When I was growing up, I dreamed of one day becoming a Nuclear Physicist. To answer your question, yes, that does make me a gigantic nerd. I’m still not exactly sure where this dream came from, but I know that I was always amazed by the power that nuclear energy represented. I remember being so intrigued by the idea that by manipulating this infinitesimal speck, an atom, you could power an entire city. Another thing that always fascinated me about nuclear energy was the fact that such great power also comes with the possibility for great danger. It’s not advisable for humans to be in the presence of radioactive materials unprotected, because they emit radiation that has the power to transform our bodies on an atomic level. To be in the presence of a radioactive material is to change, but not for the better. It’s effect on humans is sickness, mutation, cancer, and ultimately death.
In a very similar way, to be in the presence of God is to change. God is the source of all power. His power is omnipotent, meaning it’s the power that powers all other powers; He is all powerful. Nuclear power and the gigantic blazing torch that is our Sun are both tiny flickering flames in comparison to the Power of God. Psalm 62:11 says, “Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God.” (NASB) And much like radioactive materials, God’s presence has a profound impact on any who draw near to Him. But by contrast, to be in the presence of God is to change for the better. In Exodus 34, Moses goes up on a mountain and speaks to God, and when he returns the Bible says in verses 29 & 30, “His face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.” (NIV) As a result of being in the presence of God, Moses’ face shone with the glory of God.
But the Bible tells us that the glory of God eventually faded from Moses’ face, and everything eventually went back to business as usual. The transformation was not lasting. If you are in the presence of radioactive materials, you need special clothing to wear that will protect you from the harmful radiation; and in the same way, the Bible says that to stand in the presence of God, we must wear special clothing as well. We must wear the clothing of righteousness. But what’s incredible is that this is something that we can’t do for ourselves. Our best efforts at righteousness, or self-righteousness, always end up woefully short, and in fact, further complicate matters because we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are covered when we are not. Imagine walking into a nuclear power plant with the special “Atomic Shorts” that you bought online, “Guaranteed Full-Protection or your money back!” You’re not only in grave danger, you’re doubly lost because you don’t even know it!
But thanks to God, there is a covering available for us, and it is the one found in Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus is literally the covering himself! Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (NASB) This covering is called the Atonement of Christ, which literally means a state of “at-one-ment” or joining, or unity with God. The word for atonement in the Hebrew is the word kaphar which in its most basic form means: to cover, and carries the connotation of being brought close in an embrace.
So in order to see transformation in our lives, we have to continually seek to be in the presence of God. The only way that we can remain in the presence of God is through the Atonement of Christ, wearing His righteousness as our covering. When you repent of your brokenness and sin and put your faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection as the source of your righteousness, you begin that amazing transformation. And what is even more incredible is that Christ is the actual result of the transformation as well. Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” This isn’t something that happens immediately, but it’s a process that involves actions that we take and miraculous things that God does. As we daily “clothe ourselves with Christ” (see Romans 13:14) we become more and more like him. That is the mystery and majesty of God, if you will just put yourself in His presence, you will change for the better. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Then you may ask, “How do you ‘go’ into God’s presence?” It may be a better question to ask, “How can you ‘leave’ God’s presence?” because He’s everywhere!! David wonders in Psalm 139:7, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” So in a very real way, we are always able to be in the presence of God. The question is whether or not we will hear His voice when He speaks to us. Hebrews 3 warns us against hardening our hearts to God’s Word and refusing to listen when He speaks. “As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’” Hebrews 3:15
While God can and does speak to anyone at times, the best way to learn to hear God’s voice is through His word, and specifically by reading and meditating on the words of Jesus. Jesus perfectly heard His Father’s voice all throughout His life. He also perfectly obeyed His Father at all times because of His love for the Father. Jesus says in John 14:24, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
Whether or not we obey the words of God is of huge importance. But, it’s also of huge importance to note that we cannot get “closer” to God by obeying His commands, our faith in Christ is the only thing that allows us to approach God. You cannot “earn” your way into God’s presence, or “work” your way into a better relationship with God. But refusing to obey God’s Word is an act of rebellion, and that will naturally draw you away from God. Also, as you obey God, you will come to know Him more, and trust Him more, and the Bible promises both present and future blessings for those who obey God.
Jesse Dukes is part of WDA’s Next Generation Staff and also serving as the Discipleship Minister and worship leader at Legacy Christian Church in Senoia, GA.
Part 1 of 2
This article is part 1 of 2 on the topic of transformation. If this article has been meaningful to you consider the following WDA resources on this topic “Disciple Building: A Practical Strategy”. You can visit a WDA Store under Leadership Manuals.