Transformation for the Body Life, Life-Study of Romans, Message Twenty-Five, pp. 293-296
I. TRANSFORMATION FOR THE BODY LIFE
Before we consider 12:1-2 I want to give a definition of transformation. Transformation is a good word. In Greek this word includes the meaning of change, to have a change. Thus, the King James Version rendered this word in 2 Corinthians 3:18 as "changed" instead of "transformed." However, the King James Version translated the same Greek word as "transformed" in Romans 12:2. To render the Greek as "changed" is very inadequate. Transformation does not merely denote a change; it means that a substance is changed both in nature and in form. In English the words transformed or transformation also mean a change in both nature and form. This type of change is a metabolic change. It is not just an outward change, but a change in inward constitution as well as in external form. This change occurs by the process of metabolism. In the process of metabolism an organic element filled with vitamins comes into our being and produces a chemical change in our organic life. This chemical reaction changes the constitution of our being from one form into another. This is transformation.
Suppose that a person has a very pale complexion and that someone else, wishing to change his colorless complexion, applies some coloring to his skin. This, no doubt, produces an outward change, but it is not an organic change, a change in life. How then can a person truly have a colorful face? By daily absorbing into his body healthy food with the necessary organic elements. Because your body is a living organism, when an organic substance enters into it a chemical compound is formed organically by the process of metabolism. Gradually this inward process will change the coloration of your face. This change is not outward; it is a change from within, a change resulting from the process of metabolism.
According to the Bible, this metabolic change is termed transformation. In the process of transformation the life of Christ is added to our being. When His life, which is organic and filled with vitamins, permeates our being, a spiritual, chemical compound is formed. This changes our constitution both in nature and in form. This is transformation. It is not outward correction or external adjustment. It is absolutely an inward metabolic change in our organic element, a change in life and with life by the Lord Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). In the process of transformation the divine element is wrought into us. If we keep in mind this proper understanding of transformation as we approach Romans 12 through 16, we shall realize that this portion of the Word is altogether different from what our natural concept would lead us to believe it is.
At the end of Romans 8 the life process reaches its completion. In chapter one we were sinners, mean, vile, and filled with evil. However, after passing through several chapters and coming to the end of Romans 8, we have been sanctified and conformed as sons of God. What a difference! At the end of Romans 8 we have become conformed sons of God, sons beloved of Him forever. Thus, the first eight chapters of Romans unfold the life process which brings us all the way from sinners to sons of God. Then in Romans 9 through 11 Paul affords us a revelation of God's selection, God's economy, and our destiny. In that portion Paul helps us realize how God selected us, made us as vessels to contain Him, intends to fill us with all the riches of Christ, and has established an economy regarding the order in which men will be saved. After speaking of these things Paul is ready to speak about the practice of life. At the beginning of Romans 12, Paul is prepared to tell us how to practice the very life in which we have been and are being processed. The practice of this processed life is the church life.
B. The Body Life
1. The Practicality of the Church Life
We have already pointed out that the focus of Romans 12 is the Body life. The Body life is the practicality of the church life. Without the Body life, the church life is only a term. The church life is realized, becomes real, in the practice of the Body life. Christians today do have the term "church," but lack the Body life. As far as the Body life is concerned, there is a void in the experience of many Christians. Thus, there is the need for the real recovery of the Body life that the Lord may have His church built on the earth today in a practical way. This is the reason that we are so burdened for the Body life.
2. A Corporate Life
The Body life is a corporate life. We can realize this by looking at our physical body. Our physical body is a corporate entity composed of many members. All the members have their life and function in the body. If any member becomes separate or detached from the body, it loses its life and function. No member of the body can be independent of the body or become individualistic. We must realize that none of us as members of the Body can be a complete entity. Every one of us is simply a member of the Body. We need to remain in the Body for life and function. So many Christians do not have the riches of life and are unable to function at all simply because they are detached from the Body. Romans 12 reveals the importance of the practice of the Body life. It shows us that we are members one of another in one Body. We, being many, are one Body, one entity. In the Body we can function and express Christ in a corporate way.
It is a sad thing that today very few Christians have seen the corporate life or are willing to pay attention to it. Most of the seeking Christians devote their full attention to Romans 8, pursuing the experiences of the Spirit of life. But they do not realize that the experiences of Romans 8 are for the corporate life in Romans 12. God's goal is for us to live a Body life, which is a corporate life. His redemption, justification, and sanctification are for this goal. If we do not pay our attention to the Body life, we shall surely miss God's goal. To be redeemed, to be justified, to be sanctified, and to be conformed to Christ--all are for us to have the proper corporate life. We should not stop with the experiences of sanctification and conformation in Romans 8. We need to see that the experiences of sanctification and conformation in the Spirit are meant to bring us forward to Romans 12 that we may practice the corporate life. Simply to be sanctified individually or to be spiritual in an individualistic way is not God's way of sanctification and spirituality. Genuine sanctification and spirituality are for the Body life. We do believe that in these last days the Lord, in His recovery, has moved from Romans 8 to Romans 12. The focus of the Lord's recovery today is not sanctification or spirituality in an individualistic way, but the Body life, the church life, in a corporate way. May the Lord have mercy upon us that we may see this and practice it by the experiences of sanctification in the Spirit of life.