Being changed into the image of Jesus
A miracle can happen to you, like the transformation that
happens when a worm is transformed into a butterfly
(2 Corinthians 3:18).
Part of understanding how to become a partaker of the divine nature is to
realize that this transformation doesn’t all happen in an instant of time.
You may remember that in the Introduction I said that there were two great
gifts that the Lord Jesus Christ provided for us, and that the second one
(the process of being changed into the image of Jesus) is a process, not a
In order to understand how this works, you need to understand what you
are like inside. A subtle but profound misunderstanding of what we are
like inside, below our level of consciousness, has made it difficult for
many Christians to see how there can be sin inside us. There is a
prevalent view that implies that inside you are like a jar, a container with a
single compartment. Therefore, when you gave your life to Jesus, He
forgives your sins and you are filled with His Spirit. Because He is in
there, the jar is now clean. The implication in this view is that now that
you are pure on the inside, you should be able to act pure on the outside
There are several reasons this view is erroneous. First, unfortunately,
this is never the way it works. I know of no one, including myself, for
whom life has been this way. Second, it was not that way for Paul when he
wrote the book of Romans (specifically Chapter 7) for us. Third, if all of
our sins were washed away by the one-time event, the ongoing process
would be unnecessary.
The truth is that inside we are more like a honeycomb than a honey jar.
We have many compartments inside, not just one. Some of the
compartments contain Jesus, and those are like the "good roots" referred
to in Scripture, and which I referred to in the prior chapter. These “good
roots” produce “good fruit.”
"Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree
bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor
can a bad tree bear good fruit. A good tree cannot bear
bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. . . Therefore
by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew 7:17-18, 20).
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness (Galatians 5:22-23).
After a person makes Jesus his or her Lord, some of the compartments
still contain “bad roots.” These “bad roots” produce “bad fruit,” as I have
previously mentioned; and they are still present and continue to produce
“bad fruit” even after the person becomes a Christian. These “bad roots”
are shown as dark spots in the following honeycomb diagram.
Honeycomb Honey Jar
We need to bring Jesus into each compartment of the "Honeycomb" that
has darkness in it. Since “judging” is what has planted the “bad roots,”
the way that we bring Jesus into each compartment is to identify that
particular judgment, forgive and be forgiven, and then invite Jesus to
come into that place.
Bringing Jesus into each “compartment” is the process of being
changed into His image.
This process is the second great gift that Jesus provides for us, and it is a
As you can see, this transformation is a process, and not a one-time event.
This process of transformation into the image of Jesus is described in
many places in the New Testament, and the Apostles used a variety of
words to refer to it. Read Appendix A to see the variety. This variety of
wording could sometimes cause confusion; so in order to make sure that
you always know what I am talking about, when I am referring to this
process of being changed into the image of Jesus, I am going to use the
Greek word, metamorphoo (Strong’s #3339). It is the word from which
English gets the word “metamorphosis,” which is the word used by
science to describe the transformation of a worm into a butterfly.
“In Rom. 12:2 and 1 Cor. 3:18 the idea of transformation refers to an
invisible process in Christians which takes place or begins to take
place during this life in this age.” (Zodhiates, page 969).
"Metamorphoo" is a Greek word I will use for this process of being
transformed into the image of Jesus.
Once Jesus has taken up residence in that particular place in our
"Honeycomb," He produces the “good fruit” automatically, because Jesus
can do nothing but produce “good fruit.” It is His nature. As He takes
over that part of our “Honeycomb,” His nature actually becomes ours in
that area. This event is an impartation of His character and attributes into
us. This “good root” that now resides in that part of our "Honeycomb"
always produces “good fruit.”
In that area, we are now a partaker of the divine nature, and are enjoying
the “exceedingly great and precious promises” that Peter wrote about (2
For instance, if we have struggled with anger, we have found that trying
hard not to get angry hasn't worked (trying implies use of our willpower).
We find ourselves still having angry outbursts. We need to find the “bad
root.” Perhaps we realize that our father was an angry man. We judged
him for it (we sinned by judging him). This “bad root” is causing the “bad
fruit.” When we remove the “bad root” and have it replaced with the life
of Jesus (by applying the blood of Jesus), we find we just don’t have angry
outbursts anymore. There is now “good fruit,” which is evidence of Jesus
in that place in us. The “good fruit” is now so natural and automatic that
we may not even be aware that we are different, because it is a new “us."
Does this sound too good to be true? Believe me, it is true. Better yet,
believe Jesus when He said,
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in
heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48, underlining is mine).
When Jesus cleanses one compartment of the “Honeycomb,” it does not
mean that all the compartments are clean. Other “bad roots” will
undoubtedly remain, and they will be causing other “bad fruit.” We need
to continue being transformed as God shows us areas in our
“Honeycomb” that need healing. This is what Paul meant when he said to
the Christians at Philippi:
. . . [continuously] work out your own salvation with fear
and trembling; for it [continuously] is God who
[continuously] works in you both to [continuously] will
and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13,
[continuously] is mine).
We need to keep on being transformed as God shows us areas in our
heart that need transformation.
We Have Had It Backwards!
"If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
When we read a scripture like this, we tend to strive with our willpower to
keep His commandments, because we want to please God. We want Him
to know that we love Him, and it seems as though this scripture is telling
us that the way we can prove our love for Him is to keep His
commandments. How can one reconcile this with what we have been
discovering about our inability to keep His commandments in our own
strength (that is, with our willpower)?
