2 Corinthians 3:17, 18 “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 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.”
INTRODUCTION: The message of the gospel is about change. Changed in every facet and every area of life. Jesus Christ changes a sinner into a saint. Our salvation was the beginning. The Lord is now in the continuing process of changing us and making us more and more like Himself.
Paul is writing to deal with the false teaching that was going on in the early churches including the church at Corinth. There was a faction of teachers who were Jewish by birth that were insisting that the new believers in Christ keep the Law of Moses. They we insisting upon adherence to the all the stipulations of the Law. The Law surely has its purpose. Paul told the churches of Galatia that it was a schoolmaster or teacher. What does the law teach us? It teaches us that we are sinners. The problem is no human born of man is able to keep the law.
Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
The Law reveals sin but it has no remedy for sin. When we stand before the Law we must conclude as Paul declares in Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Yes, we are sinners in need of repenting of our sin and receiving God’s forgiveness through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice the contrast of 2 Corinthians 3:3 lays out between the epistle (letter) that was written upon tables of stone referring to the Ten Commandments and the epistle of Christ that is written upon the table of the believer’s heart.
The Law provided for a covering for sin. The blood of the countless innocent animals could only make a temporary atonement for sin. Those sacrifices pointed forward to the sacrifice that God would provide that would not only cover sin but wash it away.
Revelation 1:5 “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood”
We look at two very important truths.
I. THE BELIEVER’S LIBERTY IN CHRIST. Vs. 17.
Jesus Christ sets the believer free from sin.
A. THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST GIVES LIBERTY.
The believer has a grand and glorious liberty in Christ. He is no longer under bondage of a Law that he had no ability to keep. Listen to Paul rejoice about that liberty.
Romans 8:1, 2 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
The Law could only condemn but the one set free from the law of sin and death has life and a beautiful liberty that he/she did not have before. When the believer is set free from the law of sin and death he is free to no longer walk or live for the flesh but can now live for Christ after the Spirit.
B. THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST DOES NOT GIVE LICENSE.
Unfortunately, this verse is ripped out of its context and used to excuse ungodly behavior. In my position as a pastor I have heard far too many times, “I can do what I want, I have liberty in Christ.”
This destructive false teaching has produced a false Christianity. It is a “Christianity” that is a direct contradiction of all that Christ came to deliver us from. Jesus did not sacrifice Himself for us to only deliver us from the penalty of sin. He died to deliver us from the power of sin. The person who has been saved from sin’s destruction has also been saved from sin’s direction.
Romans 6:1, 2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
II. THE BELIEVER’S LIKENESS TO CHRIST. Vs. 18.
Paul uses the function of a mirror that is not your normal mirror to describe the power of Christ to change every believer to be like Him. “But we all” describes what Jesus Christ will do for every believer.
A. THE REVEALING OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST. “Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.”
The illustration of the mirror is lifted from the mere reflection of one’s own image to being enabled to behold with the eyes of faith the image of Jesus Christ. That is not an image of stone but the glorious image of the person of our Lord.
When Moses came down from the mountain from where he had been in the presence of the glory of God his face continued to reflect that glory. There was an after glow, if your will, of God’s glory still reflected from Moses’ face. Moses covered his face with a veil to hide that glow. You can read Exodus 34:29-35. Paul refers to that time to describe what has God has done for the believer in Christ.
1.) THE VAIL THAT STILL BLINDS ISRAEL TO SEE CHRIST. Vss. 13-15.
The Jews did not see Jesus for who and what He was. They still do not.
2.) THE VAIL WILL ONE DAY BE REMOVED FOR ISRAEL TO SEE CHRIST. Vs. 16.
3.) THE VAIL IS REMOVED FOR THE BELIEVER TO SEE CHRIST. Vs. 14b. “Which vail is done away in Christ.”
B. THE REMODELING OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST. “Are changed into the same image.”
Believer, this is very important. When that veil is removed for you and you can see the glory of the Lord it has a life changing impact.
When the veil is taken away we can see Jesus in a new and glorious way. We can see Him for who He is and lay eyes on Him, the Lord, in all of His glory, and all of His majesty.
As Moses beheld the glory of the Lord and it left such an impact that he reflected that glory when he returned to the people the Christian reflects the image of Jesus Christ.
C. THE RENDERING OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST. “even as by the Spirit of Lord”
What is it of Christ that the believer reflects? He reflects that which the Spirit of the Lord has done in him. There are many things we could list but we quickly look at just three.
1. THE BELIEVER REFLECTS THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
John 13:34, 35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
2. THE BELIEVER REFLECTS THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST.
Matthew 11:29, 30 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”
3. THE BELIEVER REFLECTS THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST.
Does not the Gospel make an impact on the Christian. The cross of our Savior makes an eternal impression on us.
Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
CONCLUSION: what about the glory of Christ makes the biggest impact on us as believers? You may come to a different conclusion but in considering this I believe the crucified Christ has had the most powerful impact on me.
Having the veil taken away to behold what Jesus suffered to set me free from sin has changed me. He suffered the horrifying cat of nine tails on His body for my sin. The thorns pierced His innocent brow for my sin. The nails were driven into His sinless hands and feet for my sin. The spear pierced His divine side for my sin. My sin caused His death. His death for me changed me and gave me a heart to desire to live for Him? Has He changed you?