Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From glory to GLORY

As I have been reading and studying through 2 Corinthians with a friend, there have been a few apparent themes that have stuck out to me. One of which is the idea that God is transforming those who "turn to the Lord" into the same image as His son.  This is especially encouraging to me, because over the past year I have experienced a season of particular spiritual dryness. Many things have contributed to this, change being the biggest factor, and I will write about that later. But this morning I want to look at the idea of the transformation of the Christian into the likeness of our Savior. Let's look at three particular passages:

"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." (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB)"

"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. " (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, ESV)

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16, ESV)

As we begin to look at the themese that run throughout these verses, we can pick up on a few key words: glory . glory of God . transformed . Jesus Christ . renewed . These words give us a hint as what Paul is talking about in this section. After he has just ended a discussion on the old covenant's fading glory, he climaxes by showing us that the glory of the new covenant is not fading but is instead a great glory that is permanent. Specifically, in 3:18, Paul says that all who have "turned to the Lord" see the glory of the Lord (Jesus Christ) "as in a mirror". As I began thinking of what that imagery meant, I got a clear picture in my mind of what looking into a mirror shows us. If I look into a mirror, I will see myself staring back at me! And Paul here is saying that we behold Jesus in a mirror! What does that mean? He is saying that as we are transformed into the the same image that we see of Christ in the mirror. God's glory is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ who is in all believers and God's Spirit transforms us to look more and more like Christ so that we behold a better and better image of Christ in ourselves.

In the next two verses, Paul is expanding on the idea of glory of God revealed in the person of Jesus. We clearly don't like like glorified Jesus externally. We don't glow, as He did at the Transfiguration, nor do we have resurrection bodies (yet!) that are without the stain of sin. Let's face it, we are simply "jars of clay", common vessels that have no special appearance in and of themselves. But Paul is saying here that the same God who created the light, has also shone light in the hearts of believers to reveal an inner knowledge of the glory of God, which is shown in the face or person of Christ. This inner knowledge is what is held in our 'jars of clay' bodies and it is what Paul calls "surpassing greatness of the power" that comes from God and not from ourselves.

Lastly, as Paul has mentioned the trials that he and his fellow ministers of the gospel have been through, he makes an astounding statement, "So we do not lose heart..." (4:16), because he knows that we should know too - that though our earthly bodies are decaying, dying everyday a little bit more, our inner selves are being renewed. How are they being renewed? By the knowledge of the glory of God that we possess, and by the transforming work of the Spirit of God to change us from one image of God to a more glorious image of God -- the likeness of the perfect image of God: Jesus Christ.

So how does this relate to the daily grind of work, family, friends, and life in general? John MacArthur, his 2 Corinthians study guide asks the question, "How can you practically 'behold the glory of the Lord' in everyday activities?" and so I pose a similar question: How in the midst of the distraction of daily life can you 'behold the glory of the Lord' by looking to Jesus? That may mean a daily reminder that it is GOD who works in us sanctification, and our own efforts are NOT enough; or that may look like simply resting in the righteousness that is imputed to you and not trying to add to it. By beholding Jesus in the mirror of the Word, we see both our lost state apart from Him AND our new selves that are continually being transformed into his likeness. And that I can praise God for because I sure do need that reminder!

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