Transformed into the Image of Christ—Part 1: 2 Corinthians 3:18

© Marcelo A. Tolopilo

Do you ever grow discouraged about your own lack of spiritual growth?

At times do your personal struggles seem to overtake your progress in your journey to heaven? You read your Bible but the words don’t seem to penetrate your heart. You persevere, yet it seems you do so with little effect. There are periods in life when it seems there is a net growth of zero in our Christian development.

Take courage

As disheartening as that can feel, take courage because the truth is God is at work in us even though we may not be able to perceive it. I want to guide you to one verse, 2 Corinthians 3:18, that speaks to this God-wrought, ongoing, supernatural metamorphosis in us. In this scripture Paul outlines three simple truths that frame God’s advancing work of sanctification in our lives. In this article of The Lighthouse we will consider the first principle. The next two will be the subject of our following newsletter article.

Paul tells us that believers, you and I, undergo a progressive, spiritual, supernatural change. Here’s how Paul describes it, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” I want to draw your attention to the first half of this verse for our first observation which is this,

Transformation happens by looking to, contemplating the glory of Lord Jesus Christ.

That is the true catalyst for our sanctification. The key ideas in Paul’s terms “unveiled face… beholding as in a mirror” are firstly the removal of an obstruction, and secondly Paul speaks of an up-close intimacy.

In the previous section (2 Corinthians
3:13–15) Paul talks about the veil that obstructs a true view of God for those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus. Unbelievers cannot perceive and understand God because there remains a curtain, a veil that obstructs their ability to see and comprehend Him. When a person embraces Jesus Christ as Savior that veil is removed allowing a clear view of God and His Son.

In referencing a “mirror” Paul points us to the intimacy a mirror affords. In Paul’s day mirrors were not made out of glass but polished metal. The reflection was not nearly as clear as what we experience today, but what a mirror allowed a person to do was to get up close to what he saw and to look intently at what he or she observed. What is it that we gaze into intently? Not our own reflection—that’s not Paul’s point—but rather “the glory of the Lord.”

That unobstructed, intimate beholding of the glory of the Lord Jesus is what transforms us into His image and the likeness of His Father. What’s more, Jesus is revealed to us clearly, as fully as He can be known, in the word of God! Essentially scripture is the mirror that reflects to us—in intimate detail—the glory of our Savior. As Paul reminds us in the next chapter,
“For God, … is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). As we look intently into the glorious face/person of Jesus Christ reflected in the word of God, the promise is we will be transformed. In fact, the more we contemplate Christ in His word, the greater our transformation!

In the wintery seasons of life I urge you to keep looking to, keep pondering, keep studying, keep contemplating the matchless beauty of the Lord Jesus revealed to us in the pages of scripture. As we do, God’s Spirit will faithfully transform us into the image of His Son. You and I may not always “feel” the change, yet God is at work fashioning us, sculpting us to conform to the likeness of Jesus.

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