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It's an Inside Job
2Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.”
- “Beholding as in a glass”: or "gazing as into a mirror." The truth about who and what God has made us to be in Christ is likened to a mirror in this verse. And to dig a little deeper into the truth of what this verse is communicating, we can also hold a mirror towards the sun and reflect the light onto our faces, or we could consider how the moon reflects sunlight onto the earth. Consider this next statement: It is the introduction of light that dispels darkness, not the dwelling on darkness that introduces light. What do people do when they want to see in the dark? Light.
- “The glory [the manifestation of light radiance, brightness, splendor] of the Lord”: This verse is in the context of New Covenant realities; it is referring to the wonderful things that God has made to be true of His children in Christ (thus also the reason for the word "mirror" used in this verse). There is such a mirror of illuminating truth hanging in the hub article The Christian's True Identity.
- "We": The previous verses in this 3rd Chapter of 2Corinthians show this word "we" as having specific reference to our awareness of and agreement with accomplished realities. This verse shows us how to bring our position in Christ (our true identity) and our walk (our experience) into alignment. In other words, we accept what God says is true as being true - we believe God - we walk by faith..
- “Are changed”: This is the same passive verb (metamorphoo) we see translated as “transformed” in Romans 12:2. This passive verb means we do not change ourselves, we are acted upon. This phrase "we are changed" is not like the sentence, "you picked up the ball," which would mean that you are the subject acting upon the object, the ball. The phrase "we are changed" is like saying "the ball was picked up," where the ball is the subject being acted upon. Here in our verse "the Glory of the Lord" is the subject of and "we" are the object. We are acted upon by "the glory of the Lord." Or in other words, "we are changed" simply as an effect of "beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord." The darkness is dispelled by the light. Yes, we flick the switch, we renew our minds, but it is "the glory of the lord" that is the light, it is that which we renew our minds to, that which illuminates the dark room. The good news from God about His Son Jesus Christ is the power of God, the electricity so to speak (see 1Corinthians1:17-18 and Romans, 1:1-3 and 16-17). We are changed by God from the inside out as we accept truth about our unification with Christ and our new identity in Christ; just look at this next phrase…
- “Into the same image”: The same image which God sees as He looks at us, which is the image of who and what He has made us to be in Christ. When God looks at us He sees us according to what He has made us to be in Christ.
- "From glory to glory": As we keep looking into the mirror of truth about who and what we are in Christ we become more and more Christ-like in our minds, and thereby also in our walks. As believers we believe God. We received our new life in Christ by faith and we walk in it by faith. We allow what God says is true about us to be that which determines how we see ourselves and each other. Have you ever heard the saying "you are what you eat." This verse is basically communicating that same idea. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7a).
- “Even as by the spirit of the Lord”: John 6:63 communicates the same principle truth this way, “It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
In summary of this first section, it's a bit like this: If you are walking into a public toilet area and you see the signs which show "Men" and "Women," do you pull out your ID to see which one of these you are? No. You already know beyond a shadow of doubt, so you simply walk through the appropriate door. When we are fully persuaded of our new identity in Christ we walk accordingly. If someone tries to tell you that you are the opposite sex of what you really are, do you believe them? Of course you don't (well some do I suppose <grin>).
And we will never outgrow the privilege of looking into the mirror of who and what God has made us to be in Christ. I suppose when I start raising the dead and walking on water I might be able to say that I have become fully persuaded; but even then, I will hold on tight to that mirror, I will keep gazing intently, lest my adversary pressure me or pleasure me away from truth in Christ. Until that day when Christ returns, when we shall "know even as we are known," I will keep looking at and confessing those realities listed in the hub article The Christian's True Identity. I will say the same thing God says. I will agree with my Father. He is always right. ALWAYS! This is what glorifies God. If you want a law, fantastic! Here it is, for this topic in the Scriptures explains "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:2).
Moving on to another wonderful passage on this topic of "It's an Inside Job"
Romans 15:4-7 - “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”
- “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning“: This is a great key for rightly dividing the word of truth (2Timothy 2:15). This statement is drawing a line between things addressed to people who were still under the Old Covenant and things addressed to people who are now under the New Covenant (see the hub article The New Covenant). The things addressed to people who were under the Old Covenant are "for our learning." Now this is a deep and rich subject, so for the sake of staying on topic suffice it to say for now that this basically boils down to a few very simply facts: If you were to read someone else’s mail you might learn a lot about that person, and perhaps even about the sender, but you will find more relevance in the mail addressed to you. In this analogy, the Apostle Paul is the mailman and our mailbox finds its center in The Promised Good News. The letters are filled to overflowing with messages of love and grace, from God to us..
- “Now the God of hope and comsolation grant you ro be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God”: This is how we are to think about ourselves and each other. God sees that Christ has already received us to the glory of God. God sees us unified with Christ. If you do not understand what this means just look at what the church epistles say about how God views the resurrected and ascended Christ and our position in him, we can discover a great deal about how God sees us in doing so. We become likeminded with each other to the degree that we are in agreement with what God says is true in Christ.
