2 Corinthians 3:18
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Have you ever looked around at the circumstances you are facing and wondered what God is doing in your life? Why it is that you are facing these particular trials, while someone else seems to be immune to them. The answer to that question is tucked away in this verse. Paul writes,
“We… Are being transformed into the SAME image…”
All who have trusted Christ for salvation, have been born again and are in the midst of a process that began at conversion, and will continue until we reach heaven. It is the process of being conformed into the image of Jesus. Paul instructed the Romans that God uses all things to reach that end (Romans 8:28). Every difficulty, every blessing, every person, every trial, is a tool in the hand of the Master to make us more like Jesus. Earlier Paul wrote,
“. . . who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant . . . ” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
One of the ways we are made effective ministers, is that we are being made more like Jesus. The longer we walk with Him, the more we should become like Him. If we are struggling to understand what God is doing with a particular trial, we must look into the pages of His Word, at the person of Jesus, and determine what is lacking in us. I am often frustrated by the way others treat me, but then I am reminded of the way Jesus was treated. I realize God desires for me to love those who don’t love me, to be merciful and gracious to those who are unkind or even hostile. The work of Jesus is being done in me.
Notice, Paul not only tells us what God is doing, but how He does it. He writes, we are being transformed, “by the Spirit of the Lord.” This work of becoming more like Jesus is a work of the Spirit. It is not something that can be accomplished apart from the work of God, or by sheer resolve of heart. It is a work done by allowing the Spirit of God to work within us. A number of years ago, I was sitting on the floor of a church listening to Pastor Chuck teach through John 15. As he explained what it meant to abide in Christ, he said, “God does not want to walk through the factory and see all the work you are doing, He wants to walk through the garden and enjoy the fruit.” I remember being particularly struck by that example, realizing that the secret to my growing in Christ, becoming like Christ, and bearing the fruit of Christ, was spending time with Christ.
It is God’s desire for each of us to become more like Jesus. The more like Him we become, the richer life becomes and the more effective we are in reaching others for the Kingdom. However, it is a work of the Spirit; we must allow the Spirit free reign to speak to us, lead us, and correct us through the Word of God. As we subject ourselves to the work of the Spirit, we will also find that the power of the Spirit is available to us. We will truly become “able ministers of the New Covenant.”
Questions for 2 Corinthians 3
- Because his apostleship has been called into question by some within the church, Paul has found the need to respond to those criticisms. He will do this several times in this letter, but he does not want to do so with just talk. Read verses 1-3. What is this first part of his “resume” as he re-establishes his ministry to the Corinthians? Read Matt 11:16-19, and Matt 7:16-20. As you seek to be a witness for Christ, make sure that you are more than just talk.
- Consider verse 3. God changes us from the inside out, changing our hearts by His Spirit. How has God changed who you are on the inside? In verse 4, Paul states that they have a great trust toward God because of Jesus. How does knowing Jesus help us to trust God? What in His life and character has proved that God is trustworthy?
- In verses 5-6, Paul puts the things he is talking about in perspective: his confidence is not in his self. How has Paul been made sufficient for the ministry to which God has called him? How are we made sufficient?
- Read verses 6-11. The Old covenant, the law, was a relationship based on our performance. Although there were certain glorious things about this covenant (one of which was that God’s holy character was revealed), it is doomed because of our inability to perform to God’s standard. However, the new covenant, Grace through faith, has a greater glory, because this relationship is based on trusting in Jesus’ ability to work through His Spirit. What are some ways that this new relationship with God is better than the old? Note verse 17.
- Paul found a great boldness and confidence in knowing the power of God’s Spirit at work in Him. Do you know this power? Ask God to fill you with His Spirit afresh, that you may walk in His power. What does God want to do with you? Although you are not sufficient for His calling on your life, is He?
- In the same way that the Moses veiled his face, Israel has a veil over their face, and cannot see how the OT scriptures prophesy of Jesus. Read 1Cor 2:12-16. When you read your bible do you ask for understanding from God? Make a habit of it!
- Look at verse 18. As we spend time looking upon, studying, and getting to know Jesus, what happens to us?