Fortunately, in the context surrounding the above scripture Jesus clearly
explains what He meant. The explanation is in John 15:5, which is
sandwiched between two scriptures that talk about keeping His
The top of the sandwich:
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he
who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My
Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him"
" I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in
Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you
can do nothing" (John 15:5, I added the bold).
The bottom of the sandwich:
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My
love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and
abide in His love" (John 15:10).
What could be clearer than "without Me you can do nothing”?
Jesus loves the Father because that is Jesus’ nature. Keeping this in
mind, then this scripture (John 15:10) is saying something like:
”If you keep My commandments this is evidence that you
have been changed into My image, because on your own
you could not do it. When you have My nature, you love
the Father in exactly the same way that I do" (the red is
The reason that we can be thrown into striving to keep God's
commandments is that we are confused about how we go about pleasing
God. We focus on our behavior (keeping the commandments) rather than
the cause of the behavior (the condition in our “Honeycomb”). We try to
keep the commandments in order to prove that we love God.
That is backwards.
We can only please God by first being changed into the image of Jesus,
and then we will keep the commandments; because that is now our new
nature. The “Honeycomb” has to change first, and then the behavior will
change. Changing our behavior does not change our “Honeycomb.”
Trying hard to obey God in our own strength is not only futile, it is sin;
because then we are under the illusion that we can do God's job. We are
subtly taking God's place. Hopefully you can now see that when we are
reaping bad things (bad behavior and the results of it) in our life, it is the
consequence of sin. Jesus is the only One who can stop this. This
tendency for us to try to keep the Law in our own strength is a subtle and
1 John 4:19 says,
We love him because He first loved us.
This is the direction of the flow, from God to us, not the other way
around. If you are not clear on this, you can misread many scriptures. I
would suggest that you read the Gospel of John Chapters 13 through 17 in
your Bible to get the full flow of what Jesus is saying about this. There He
was saying how it was going to be when His work was done on earth –
which is the time in which we Christians are now living.
Let me illustrate this with a parallel. Imagine that I break my leg. It hurts,
so I take a painkiller, and it hurts less (I manipulate the symptom). But the
leg is still broken (the cause). If I neglect the painkiller, it hurts a lot. If
the doctor said that a healthy leg shouldn't hurt, I would agree. If mine
weren't broken, it wouldn't hurt. But saying my broken leg shouldn't hurt
doesn't keep it from hurting. The only way for my leg pain to go away (the
symptom, or “bad fruit”) is for my broken leg (the cause, or “bad root”) to
heal (be changed to a “good root”). After it is healed, it won’t hurt
Similarly, when I sin, there is a wound in my “Honeycomb.” It causes
emotional pain and I have “bad fruit,” so I try to act differently (I
manipulate the symptom). But it doesn't work very well, because there is a
“bad root” inside my “Honeycomb” (the cause). When Jesus says that I
should keep His commandments, I would agree. If I didn't have the “bad
root” in my “Honeycomb,” the bad behavior wouldn't happen. But saying I
should keep His commandments does not make it possible as long as
Jesus isn’t abiding in that particular area of my “Honeycomb” (my “heart”
is “wounded”). The only way I can consistently keep the commandments
(the symptom) is for my “Honeycomb” (the cause, or “bad root”) to be
healed and for Jesus to take up residence there (the “bad root” to be
changed to a “good root”). The symptom is not the cause. We have had it
backwards, and have focused on the symptom (the “fruit” evident outside
of us) and not the cause (the “root” inside our “Honeycomb”).
Our Christian life is meant to be lived from transformation in our
"Honeycomb," not from our will and intellect as the source.
Keeping God's Commandments
When Jesus says that we should keep His commandments He is simply
saying that is how we can tell whether there is a “bad root” or a “good
root” inside our “Honeycomb.” Be careful not to be confused about
this. The emphasis is never on the “fruit,” but is always upon the “root.”
Focusing on the “bad fruit” can set us to striving to keep the
commandments with our willpower - and thus doom us to failure. It is a
subtle but deadly trap, and we so easily stumble on this stumbling stone.
There are many scriptures that can be misunderstood if we confuse the
“fruit” with the “root.” The book of James has some significant examples
of these kinds of scriptures, such as:
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by
faith only (James 2:24).
These scriptures are simply saying that if there are no "works" (no “good
fruit”) this is evidence that there is no "faith" (no “good root”). They are
not mandating "trying" with our willpower. “Good fruit” is all about
outward evidence (our behavior), whereas “good roots” are all about the
cause (conditions hidden inside our “Honeycomb”).
God's commandments are a way of measuring whether we have a "bad
root" or a "good root" inside our "Honeycomb."
Then when Jesus inside our “Honeycomb” is producing the “fruit,” it is
easy for us. Thus He could say:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from
Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find
rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is
light (Matthew 11:28-30).
Can you now see more clearly the provision Jesus made for us in this
life? He did not leave us here to struggle to try to accomplish goodness
in our own lives in our own strength.
Jesus provided for us here in this life!
His promises and provision are not hollow or empty. The fact that you
have been stuck, as Paul wrote about in Romans 7:15, simply says that you
just haven’t known about His provision, or how to apply it.
You are not alone. The Christian church has been robbed of the
miraculous provision of transformation into the image of Jesus.
Please note that whenever I refer to the "Christian church," I am speaking
globally of all organizations and individuals who claim Jesus Christ as