Moving on to another wonderful passage on this topic of "Changed by the Gospel"
James 1:22-25 - “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
- “But be ye doers of the word”: What does this mean? Let’s keep reading and see what it says:
- “And not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was”: This part shows us what a doer of the word DOES NOT do. A doer of the word does not just hear what God says one minute and then forget it the next.
- “But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work”: This part shows us what a doer of the word DOES do. A doer of the word hears what God says and holds on to it.
A doer of the word is someone who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues therein. Galatians 5:1 puts it this way, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty where with Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." The book of Galatians shows the yoke of bondage to be a matter of basically two things:
- Not accepting Jesus Christ and his accomplishments as being sufficient for our acceptance and walk with God
- Persuing God's favor and a relationship with Him by trying to keep rules and regulations.
The usage of “law” here in James 1:25 in the phrase "the perfect law of liberty" is dealing with authority and power, not written rules or code. Romans 6:18 and 22 speak of being made free from sin by Christ. Our death to sin in Christ has freed us from its dominion; we have been made free from sin and its authority and power over us. In the seventh chapter of Romans (verses 1-6) we see that we have been made free from the law (See also 1Corinthians 15:56). Being united to the living Christ we are free from the law, we are in union with Christ, that we might now serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter (the law, 7:4-6). Romans 6:18, 22 and 7:4-6 reveal that being made free from sin and the law, being united with Christ, in its objective reality, does produce fruit when believed (see also Romans 5:17-21 and 8:10). It's an inside Job!
The summation of what is required of being "a doer of the work" is recorded in verse 25, "looking into the perfect law of liberty (the gospel of grace), and continuing therein. The verbs throughout this passage in James (the things that we are to do, implicit or implied) are to hear, look, remember and continue doing so. Now God never said that this is easy. Quite the opposite actually. He tells us throughout His Word that practically everything and everyone in the world is trying to convince us that we are not who and what He says we are in Christ. And who among us can deny this by our experience or with the Scriptures?
The devil deceives God’s people by getting them to look at their own flesh (their bad thoughts, desires and actions, etc.), and also the flesh of others. The next step Satan takes in getting God’s people to accept his lies is convincing them that they need to work harder at obeying the rules and regulations, A.K.A., law (which is actually the strength of sin... see 1Corinthians 15:56.). But never fear, we find several very pointed and applicable messages of grace against these attacks, as in 2Corinthians 5:16 -17, “Wherefore henceforth we know no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more (we are not to even know Christ after the flesh.). Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Back to James 1:25...
- “Shall be”: This is a middle voice verb, grammatically being used here in the same way as in this sentence, "The father causes his son to be set free."
- “Blessed in his deeds”: The work of looking at what God says is true of us in Christ and holding onto it will produce a walk of genuinely good works. This is walking by the spirit and it is set in sharp contrast to works of the flesh. And we can certainly see this truth clearly and systematically built throughout the church epistles (those 9 letters addressed to each and every Saint in the body of Christ - Romans through 2Thessalonians). These are the “deeds” of the person who holds onto truth and are a byproduct of doing so. This is also referred to elsewhere in the Scriptures as "walking by the spirit" and "by faith". This is why the person is "blessed in his deeds." This verse is not talking about the deeds of forgetful hearers.
Food For Thought
We are in Christ! We are a new creation! We are Saints! Does God still call us sinners? NO! If people disagree just show them the tenses; we “WERE” sinners (Romans 5:8-9, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we WERE yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”). God calls us “Saints” throughout the church epistles because that is how He sees us (Saint = holy and set apart, in Christ).
And here is another terrific key for understanding the Bible: God says what He means and He means what He says. For instance, what does God mean when He says that something is free? What does He mean when He says that something is a gift? What does He mean when He says that we are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)? That’s right! He means what He says and says what He means. Free means free – it does not mean that you have to pay for it, or pay it back, or even pay it forward. If God meant payment required He would have said payment required. Gift means gift – it does not mean wages. If God meant wages He would have said wages. Complete means complete – it does not mean that there is something else that can be added to it. If God meant that we are lacking in Christ He would have said that we are lacking in Christ, He would not have said that we are complete in him.
Now consider what this means regarding the gift of righteousness while reading Romans 5:15-18, “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”
The word free is used three times, the word grace is used three times, and the word gift is used six times... in these four verses alone! Do you think maybe God is trying to make a point? COMPLETELY BY GRACE! IT'S A GIFT! IT'S FREE!
These are the terms of the New Covenant: Free, free, free... oh yeah, did I mention free? Gift, gift, gift, gift, gift, gift... oh yeah, did I mention gift? Grace, grace, grace... oh yeah, did I mention grace? Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). We cannot undo what Christ did for us, and we cannot add a single thing to it. We are complete in Christ. So we do it God’s way, we agree with God about who and what we are in Christ, and thereby our thoughts come into alignment with God’s thoughts, which in turn produces changes in our desires, motives and behavior, etc.. We put off by putting on (see also the hub article Gospel Blessings). God changes us from the inside out!
Romans 1:16a – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God"