoked and drank liquor, I felt even more convinced that there was no difference. Therefore, I stayed away from Christianity.
However, the Lord was merciful. One day He brought me back, and I was genuinely saved. After I was saved, I was puzzled about the difference between the “love” mentioned in the Bible and the “forgiveness” referred to by Confucius. For many years I did not get an answer. Then after reading the Scriptures and some good spiritual books, and after having some experiences of my own, I gradually realized that the forgiveness Confucius spoke of is the outcome of our being taught, while the love mentioned in the Scriptures is the issue of God living out from within us. This is not an outward doing; instead, it is the outflow of life.
One day this light shone upon me, and I was so happy that I became speechless. Hallelujah! That day I saw that the virtues in the Scriptures are not the result of man’s work or doing. Rather, they are the living out, the overflowing, of God from within us. This is what I saw initially. Then after some years I also saw that these virtues come from transformation. Tonight if you open yourself and let the Spirit fill you, you will be filled with love. To be sure, this love is an overflow, but it is still not the love that comes from transformation. It takes time to have the love that comes from transformation.
There are two kinds of genuine love that originate from God: one comes out as an overflow, and the other one comes out of transformation. The overflowing love is changeable. Today you might be stirred up in your spirit, so love flows out from you. Tomorrow you may not be stirred up, so there will be no overflow of love. Please allow me to say a word to the young people. I have observed that the young people can easily be overflowing in spirit by calling on the name of the Lord, and at such times you are willing to do anything for the brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, you have to know that although today you are overflowing, tomorrow you may not be flowing. As a matter of fact, you might even be “frozen.” At such times you need the meeting to fan the flame for you. After half an hour of meeting, your face will open up; after another fifteen minutes, you will thaw out; after another fifteen minutes, you will be filled to the point of overflowing again. This type of love changes very easily.
What is the love that comes from transformation? Forgive me for sharing my own testimony. Today it is not easy for me to be either overflowing or frozen, and it is even harder for me to be dried up. Today the love with which I love you is a love that comes out of my transformation. What is transformation? Transformation is God’s element being constituted into and mingled with our own element.
In the New Testament the word transformed is used in only two places. One is in 2 Corinthians 3:18, which says, “But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” This verse tells us that we should not have a veiled face. What is the veil? The veil is our concept. The early disciples held the concept of the law, which became the veil on their faces. The apostle Paul told them to break their concept concerning the law and turn their heart from the law to the Lord. Thus, they would have an unveiled face, and they would be like a mirror facing the Lord directly to behold and reflect Him. As a result, they would be transformed into the same image as the Lord from one degree of glory increasing to another degree of glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.
Another place transformation is mentioned is Romans 12:2, where it is even clearer: “And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.” Our mind is not the only part within our being, but it is the leading part. Therefore, here it mentions only the mind. However, when it says that the mind needs to be transformed, we know that the emotion, the will, and the conscience also need to be transformed. Every part within us needs to be transformed. How can we be transformed? We need to open up from deep within to the Lord and let the element of the Lord be added into us. After the element of the Lord has been added into us, we will not be transformed instantly; rather, it will take time for us to be transformed. The Spirit of the Lord as the element added into us moves within us, gradually permeating and saturating our mind. This is transformation. When our mind is permeated with the Spirit of the Lord, it is renewed and transformed.
In the same principle, our emotion, our will, and our conscience also need to be transformed in this way. Day after day, we are being sanctified on the one hand, and we are being transformed on the other hand. On the one hand, the divine element is being added into us; on the other hand, this divine element permeates all our inward parts, activating a metabolic function, an organic transformation, in each part. The result is transformation. At such a time, our love will not be the love as an overflow but the love as the issue of transformation. This kind of love does not dry up, and it cannot become frozen. We are not affected by the people, things, and matters around us. This kind of transformation is the mingling of the Lord’s element with our element, and it is also our becoming one with the Lord. “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17). This is a subjective experience.
(The Subjective Truths in the Holy Scriptures, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)