We know the goal and that goal is to be more like Jesus. The question many wrestle with is how to accomplish this life-long pursuit. There are many voices telling us what to do, but who’s right?
The first light of dawn in the quest comes when we understand that “we” accomplish nothing. “This comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” as Paul puts it here in 2 Corinthians 3. In other words, the great work of shaping the children of God into the image of Christ is the responsibility and achievement of the Holy Spirit. The believer is only a lump of clay being shaped into the image of Christ by the Potter’s hands. Though I don’t like being called a lump, it is a refreshing dose of truth!
The second light of dawn breaks when we begin to see that we can never move away from Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. We are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Our human tendency is always to move on from the cross, believing things are getting better. We say, “Yeah, I needed the cross to get started, but I’m on my feet now—standing on my own—and I need to concentrate on doing the things Jesus would do (and avoiding the things He wouldn’t do). All of this is a theology of glory (a works righteousness and self-centeredness) and is contrary to all of Scripture.
Paul’s emphasis here in the second letter to the Corinthians is not a theology of glory, but a theology of Christ and His cross. We behold the glory of the Lord and we are transformed by the Holy Spirit over time into the image of Christ.
What does this mean? The believer is to continually focus and meditate on the excellencies of Christ. We might occasionally think about how He benefits us, but that’s not enough and if this is all we do, then our faith will remain weak and our love cold. As the Holy Spirit enables and points us again and again to the Savior, we are to dwell on who He is—His beauty and attributes—and all He has accomplished for us through His humiliation (taking on a body, coming as a servant, dying a substitutionary death for sinners and being laid in a borrowed grave for 3 days) and glorification (resurrection, ascension, intercession, and soon return).
It is then that “…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.”