Exchanging Yourself for Christ
Transformation: Mimic Octopus vs. Butterfly
We live in a world with some truly amazing animals and creatures. Some of the most interesting and coolest of these animals are those who transform themselves into something they were not before or adapt to the environment they are in. Some obvious ones probably come to mind such as the tadpole, chameleon, or the caterpillar. However, as I began to look into some more animals that transform I came across the very intriguing mimic octopus. The mimic octopus is the ultimate master of disguise and was only discovered in 1998 most likely because of its incredible ability to disguise itself. The mimic octopus can transform itself into the false identity of 15 other species and even adapt the behaviors of other sea creatures. It can impersonate poisonous species such as flat fish or deadly sea snakes and can quickly change itself between the acts. You should go check it out on YouTube for yourself. I find this very interesting that the mimic octopus can adapt itself to its environment depending on what it needs to be in a particular situation.
As I looked into this transformation I began to compare and contrast it with the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. These two transformations are both incredible but also very different from each other. A caterpillar goes from a wiggly worm to a beautiful butterfly. This is more than just a impersonation, this is a complete makeover. The caterpillar is not only changed but is given a new name and is unrecognizable from its previous state. Not only that, but it cannot return to the being it was before it’s transformation. It has been completely made new. The mimic octopus, on the other hand, does not have a real transformation but is only impersonating something that it is really not.
These two types of transformation can be related to our lives as believers. Which one are you? Are you a mimic octopus who adapts to the people you are around and looks like something you are truly not in certain situations? Or are you a caterpillar turned butterfly whose transformation has changed everything about you and people no longer even recognize you from your old self. When we come to Christ, we should look nothing like we did before Him.
Crucified with Christ
Paul who had one of the greatest transformations in all of scripture says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul, formerly known as Saul, went from persecuting Christians to writing a large portion of the New Testament. He was given a new name and a completely new identity. If we are in Christ, we no longer adapt to the environment we’re in but we are set apart and transformed from within. This is what happened in Paul. We no longer value the things of this world and God has given us a purpose that is much greater than anything this world has to offer. Our lives should revolve around what Christ has done for us and in us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Once again, when the Lord opens our eyes to the beauty of His Glory and we come to Him, we cannot stay the same.
What are we dying to?
First, we are dying to the law. Jesus brought a new covenant in which we are made right by God by having faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are no longer held down by the weight of trying to fulfill the law, which is impossible. “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). This is great news! By our works, we could never be good enough to be in right relationship with God but now we must simply put our faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
Secondly, we must die to our pride. In order to come to Christ we must first admit that we are not Lord of our own lives and we are in need of a savior. If we do not recognize that we are sick and in need of a Healer we will never go to the Doctor. Our pride must be crucified. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18). We continually see throughout scripture that the Lord shows favor to the humble and despises the proud. We can either humble ourselves now or we will be humbled on our day of judgement.
Thirdly, we die to our sins. We are completely made new. That means our desires, our motives, our heart, everything about us changes. We do not go on in our sinful ways but turn to the one who paid for those sins. Romans 6:1-4 says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” If we die to our sin, we cannot continue to live in it. We do not go on sinning because we are covered by the blood of Jesus but we turn from our sin because we see the beauty in obeying God’s commands. He is good and is for us. He is not trying to hold us back from joy by having commandments in place but He is leading us to greater, fullness of joy through them.
Lastly, we die to our former ways. We are no longer crawling like the caterpillar but we are flying like a beautiful butterfly. Why would we want to go back to our crawling? “Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24). Did you catch that? We were created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Once we put on our new self, we are made righteous through Him. We do not go back to our former ways but we let this truth shape every aspect of our lives.
What are we being born into?
In the second half of Galatians 2:20 it says, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Once we die, we are being born into a new life, a life lived by faith in the Son of God. So what exactly is this new life? Well, I’m glad you asked.
We are being born into a union with Christ. There is a special union between Christ and his followers that takes place so that what happened to Christ is counted by God as happening to us. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection (Romans 6:5). We are the guilty ones but God no longer sees us as guilty because He sees His son in our place.
We are being born into a life with purpose. If there is no God and if the story of Jesus is all a hoax then our lives are really meaningless. What is our purpose if we just live for a little while and then die? This is a very sad thing to think about. But it is a lie that many of those around us live in everyday. Without Christ we are all perishing and have no purpose. In Christ, we are created for good works and each have been given different gifts to build up the body of Christ. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Jesus is the only one who can give us purpose beyond our time on earth. And not only does He give us an eternal purpose but He wants to use us as His workmanship in the spreading of His holy name. This should be great and exciting news to us!
We are being born into the family of God. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). As believers we make up the dwelling place of God. He no longer dwells only in the temple but He dwells in us. When we come together as believers and live in unity we are creating little pockets of heaven on earth that point to the glory of God. In Revelation, it speaks of a great multitude of people from every tongue, tribe and nation all worshipping the Lord together. How amazing is this going to be?! I don’t know about you, but I want to experience this, not only then, but now.
Okay, so we are dying to this and being born into that. Great. But what does that mean and how do I live this out? We must first individually look in the mirror and examine our lives. Do you see evidences of Christ living through you? If you were put on trial today, would there be enough evidence on you to convict you of being a Christian. A relationship with Jesus should spill out in every aspect of our life: work, school, sports, family, friends, etc. People should without a doubt be able to say: yes that person is a believer in Jesus Christ. We must also ask ourselves: What is more important? Pleasing those around us or pleasing God?
Secondly, we must determine our obstacles. This may sound like a question for a teenage boy but if we get real with ourselves we all know that we struggle in certain areas. If we do not determine our obstacles, we will never determine the solution. We must be proactive about dying to our sin and we must run from it. I mean literally run from it like Joseph did from Potiphar’s wife who wanted to sleep with him. Teetering on the edge with sin is almost a sure sign that our hearts aren’t right with God in the first place. We don’t obey because we have to, we obey because we want to.
Surround yourself with like minded believers. We all have heard the verse, “bad company corrupts good morals.” And it’s so true. You know the people that cause you to fade. You know the situations that cause you to slip. Tim Ferriss says, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with.” Maybe some of us need to make some changes in our starting lineup. Are those five the people you want to be the most like? Are they the five that God wants you to be most like? I know this may not always hold true and we are put around others and we don’t have a choice sometimes. But the point is, are you surrounding yourself with other people who are helping you grow into Christlikeness? We are not supposed to walk alone.
BE ALL IN. This one is huge. Chances are, most of you reading this would call yourself a Christian. But does your life look like someone who has been transformed and everything you do is shaped by your relationship with Christ? You see, Jesus doesn’t want certain areas of our life. He wants it ALL! If we are lukewarm, He says He will spit us out of His mouth ( Revelation 3:16). He wants us to be on fire for Him!
I pray that we would all live out being crucified with Christ daily. Let’s not be the mimic octopus who adapts to the world around us. The world already has enough of those. But let us be those who are being set apart. The caterpillars turned butterflies who have been made into beautiful new creations. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.