Let me begin straight-away by telling you that I used to be a very fearful, introverted an angry person. I used to have all kinds of negative, thoughts, negative feelings and negative emotions. I used to let those things define me, define who I was, and define my future as well. However while I was too blind to see it back then all those years ago; none of that was true, that was not truly who I was, and my destiny in Christ was far greater than those petty things.
Since then, I have learned that my experiences are not all that unique. There are a lot of people still living by their thoughts, feelings and emotions, and allowing those things to direct and define their existence. However, I want to share with you today that just as myself, your destiny is far greater than those things. Your destiny is to have your image restored to the way that God intended. To be lifted out of whatever pit you may find yourself in and to be dusted off and cleaned-up – not through your own works or self-efforts, or painful suffering and endurance as all of the man-made religions of the world tend to portray… but by the glory of Christ and the power of His Spirit. This is what we will be studying today.
Let’s not waste any time and get right to the root of it all, with 2nd Corinthians 3:18:
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.”
So this verse here plainly tells us that there is a metamorphosis which takes place. The Greek word for changed in this verse is in fact metamorphoo, from which we get our English word metamorphosis. But unlike all of our worldly thinking and reasoning tells us, unlike the way which we have been trained and condition by human ideas, human reasoning and human religion, this transformation does not come about by our own strength, effort, will-power, self-control or suffering. The scriptures describe a very different way, a better way and a much more effective way!
The verse begins by making a statement – a very important statement… that we have what some translations call an open face. This simply means a face that is not covered or veiled to the truth. If you read the entirety of 2nd Corinthians 3, you will notice that a very stark contrast is made between the ministry of the Law of Moses, and the ministry of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. One brings death, the other brings life. One brought condemnation, the other brings righteousness. One brings a veil, the other uncovers the veil. One had glory in the past, but now the other has much more glory. Verse 6 even plainly says that we are today ministers of the New Covenant and not of the Law of Moses for those very reasons mentioned.
So because of that, because of the ministry of the Spirit, and the finished work of Jesus Christ, our faces are uncovered; we are not veiled to the truth of Jesus Christ, we are plainly able to behold (or see) the glory of the Lord. Now stop here for a moment and notice what we are to be holding… it is not our own glory in ourselves, it is not our works, our behaviors, our efforts, our performance or our character. The moment we start looking at those things, we have missed the point of it all. We don’t read the Bible to find out how we need to perform, or what we need to do today to be accepted or transformed. We do not look at Jesus as an example that we need to strive for in our behavior to be righteous. A lot of people get tripped-up because they look at all of the ways Jesus behaved, and let’s be real here, He was absolutely perfect; they look at that and then they think that they need to measure up to His perfect performance, so they strive for that in their own strength and effort – and when they fail, they feel guilt and shame and become condemned in their own heart, and promise to “do better next time and try harder” and it become a vicious cycle of self-effort and condemnation – and that is not the abundant life which Jesus suffered and died to give you.
I have said it before, and I will say it again now: we need to stop asking ourselves What Would Jesus Do? And start looking at what He has already done, for us on the cross! We need to stop reading our Bible like a To-Do list and a rule-book and start reading it to see Jesus in His glory and Majesty. We have the opportunity and the privilege today to do something that the Old Covenant prophets longed and greatly desired to do but couldn’t… we get to behold the very face of God! And our verse says that as we behold His glory, we are transformed into the same image.
Now why does this happen in this manner? Why are we transformed into the same image? Well, I am about to share with you a great mystery and a secret (which is actually not a secret, but many people haven’t realized it yet!):
Today, you are one with Christ, and He is one with you. You are in Him and He is in you. Therefore, His image is yours.
You see, when you see Jesus in the scriptures today, you are not seeing something that you must try to become… you are in-fact seeing what Jesus has made you to be! You are seeing who you really are because of the new birth, and because of the new creation which His Spirit has accomplished inside of you.
This is why as I have mentioned before: the only process for us, is to see that there really is no process! We are simply looking into God’s mirror of truth and seeing who we really are, now that our face is unveiled.
You see, this is a transformation that happens, not by trying, striving or suffering, but by beholding Jesus, and by extension our New Identity as well in Him. It is a very divine and wonderful method! It is the message that was preached from the very beginning, look and live, believe and receive; It happened to Peter when he stepped out on the water, he looked upon Jesus, and was changed into the same image to do what Jesus did; and it happens the exact same way for us as well.
Notice also that we are not changed into a lesser image, but to the same image, and that this change happens from glory to glory. I have spoken with many people over the years who constantly speak of the Christian life as one filled with peaks and valleys, ups-and-downs, going through periods of dryness and famine where God ignores them (or so they think). Yet here the verse says that a life in the Spirit is not a roller-coaster of shifting feelings, emotions or ups-and-downs, but from glory to glory. You will be continually rising, always on an upward trend. From one glory to the next and the next one is always more than the previous.
Right on the heels of that, the verse then concludes by reminding us of how this change takes place. Again, it is not by anything of yourself, not your strength, not your intellect, or any arm of your flesh… but even as by the Spirit of the LORD. His Spirit transforms you into His same image; not yourself.
So it works like this: You read your Bible, you see Jesus, let’s say you see the glory of His divine love… the Spirit takes that divine picture of life, and changes you on the inside. Remember that the eye is the lamp of the body (Matthew 6:22), and Jesus told the Pharisees that if you clean the inside of the cup the outside will be clean also (Matthew 23:26). Now you are transformed from one glory to the next… so next time you read your Bible, let’s say that you see something about Jesus’ healing power, well, that builds upon His love and compassion, so now the Spirit takes those things together and transforms you even more, and your image is being restored to look like Him, as He has always intended you to be from creation. And all of it is by His Spirit; not of yourself. You are simply beholding the face of Jesus, and it is a wonderful experience. The burden is not on you to change, or modify your own behaviors… just look at Jesus and He transforms you all by Himself. And you reap the benefits!
This is the reason Jesus came and suffered and died and resurrected. Not so that you could just pray a prayer and go to heaven one day, and not to that you could strive and work hard and sweat to try and measure up to His perfect standard when He already knew that human strength and flesh was insufficient to meet that standard to begin with. If man could by his own power measure up to God then Jesus would’ve never needed to die to recover us.
No my friend, Jesus suffered and died, not so that you could try to live for Him, but so that you could receive His new life and live through Him. He did not come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people live. So that you could again have His Spirit indwell you and receive His perfect love for you and be restored to His image and look the way that He intended you to look from the beginning; both inside and out – and that is something that only He can do. The Spirit of God comes back into you to manifest Christ in you and through you. That is your created value, and that is your purpose and inheritance. He chose you, so that He could indwell you.. You are the very temple of God today (1st Corinthians 3:16, 6:19) that is the highest honor imaginable, and it shows you how much God loves you. God could choose anywhere to dwell, even beyond this world, He literally could dwell anywhere – He’s not forced to live in a certain place – He has free picking of wherever He desires. And when we were dead and corrupted and defiled with sin through the fall, He could’ve demolished us all and made new houses for Himself – He chose to demolish His beloved Son Jesus in our place, because He wanted to dwell inside of you. That’s how much God loves you. That’s why Romans 5:8 says that the love of God is demonstrated in this: that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus did not die so that you could pray a prayer and go to Heaven one day. Jesus died so that Heaven could come back into you, and the effects of sin and the effects of the curse and the fall of man could be utterly destroyed and removed in your life. Heaven is so named because God is there… and He is in you. This is why Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is in us (Matthew 6:33, Luke 17:21, Romans 14:17), because the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus, and His Spirit is within us.
This is your image, this is your value, and this is how much God loves you.