Christians are being transformed into Christ’s likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). God is trying to press His people into a Christ-shaped mold. But this transformation isn’t an easy process, partly because the world is trying to press us into its own mold. In order to be transformed into the image of Christ we must resist being conformed to this world. Paul writes, “[D]o not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2, NASB).
How is this transformation possible? Where does this transformation begin? This transformation is possible only if it begins in the heart. Paul says that we are transformed by the renewal of our minds. This transformation is an inside-out transformation. Too often we focus on changing our actions, instead of our attitudes. That’s exactly what many of the Pharisees did. They were overly concerned with externals while their hearts were deteriorating. Since they focused solely on external righteousness to the neglect of their hearts, they became like cups that are clean on the outside but filthy inside. They were like pretty caskets full of dead people’s bones. They looked good on the outside, but their hearts were hollow (Matt. 23:25-28).
When Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, he realized that their problems with regard to unity were merely symptoms of a deeper problem. Paul addresses the real problem when he offers the following solution to them: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5, NKJV). Transformation begins in the mind and then extends to our mannerisms. It begins in the heart and then extends to our habits. It begins in our attitudes and then extends to our actions.