Did you know that it’s possible to change but still remain the same? That doesn’t seem to make sense, but many people do this very thing. They may change a lot of things, but deep down, they are the same people they always were. Many of us say we want revival or transformation, but we are unwilling to allow God to transform us personally. We act like we’re changed, we talk like we’re changed, but we’re still the same on the inside as we’ve always been.
Take a house, for example. You can paint that house, give it a facelift, and redo the landscaping. But it’s still a house. What would have to happen to change the identity of that house? Either (a) its structure would have to drastically change, or (b) its function would have to change. There are people who operate businesses out of what used to be houses. In each instance, the building is no longer a house, but a barbershop, an attorney’s office, a restaurant, etc. Make sense so far?
The identity of a thing has not been changed until its usage has been changed. So, what’s our identity? It’s all too easy for people to put on a front, but their identity has not changed. Are we living our lives for the things of God or the things of the world? The Bible says that when one truly accepts Christ, he is a New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17). True transformation has not occurred in an individual’s life unless he/she has literally become a new person in Christ. Romans 12:2 reads this way out of the NIV:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Notice that this Scripture does not simply say, “Be changed.” Change implies an outward adjustment without an identity shift. Transformation gets at the very core of an identity! Interestingly, when we talk about change, we find that we have to be more specific. In the Bible, TWO words describe change. The FIRST one implies a total and drastic life change, as in the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. It literally means to “change forms” (aka transform)! But the SECOND one refers to the partial change of a thing, typically affecting the external or outside realm only. In other words, this is a disguise. Do you see how both words referring to change have two completely different and nearly opposite meanings? This proves the fact that it is possible to change and still be the same. Both of these words appear in Scripture. The FIRST word appears in the above quoted passage of Romans 12:2, where it says, “Be transformed.” The SECOND word appears in 2 Corinthians 11:13–15 (NIV). See if you can pick it out:
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
Did you find it? It actually appears three times in three different forms in the text! The root word is masquerade (which is a fancy word for putting on a mask or disguise). This verse basically says that even as Satan himself masquerades/disguises as an angel of light, so there are many people on this earth who disguise themselves. They like to look good on the outside, but they have not dealt with the changing of their hearts on the inside. In reality, they have only changed their outward appearance, without changing the motives of their hearts.
As believers we like to talk the talk, but can we walk the walk? We talk about wanting to live for God, but when it comes down to it, we can fall into the tendency to just put on a mask. We like to act like we have it all together and like we’re good, but where are our hearts? If we have not allowed God to come and transform our hearts, then all we are doing is wearing a mask.
Many people may speak of transformation. They may say they long for true revival. But they are not willing to undergo true transformation themselves. The challenge for us is to not be like this. There is a price that comes with true change and transformation. Many are not willing to pay it, for it can be a painful process to allow the Lord to transform our hearts, especially if there is a lot of junk in there that He needs to strip out. But we are called to count the costs. If we want transformation or revival in our churches, our schools, our cities, or our families, we must first be willing to examine our own hearts to see if there is any personal transformation needed. Transforming revival in a nation, a city, a church, or a school has to begin with transforming revival in individual people’s hearts.
With this in mind, we have a choice to make: Will we simply wear a mask and pretend to serve God or will we allow Him to truly transform us? May this be our heart’s cry: Transform us, Lord. Transform us. Don’t let us put on our masks and disguises any longer. We don’t want to just go through the motions; we want to truly live for you. We don’t want to pretend to serve You with our lips if our hearts are far from you. Transform us from the inside out. Start with our hearts. Don’t let us be externally changed without being internally changed. Simply transform us every day, so that we may become more like You. Transform us, Lord. Transform us.