|Posted on October 24, 2019 at 12:00 AM|
Many believers fall into a dangerous trap of thinking, “Now that I am a Christian, I’m going to have to change my ways or God will not bless or maybe even curse me.” This spiritual trap is not new since it has been used by the enemy for the last two millennia. It is an effort on the part of Satan to divert our attention from what God says is true about us and trusting him to work in our lives to an unhealthy obsession with our own knowledge of good and evil and our own efforts to live right.
Believers that try as hard as they can to be “good Christians” naturally use their own knowledge and understanding of right and wrong to make their choices in their everyday life. Using the Bible as a book of rules they view God’s law as a means to save themselves and rely on their own understanding and interpretation (the letter) to live a life pleasing to God. While some may experience temporary success in their self-improvement program and take pride in the fact that they are living according to the demands of the Bible, the sad truth is they have made Christ of no effect in their lives and are obligated to keep the whole law in their own strength.
In contrast to this religious trap for believers who want real transformation in their lives Paul gives us the good news of how God works in us by his Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 3: 18 he says, “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.” The context of this statement is a discussion of how we are going to live our lives as believers…under the old covenant of law, or under the new covenant of grace. Further he tells us that when the law is used (our own efforts to keep the rules as we interpret them) we must pretend and cover up our failures. But when we focus on what God has done for us under the new covenant, we have true liberty.
What Paul is describing is the key to personal transformation. Rather focus on what we are going to do or not do he tells us to look steadfastly in the “glass” or mirror to see the glory of the Lord. When looking in the mirror we would naturally expect to see ourselves, but here Paul says we are to look at the glory of the Lord who is Jesus, the express image of the invisible God. The mirror is the Bible and we are to look into what the Bible says about who we are in Christ, the “glory of the Lord”. In other words, our responsibility is to earnestly study who God says he has made us to be in Christ. Our faith in what the Word of God says about our union with and new identity in Christ is what the Bible calls the “milk” which all believers need to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.
When we exercise our faith in our new identity in Christ a miracle takes place. Paul says we are changed, not that we change ourselves. The verb used here is written in the passive voice meaning that it is a change that happens to us rather than a change we make ourselves. He goes on to tell us that we are changed into the “same image” meaning that we are miraculously transformed into the image of Christ and the new man God has made us to be. The miraculous change is developmental and progressive in that it is “from glory to glory” as we mature spiritually. And it is a change that the Spirit of God makes in us himself.
In fulfillment of the new covenant of grace God radically changes us from the inside out so that we begin to act, feel, and relate to others just like Jesus. Our job is to steadfastly look into the “mirror” and believe what God says he has done for us in Christ. His job is to continue to change us and transform us into the same image as his beloved son in whom he is well pleased.