2 Corinthians 3:18. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
This verse stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Galatians 2:20 as a foundational statement for spiritual growth through our union with Christ. It answers the question that every Christian should be asking, “how do I change in Christ?”
We are changed into the image of Christ as we, with unveiled face, behold the glory of the Lord in Christ. Over the next few days let’s dig into this amazing verse as we seek to embrace transformation through our union with Christ.
With unveiled face.
The very first thing we must believe before we talk about anything else, is that, by the grace of God, the veil has been removed from your heart.
2 Corinthians 3:16. when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
When you placed your faith in Christ and trusted in his life, instead of your own, for salvation and righteousness, the veil was removed. What veil?
2 Corinthians 3:14. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.
Paul depicts the law as being veiled, or misunderstood, as it was read in the synagogue. The law that the Israelites read about, from the Old Testament, was always meant to point to three things: 1) the good life, 2) our inability to live the good life, 3) Jesus living the good life for us.
The hardness of humanity’s hearts placed a veil over all of this. They didn’t see the goodness of the law. They didn’t see their own failure to love. And in each sacrificed lamb, they couldn’t see the One who would have to come and sacrifice for them in order to give them the life that the law demanded.
By his living and his dying he 1) showed us the good life. The life of love and trust in God. He showed us 2) our utter failure in living the good life of love and trust. And, 3) he lived the good life for us in our place.
His life physically and spiritually removed the veil. The physical life that Jesus lived revealed what a human life lived under the Law could be – and it was glorious. Compassionate. Kind. Faithful. Peaceful. Dependent. Submissive and yet free. The imago dei.
But Jesus didn’t just lift the veil that was over the law with his own human life. This is crucial: He lifted the spiritual veil over our hearts as well.
2 Corinthians 3:15. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.
Each of our hearts were veiled. We couldn’t see the glory of the law until we saw it on display in Christ’s physical life. But also he lifted the veil over our hearts and minds by his spiritual life granted to us by grace. He lifted the veil when we turned to the Lord (3:16).
By God’s great grace and our repentance (turning to the Lord) the veil was removed!
And so here is our starting point for change – before we can change, we must believe that we have already been changed. Our minds and hearts have been unveiled. The cover has been lifted. We are the New Creation. The old is gone, the new has come. We are free.
Do you believe this? If you want to change then you must!
You must believe you are already sanctified before you can be sanctified.
You must believe you are free before you can live in freedom.
You must believe you are dead to sin before you can crucify sin.
You must believe that the old man has been taken off before you can take off the old man.
You must believe that you are justified and righteous before you can be an instrument of righteousness.
You must believe that you are raised to life and alive to God before you can live for God.
You must believe that you have a new desire for God before you can live from that desire for God.
Before any transformation can begin by the life of Christ in us, we must believe that the veil over our heart’s understanding and desire, has been lifted because we are in Christ.
“To live is Christ” is to live in this unveiled faith.
Take a minute today and think about your desire for and attempts at change. Are you starting with the faith that you are already changed? How does your union with Christ demand this kind of faith? How does it empower this kind of faith?