Conformation, Reformation & Transformation

As I prepped for last week’s LEGACYouth message, I couldn't help but tap into some insight, thanks to the Stan Mosier workshops in Monteagle last week. Stan's talk centered on the relationship among conformity, reformation, and transformation - each word containing Hebrew and/or Greek significance with respect to spiritual development.

Below are some of the notes taken during the workshops...

Conform: to fashion self according to; abide by the same pattern, based from schema (Greek for shape). Conformation may come from information.

Romans 12:2 (Amplified Bible)

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

To conform means to abide by worldly thinking and self-seeking mentalities. A basic analysis of conformity produces a mental track similar to the following:

‘Con’ refers to ‘with’ among many languages. God created us with a distinct form. Since sin entered the world and corrupted this form, we are bound by (and with) a far inferior alternative to what will be our eternal identity. To conform is to give into a weaker state of mind, of will, of soul, etc.

Reform: to be instructed; to learn via discipline (chastisement)

The Hebrew word that best fits our concept of ‘reform’ bares a similar connection to its usage in Jeremiah 6:8:

Be corrected, reformed, instructed, and warned, O Jerusalem, lest I be alienated and parted from you, lest I make you a desolation, an uninhabited land.”

Let’s take a look at another Jeremiah passage:

Jeremiah 31:18 (Amplified Bible)

I have surely heard Ephraim [Israel] moaning thus: You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; bring me back, that I may be restored, for You are the Lord my God.”

Reform differs from conform primarily by nature of standards. While conformation sticks to the sensible, human nature, reformation associates to higher standards – ones that point to an ultimate authority. How these standards are approached and followed, in respect to conformity, are secondary means of disparity. Reformation, however, is not limited to moral adjustments.

It can apply to a refining of understanding by way of instruction (Psalms 2:10) or correction (Proverbs 29:19). Reformation points in the direction of transformation, since restoration is a valid byproduct. It’s essential to note the gap between reformation-based restoration and transformation-based restoration.

Transform: a change of nature, made anew; to convert.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (New International Version)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

To be transformed is to be revolutionized into an entirely unique structure with an allegiance to both Spirit and Word. Whereas reformation is a change of mind, transformation is a change of nature, state, identity, and so on. While reformation is a horizontal manifestation of adapting, transformation is always vertical since it always comes from revelation by Word or Spirit. In 2 Corinthians, transformation finds heritage from metaschematizo, which supports the divine connotation of true freedom produced from true change.

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