TRANSFORMATION BEING GROWTH UNTO SALVATION
First Peter 1:23 says, “Having been regenerated not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through the living and abiding word of God.” Chapter two verse 2 says, “As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation.” After being regenerated, that is, born again, we become newborn babes who need to grow. Following this, verse 4 speaks of coming to the Lord, and verse 5 speaks of being built up as a spiritual house. To be born again as newborn babes is one thing, but to grow in order to be built up is another matter. The more we are transformed, the more we grow. The way to grow is by transformation, and the way to be transformed is the renewing of the mind, because the mind is a great part of the soul, which very much directs and governs our soul.
TRANSFORMATION BEING THE SAVING OF OUR SOULS
Transformation is the salvation of our souls. Our spirit was saved at the time we were regenerated, but by transformation our soul also will be saved. James 1:21 says, “Therefore putting away all filthiness and the abundance of malice, receive in meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Implanting is like grafting, as a branch of one tree is grafted onto another tree. Have you ever noticed that there is such a phrase in the New Testament as the implanted word? This is a wonderful, special term! James 1:21 likens the word to a living plant that is planted into our being and grows in us to bring forth fruit for the salvation of our souls. If we receive the implanted word, it is able to save our souls.
Romans 11:17 and 24 speak of grafting as the uniting of two lives, a poor life and a glorious, fruitful, and better life. In the same principle, when we receive the word of God, the word is grafted, or implanted, in us with the life of God. In the word of God there is the divine, better, uncreated, and eternal life, which is implanted in us. This implanted word with the divine life will save our soul. Our soul is a poor soul, but if we receive the implanted word of God, this word will deliver and save our soul from a poor condition into a glorious condition. For our soul to be saved means that it is renewed.
In Matthew 16:25 the Lord said, “For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it.” To lose the soul-life is to deny and reject the soul. If we deny our soul for the Lord’s sake, our soul will be renewed. When we reject our self, our soul—our mind, will, and emotions—we give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to take possession of our soul. Our soul is put to death, but the Holy Spirit comes to resurrect it. In this way our soul is renewed, saved, uplifted, and divided from the spirit. It becomes spiritual and not natural, full not of natural thoughts but of spiritual thoughts. We also become full of love, desire, and other emotions, not natural emotions but spiritual ones.
To deny the soul does not mean that we lose the faculties of our soul; it means that we save our soul. The more we deny our mind, the more our mind is renewed. The more we deny our emotions, the more our emotions are developed in a spiritual way. This is the meaning of transformation.
OUR NEED TO COOPERATE WITH THE SPIRIT
From the time we are regenerated until the time the Lord comes back, there is a long period for the process of transformation. We must constantly be transformed, but this transformation can be accomplished only by our cooperation with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is dwelling within us, and our old man has been crucified by the Lord’s cross; the Spirit helps us to realize this fact. Then if we cooperate with the Spirit to deny the natural mind, will, and emotions, He will take the opportunity and the ground to take possession of our soul, to occupy it, and to fill it with the Lord Jesus. In this way, we are renewed in the soul. Our soul is renewed, developed, and uplifted. This is the meaning of transformation, and this is also the meaning of growth. Moreover, if our growth is up to the highest standard, it is maturity. To be transformed up to the highest standard is to be matured in the spiritual life.
We have seen the dealings with the flesh, the self, the conscience, the world, and the spirit. Here we have seen the transformation of the soul. Our spirit has been regenerated and renewed. Now our soul needs to be transformed in life and nature. Then when the Lord comes back, He will transfigure our body. This is our full salvation. We have God’s salvation in our spirit, but this salvation must work through our soul, and it will reach even to our body when the Lord comes back. Today, however, we are responsible to be transformed by cooperating with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is now dwelling within us to do the work of transformation, but He needs our cooperation.
What I have presented to you is not mere doctrine. Rather, these messages point out to us the way to grow in the Lord and be matured. I look to the Lord that we will put all these things into practice. We must try day by day in all our daily life to reject our natural soul—our natural mind, emotions, and will. In this way we give the Holy Spirit the opportunity, the ground, to transform our soul by the renewing of our mind.
(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)