“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.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)
At the moment of salvation, we are all blessed beyond measure by the Lord. Lewis Sperry Chafer lists thirty-three different things we are given. Of these he says “They are wrought of God; they are wrought instantaneously; they are wrought simultaneously; they are grounded on the merit of Christ; and, being grounded on the merit of Christ, are eternal.1” Since these riches of God’s grace are eternal our future is secured. We know that at the moment of death we will be with the Lord, that we will reign with Him in His Millennial Kingdom, and that we will be with Him in the eternal state described in Revelation chapters 21 and 22.
But what about now? How is God blessing us during this time between the moment of salvation and the moment when we will be personally with Him? 2 Cor. 3:18 says that we are all being transformed into the same image. This image is the image of Jesus. God’s blessing for is to be made like Jesus. Rom. 8:29 says that God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. Ephesians 1:4 shows that this means we will be made holy and blameless, which is why 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says that it is God’s will that we be sanctified.
This transformation is internal and is a life-long process. “Transformed” in 2 Cor. 3:18 translates the Greek word metamorpheo. You can probably hear an echo of the English word metamorphosis in there. That word may conjure up images of tadpoles turning into frogs or caterpillars becoming butterflies. The Greek word however refers to an inner transformation. A change to what Paul calls our “inner man”. The inner man delights in God’s law (Romans 7:22), is being renewed every day (2 Cor. 4:16), and is being strengthened by the Spirit (Eph. 3:16). This inward transformation is gradual. It is from “glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). In other words, making our hearts, minds, and will more like Jesus is a life-long process. It occupies us from the moment we are saved to the moment we go to be with the Lord.
Furthermore, this transformation is God-wrought. The very end of 2 Cor. 3:18 says that this transformation comes from the Lord. Since God is carrying out this transformation do we have no part to play?
God Uses His Word
God’s blessing includes the unveiling of our face. In the Old Testament there was a veil that covered the holy place in the tabernacle. Then another veil that covered the holy of holies. The full revelation of God’s glory was always obscured. There was even a veil over Moses’ face when it reflect the glory of God in Exodus chapter 34. So to say that our face has been unveiled means that we can see “the glory of the Lord” without obstruction.
When do we behold His glory? In 2 Cor. 3:14 and 15 Paul says that when the old covenant was read by the Israelites their minds were veiled. So, now that our minds have been unveiled, we can clearly see the glory of the Lord when we read scripture.
Some translations like the NASB say that we are beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror. What does this mean? Well, in the first century a mirror was nothing more than a polished piece of metal. To get a clear view of what you look like in a piece of polished metal meant that you had to look closely, carefully, and steadily. That is what our “beholding” is like. With the obscuring veil removed we have the privilege of looking closely, carefully, and steadily into the scriptures to see the glory of the Lord.
More Like Jesus in 2020
The start of 2020 is a great time for us to renew our commitment to read the Bible closely, carefully, and steadily throughout the year. If you do, God guarantees that by the end of the year you will be more like Jesus. If you read the scriptures you will display more of the fruit of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus (Gal. 5:22-23). If you read the scriptures you will be equipped to do everything God calls you to do (2 Tim. 3:17). If you read the scriptures you will possess and grow in the qualities needed to be effective and fruitful in your life (2 Peter. 1:5-8).
So set your intention now to see the glory of the Lord by reading through God’s word in 2020 using the 20/20 vision that God provided. I can guarantee that if you read God’s word you will not be the same person and the end of this year that you were at the end of last year.
“People can tell when a Christian consistently spends time with the Lord. When we spend time in Christ’s presence, we are “transformed” more into His character (2 Cor. 3:18), and other people can detect our Christlike character as if it were a fragrant aroma. Paul had a similar thought in mind when he wrote, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2:14).”2
1 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 234.
2 Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 1073.