2 Corinthians 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…
I. WHAT THIS CHANGE IS. Into the Divine likened. This, which was lost through the Fall, is recovered in the gospel. Believers become like Christ, who is the Brightness of the Father's glory, and the express Image of his person (Hebrews 1:3). The change is not merely of opinion, or feeling, or even conduct, but a change of being. It is not something connected with ourselves, but our very selves which are changed, and changed so as to be like Christ.
1. A marvellous change. For before men believe, they are singularly unlike Christ. By nature like Satan; by grace like Christ.
2. An all-desirable change. For ennoblement, peace, joy, usefulness.
II. THE MASTER OF THE CHANGE. It follows upon turning to the Lord (ver. 16). As Moses, standing before God, was singularly changed in countenance, so that his face reflected the Divine glory, so we are changed as we are turned towards Christ, as we turn towards him in penitence and faith and in desire to be his. The figure of a mirror is employed.
1. We may read "reflecting as a mirror," and then the idea conveyed will be that, as Christ shines upon us, as he acts upon us, we become changed. Or:
2. If we read "beholding as in a mirror," the thought will be that, as we gaze upon Christ as he is reflected in the mirror of the gospel, we become like him. Both thoughts are correct, though it is by the Divine action we are changed, our looking upon Christ being only the means by which the Divine action reaches us.
III. A SPECIAL FEATURE OF THE CHANGE. Progressive - "from glory to glory." The change is often gradual. There is a great fundamental change at conversion. A condition of "glory" is reached, but there is a glory beyond this. We "grow in grace." At first we are "babes in Christ," but we develop into the stature of perfect men in him (Ephesians 4:13). Conversion is but the first stage. Many seem to think that it is the final one. Justification is enough for them; sanctification is not in their thoughts. But this is not the salvation of Christ. We are saved for holiness, for usefulness, for the service of God, and as continuously we gaze upon Christ in faith, and as his power falls upon us, we pass into a further "glory."
IV. A CONDITION OF THE CHANGE. Our face unveiled. And here face stands for heart. The veil occasioned by the old enmity, by prejudice, by misconception, by ignorance, must be removed. This will be so with all who in sincerity turn to the Lord. "When it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away" (ver. 16). The more completely our face is unveiled the more rapidly shall we pass from "glory to glory." We should strive to remove all that is likely to hinder our development into the likeness of Christ. Anything that comes between ourselves and him will do this. Heart veils are of very various patterns.
V. THE STRIKING USEFULNESS OF THE CHANGE. Adopting the reading "reflecting as a mirror," we see that:
1. Those who turn to the Lord reflect the glory of the Lord. They show forth Christ. Men take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus. They reflect the redemptive glory of Christ. They exemplify the power of his salvation. They are monuments upon which is inscribed "Christ, and him crucified." They reflect the love of Christ in Christian activity. Having been saved themselves, they desire the salvation of all around them. What a thought, that we may reflect, Christ!
2. As they seek to reflect Christ the change progresses. It is when we are diligent in the Master's business, when we consecrate ourselves to him, when we strive to set him forth in daily life, that we become changed into his image. As we strenuously endeavour to be like him we become like him. Our endeavour to reflect him is responded to by the change in us which enables us to reflect him. Reflecting his glory as a mirror, we are changed into the same image.
VI. THE WORKER OF THE CHANGE. The Holy Ghost, "the Lord the Spirit." Christ working by his Spirit, who takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us. "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my Name" (John 14:26). The work is Divine; it calls for Divine power. We cannot work this change, yet we can "turn to the Lord," that it may be worked, - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.