2 Corinthians 3:18
“We are transfigured by the Spirit of the Lord in ever-increasing splendor into his own image.” (1 Corinthians 3:18)
What is the normal Christian life? Let us study 2 Corinthians 3:18. This verse seems to sum up all the teaching concerning our Christian life. In the verses that precede verse 18, Paul tells of how Moses had a veil on his face and then he says that the people who are reading the Bible, somehow their minds have a veil on them. Therefore, although they read it or they hear it, they can’t really understand it. So to this day, whenever Scripture is read, a veil lies on their hearts, but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
“But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” This passage, this verse, tells us what our ultimate goal is, and it’s incredible. Perhaps you have been a Christian for some time, and so this is theological verbiage. You’ve heard it. It doesn’t mean anything to you but consider that our goal is to be like God; the glory of the Lord, his glorious person, his character, and not a hidden character at all, but a revealed character, the out-shining of his glory. And we have as our goal to be transformed into the same image as it says here so clearly. Power to live a successful life. a triumphant life. Power to serve God effectively.
But the secret is found in this verse. Glory means different things in different contexts. Usually when we think of the glory of the Lord we’re talking about His character, illuminating His character shining out. And that’s what you are designed for. You were designed as a showcase for the glorious character of God, the beauty of Jesus, and this is the normal Christian life. Now you know the difference between the average and the normal. You know that distinction. The average Christian experience is not the normal Christian life. And when you take the spiritual temperature of the average Christian, and it’s subnormal. It’s not what it ought to be.
Perhaps you are a Christian worried when your circumstances are worrisome. Who’s short fused when your circumstances are provocative. Who is impure. Who is self-centered. You are very much concerned about your self-image. You are very much concerned about whether things are going in a way to build your reputation and to make you comfortable.
And this is the average experience of the world, and it’s the typical experience of many Christians. But only a minority of Christians are normal. The majority have the average experience very much like the world. But we were designed to let our light shine before men, that men may see our behavior, our good work, and give glory to God, who’s in heaven. And then they praise God for what has been done.
What answers are given to this problem of weak faltering, failing Christians, the distortion of the image of God. Paul says in Galatians. “Are you so foolish?” No, he says. “If we live by the Spirit, if we’ve come to life by the Spirit. That is so exciting. because it is God, the Holy Spirit that will do it.” The Christian life is not a self-initiated struggle towards some distant and unreachable peak or perfection. And the Christian life is not an instant magical sainthood in which God does it and we’re not involved.
Cooperating with the Spirit is like a ski rope. A kind of a cable, and with a pulley at the top and a pulley at the bottom and a motor. Skiers do not get to sit comfortably, but they go over and grab hold front and back and there is some external power that was pulling them up on the way. That really is what the Christian life is like. You can’t make it on your own. There is external power there and there’s an internal power here. And God’s going to take you, but you have a responsibility. You have a response. Actually it’s a two-fold response. So it’s God who does it. God, the Holy Spirit.
But of course he dwells within. God the Holy Spirit does not work in your heart, sort of in a vacuum, and just sort of chisel away at your wrong thinking, and work away and try to mold you into right thinking. He doesn’t do that. Basically, when he wants to make you over to look like Jesus, he uses what the theologians call the means of grace, also called the tools of the Spirit. These various means of grace that God the Holy Spirit uses to change you around to be a very beautiful replica or likeness to the Lord Jesus himself. Will you hold on with both hands to the source of power to live the normal Christian life?