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.
Do you want to change? Of course you do. We all want to change something in our lives. Be better, sin less. But how to change – that’s the real question. How does spiritual growth and transformation actually occur in our lives?
Unfortunately, many Christians are trying to change by simply trying to change. But the great gospel paradox is that the more we try to change the more likely it is that we won’t. Sure, we might exchange one behavior for another. But is that the transformation into the likeness of Jesus that we really want and need? Not really.
What Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 3:18 is far more than just behavior modification. It’s much bigger than just what we do. In this single verse Paul gives us the life changing principle for all spiritual growth. And it’s not willpower, it’s worship.
You see when everything has been done for us by our Savior, all striving, all earning, all achieving, all performance, when “it is finished,” all that’s left for us to do is worship. Faith filled worship. Or to use Paul’s language her in 2 Corinthians 3:18 – beholding the glory of the Lord.
When it comes to our spiritual growth, there may be no more important phrase in all of scripture than this. We do not grow by trying to grow. We grow by beholding. All spiritual transformation begins here, with sitting at the feet of Jesus. Gazing at his beauty. Contemplating his glory. Resting in his love. Absorbing his goodness. Receiving his grace.
How do we change? How do we overcome sin in our lives? The common mistake that most Christians make is that they try to overcome sin by focusing on the sin. But this is a great error. How do we overcome a lesser glory (an idol) in our hearts? How do we overcome a lesser love that has stolen our affection? By beholding the greatest display of glory and the greatest act of love in all of history – the cross of Christ.
We will experience the transformation of the indwelling life of Christ as we remember and receive the grace of our salvation:
The grace of the unveiled face. By the power of the gospel, the veil of the law as our source of righteousness has been removed. By God’s grace we can see clearly now. No law keeping will do. No self-righteousness will suffice. We can now see that we need a greater glory than the glory of the law. We need the glory of grace.
The grace of simple beholding. Not working. Not earning. Not striving. Not producing. Not having it all figured out. Just fixing our eyes on Jesus the source and goal of our faith.
The grace of the glory of the Lord in the cross of Christ. When Moses asked to see God’s glory on Mount Sinai, God passed by shouting out his goodness, his grace, his mercy, his love and faithfulness, and his holiness and justice. And where did all of these attributes of God collide? Where was God’s glory most fully displayed? At the cross. The cross is God’s display of love that transforms us as we behold it’s beauty.
The grace of being transformed. Oh it IS happening. Christian, you are changing. You are growing in Christ. And he is growing in you. It’s inevitable. It’s unstoppable. It’s miraculous. It’s supernatural and yet slow and ordinary – from one degree of glory to another. And that’s grace too. Your spiritual growth isn’t a race, and there are no benchmarks to reach each day. You have all of eternity to be conformed to Christ’s likeness.
I know some of you are really frustrated right now. Spiritual growth through beholding? What does that even mean? Just tell me what to do! Give me a list. A 10 step process for transformation. A box to check. A plan of some sort. Whatever happened to the Ten Commandments? At least that was straightforward.
Yes, it was. And it was also a slow faithless death by law keeping. And so is every other check list.
But life comes not when we first DO, but when we first TRUST. It’s faith. Simple faith. Faith is what saved you and faith is what will sanctify you. Beholding. Worshiping. Resting. Receiving.
If every day you are asking, like the Philippian Jailor, “What must I do to be saved (or sanctified)?” Then I pray that every day you will hear Paul’s answer – Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or to say it another way – behold the glory of the Lord.
Yes, this belief will result in action. Yes, good deeds will follow. Yes, God still wants our obedience and service.
But let’s start where “to live is Christ” demands that we must – simple faith. Simple beholding. Simple worship. Simply being loved and simply loving.
Let’s start with freedom.
How have you approached spiritual growth? Would you say it has been faith or works?
You in Christ
How have you seen simply beholding the cross of Christ bring change to your heart?
Christ in you
What do you think it means that we are transformed into the same image as Christ?
Playlist: Beholding the Lord.