Writing this series, I thought that Phase 2: The Caterpillar was the most important. But, in my own growth journey and even since I started this blog I've come to realize that Phase 3: The Cocoon, is actually the MOST important phase. The purpose of this blog was supposed to be about spiritual transformation and becoming BETTER, but God revealed to me that he wants us to become NEW! Therefore, the way to become new is through the sanctification of our bodies, our mind, our soul and our spirit, similar to what the caterpillar is about to go through in the cocoon.
Before we get into the "cocoon of divine grace", let's look at Ephesians 4: 21-24 VERY CLOSELY; (I'm using the MSG)
20-24 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
Let me share a few things I got from that POWERFUL scripture.
1. We do not have the excuse of ignorance. I'm sure we're all familiar with the old adage, "WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, YOU DO BETTER." When you know who you are, you know what to do. In Christ, you are NEW! Religion has been trying to teach us that WHAT WE DO determines WHO WE ARE. But, the Gospel has been trying to get us to understand that WHO YOU ARE determines WHAT YOU DO. Let that sink in. If you missed it, here it is.
Your IDENTITY determines your ACTIVITY. (We'll revisit this with the caterpillar and the butterfly later.)
2. Everything (and he means everything) CONNECTED with the old way of life has to go. It's rotten. THROW IT AWAY! He didn't say go and wash it to make it clean or throw away the pieces that are visibly bad. He was very clear. This is not like a loaf of bread with a few rotten pieces that we can pick around. The entire loaf is ruined, the mold has spread and we must throw the ENTIRE loaf of bread away. It's rotten ALL THE WAY THROUGH!
3. AND THEN take on an entirely NEW way of life. There's an order to EVERYTHING. The ONLY way to get to the NEW way of life is if you first throw away the old one and everything connected to it. This is simple (but important), you can't mix the old with the new.
4. GOD-FASHIONED; life renewed from the inside working itself into your conduct. We're going to take a look at the cocoon to further explain and to finish this out.
The caterpillar has now formed a protective layer (the cocoon) around itself. When it goes into the cocoon, it is motionless the
entire time. This stage is important for a few reasons, one being this is when the DNA turns on. It's cells are turning off, one by one. The caterpillar is turning into an unrecognizable, gooey substance and it DIES! But, within the goo there are sleeping cells (that were present from birth), and they turn own to create the new creature that will be nothing like the former. I want to briefly point out that this is similar to real life when you start making changes and your so called friends and sometimes family say things like, "so and so ain't the same, I don't even know who so and so is no more" or my personal favorite, "she think she better than somebody cause she don't do (insert non exhaustive list of former sinful actions) no more".
Within our individual cocoons of divine grace the power of sin begins to dissolve away as we learn to shed impure thoughts, unkind words, and all manner of wrong doing. The cells of sin turn off, one by one, and dissolve. What was once appealing and necessary to crawl about in the world is now no longer desirable or conducive for our new life. We have new desires, new hope, and a future. We learn to give up what belongs to the old to take what is part of the new and that will not be easy, YOU WILL STRUGGLE.
While the caterpillar is seeming to be passive in this transformation, he's not. He is struggling, just like we struggle daily to live the life of Christ. The struggle that the caterpillar in the cocoon is going through is NECESSARY to strengthen his flight muscles. During the "struggling phase" the circulatory system carries nutrients to the developing wings as they flex (struggle) against the wrapping of the cocoon. Whenever the struggling phase for the butterfly is disrupted (or made easy), the wings develop abnormally or not all all. During the struggling phase for the believer, the Holy Spirit carries essential nutrients of truth to our developing "wings of faith." Truth when digested, is nutrient to struggle against sin, the devil, and the cares of this world including your hating auntie who thinks you think you're better than somebody.
In closing, throw away the old you. My good friend Geoff used to tell me all the time to fall in love with the process. When he originally told me that saying I didn't quite get it. But GOD! I thank him in my head almost daily because to understand what it means to fall in the love with the process is to understand that IT'S NOT OVER!