Portrayals of Christ formed in believers
The Galatian believers
Paul says he travails in birth again for his disciples in Galatia until Christ be formed in them. He was concerned about the Galatian believers who started in the spirit but ended up in the flesh. They were born again by the Spirit and the Word of God but were influenced by the legalistic Judaizers to get circumcised and to keep the law again. Paul asked: ‘who has bewitched you?’ They also stopped following Paul and his teaching and clung to the false teachers who told them Paul was a false apostle. Paul’s tone in this epistle is one of deep affection and strong emotion. He gave birth to spiritual children who now rejects him and he experiences anguish about them.
Paul immediately started praying seriously for them hoping that Christ in them would be manifested outwardly in their daily lives. This is a work of transformation that only the Spirit of God can do by the Word of God that abides in them. It is not a matter of self-effort.
The meaning of ‘form’
The word ‘form’ is ‘morphoo’ in Greek and that speaks of giving outward expression of an inward nature. (Wuest) We use the English word ‘form’ when we say, ‘I went to watch tennis yesterday. The winning player was in excellent form.’ The outward expression of his inward ability helped him to win the match.
When Jesus Christ was transformed on the Mount of Transfiguration the same basic word, ‘metamorfeo’ was used to describe his supernatural change. His inward reality of being one with God beamed out to make his clothes shine like armor and his face shine like the sun. A cloud of glory enveloped him and his 3 disciples, Peter, James & John.
Two men appeared in this glorious moment to speak to him about his decease that He still had to accomplish in Jerusalem for the sake of those who would later on believe in Him. Those two men were Elijah and Moses, both who were supernaturally transported from earth to heaven instead of dying normal deaths. They were taken up by God and could therefore descend again to fulfill the will of God.
Jesus lived His earthly life to perfection by obeying His heavenly Father in everything and perfectly pleasing Him so that His inner reality became greater than his flesh or his body. He could have gone to heaven at that point, just like Moses & Elijah, but if He did, He would have gone alone without us. He still had to accomplish something extremely important on earth: giving His life as a ransom for many. He still had to be crucified and shed His blood as remission for all our sins. Then God would resurrect Him and give Him an eternal body that would never be destroyed.
That new body could eat fish and honey, but it could move through walls and travel great distances at a moment’s notice. It is His glorified body – the kind we will receive when Christ returns and we are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when our corruptible body will put on incorruption and our mortal coil will become immortal.
We are called according to God’s purpose
God wants to form Christ within us so that this transformation can take place at the right time when Jesus returns to reign on the new earth, and we will reign with Him. This is the great purpose of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
The word ‘form’ or ‘morphoo’ can be applied to a tennis player who is in excellent form, because of dedication and hard practice, he reached a state of excellence to play with such skill and dexterity as to defeat his opponent. You perform excellently. The word ‘form’ is part of ‘perform’.
The word ‘form’ is also part of ‘conform’ and ‘reform’. True reformation is conformation to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, so we can overcome the enemy of our souls and be transformed completely into what He wants us to be. John tells us in his epistle, ‘now we know we are the sons of God, but what we will be when Christ returns, we do not know yet, but all we know is that we shall be like Him.’ What a wonderful hope and glorious prospect await those who allow the Holy Spirit to form Christ within them.
God’s chosen means to bring about the transformation
God chose the means of a church to complete this work. The enemy fights the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, because He knows that is the place where believers’ lives are transformed into the image of Christ. He knows he is a defeated foe. He knows he stands no chance against the believers who are inwardly transformed because of Christ within, the hope of glory. That is why he tries to cause trouble to make people leave the church or tries to tell them, ‘church is not important’ or makes them find fault with the church, so that they cannot be transformed. It is a spiritual battle.
That is why Paul prayed so earnestly for the believers in Galatia that Christ be formed within them, that they would escape all the lies of the devil and become Christ-inside minded, so that people would experience Christ Jesus wherever they moved, and lived and have their being. It would be an outward expression of an inward reality: Christ within the hope of glory, shining out in a glorious expression of His nature, His wisdom and His power.
Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that they might get spiritual understanding to know who they are in Christ Jesus, to know the hope of their calling and to recognize Christ in each other as well as knowing to His wisdom and resurrection power that works mightily through them. (Ephesians 1:17-21)
We get to know each other after the spirit
As we allow the Holy Spirit to perfect that which concerns each one, we no longer know each other after the flesh, but after the spirit. This is the great secret or mystery of Christ and His Church: He is the Head and we make up His body. We function under His supervision and command. It is as if Christ walks the earth again.
He operates through a multi-membered body of believers that are inwardly transformed to manifest His nature, wisdom and power to the world out there. He goes wherever we go. He acts whenever we act. His Spirit leads and guides us and shows us things to come. (John 16:13) We please our heavenly Father, just like Jesus did, by doing what pleases Him, and He never leaves or forsakes us.
God confirms His Word
He confirms His Word with signs and wonders and miracles following and gives the gifts of the Spirit to be manifested wherever we are. This is the manifestation of the sons of God that the whole creation is longing to see. (Romans 8:19)
When Paul & Silas reached a place they said, ‘they turn the world upside down’. We are emissaries of change. We bring change wherever we go. We establish the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. We see to it that the will of God is being done on earth as it is in heaven. His is the glory and the honor and the power for ever and ever, amen.
Those who have spiritual oversight over the souls of believers constantly labor in prayer that Christ be formed in them. They have to patiently wait for the inward change to occur. The flesh fights the change, because it will not submit. The flesh attacks those who are spiritual, because the flesh is stubborn and not submissive.
Suffering for Christ’s sake
It is so that the closer you get to Christ, the more you are persecuted, misunderstood and hated. The spirit of the world is the spirit of the anti-Christ and it hates those who are being perfected. Family members will come against you and say things they do not even mean to hurt you, but God uses it to perfect you and to bring about the change in you, to form Christ in you, so that there is a greater revelation of Christ through you.
Examples of changed lives
God changed Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah so that the promise of God to them could be fulfilled to become the father and mother of many nations. God changed Jacob the deceiver into Israel, a prince with God, to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham and His Seed, that speaks of Christ.
God changed Simon, a reed, into Peter, a part of a great rock, and Saul into Paul, that means ‘little one’. Paul became nothing so that Christ could be everything.
God took Nola, a little barefoot girl in Alexander Bay who played on a piano that she drew in the sand, to become a worship leader that trains many to lead prophetic worship in the presence of God. He took a little unknown girl and made her appear on national TV to dazzle millions of people. He made her famous for His Name’s sake.
God took me, a little boy in a parsonage in a mining town, and made me reach 123 nations for Him. God brought me back from death, so that I can continue my work that He has called me to do and to fulfill my destiny.
God’s perfect plan for your life
God will perfect that which concerns you. The good work God has started He will complete. He will form Christ in you so that it will be manifested on the outside – effortlessly! His grace is sufficient for you. His plan for your life is perfect. He will also do it. He is faithful and can be trusted completely.