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. We all want to be better and 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? Probably not.
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. Or to use Paul’s language her in 2 Corinthians 3:18, all that’s left is 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.
You see, spiritual growth is all of grace.
The grace of the unveiled face – In Christ we can see clearly now. We don’t need the lesser glory of the law. We need the greater glory of grace.
The grace of simple beholding – In Christ no striving, earning, or producing will do. Just look and live.
The grace of the glory of the Lord in the cross of Christ – In Christ we are drawn over and over again to the glory of the cross, where God’s love and justice kissed. The cross is the object of all beholding and the power of all transformation.
The grace of being transformed – In Christ you are changing. You are growing. It’s inevitable. It’s unstoppable. It’s miraculous. It’s supernatural. And yes it is 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.
Does this frustrate you? Spiritual growth through beholding? Are you yelling inside “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.”
Christian, let’s start where “to live is Christ” demands that we must – with simple faith. Simple beholding. Simple worship. Simply being loved. Life comes not when we first DO, but when we first TRUST. That is the only way to be truly transformed.
Becoming by beholding.
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
In what way is beholding Christ’s glory an internal process for you?
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