“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 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” (2 Corinthians 3:17,18, NKJV).
Reading this Scripture portion, I want to catch your attention by asking this question about verse 18. Is it we who are looking into the mirror, or is it that God is looking into us—for we are the mirror? As we shall see, this is important. It is unfortunate that the translation in the Authorized version is not really clear. Almost any other version gives you a clearer picture of verse 18. I’d like to read this verse as J.B. Phillips renders it: “All of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord.”
“With this hope in our hearts, we are quite frank and open in our ministry. We are not like Moses who veiled his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing his fading glory. But it was their minds which were blinded, for even today when the old agreement is read to them, there is still a veil over their minds, though the veil has actually been lifted by Christ. Yes, alas even to this day there is still a veil over their face, when the writings of Moses are read. Yet if they turn to the Lord, the veil would disappear. For the Lord, to whom they could turn, is the Spirit of the new agreement. But wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, men’s souls are set free. But all of us, who are Christians, have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are trans-figured in ever-increasing splendor into His own image. And the transformation comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:12-18 Phillips).
I really appreciate this translation of verse 18. You’ll notice again, please, that it’s not we who are looking into the mirror; it is God who is looking into us—for we are the mirror. We are transfigured in ever-increasing splendor to His own image. When you look in a mirror, you’re not looking for the mirror. You’re looking for the reflection of your own face.
When God made man, and in all of God’s turning to look at man, do you know now what kind of response He’s expecting? A reflection of Himself! When He made man, He said, “Let us make man in our own image” [Gen. 1:26]. In other words, God made man with a faculty which the Bible calls spirit, human spirit, whereby man, the human being, is capable of reflecting God. But then ,this verse takes us a step further than the reflecting and shows us that God is after something really much deeper than that, something much fuller than that. As we reflect His image we are being transformed into that image.
Now as long as I look at a mirror, I can see my image; but I can’t transform the mirror. But we are uniquely designed in the plan of God. As He looks at us, two things happen: firstly, God sees Himself; secondly, we are transformed.
I’ve come to feel that in the Lord’s dealings with man, He always has this in view—that He might see Himself. If this is true, the thing that should concern us is that we might adequately and properly reflect His image, reflect what He is.
Now if you have a mirror at home that doesn’t reflect too well, you’re not going to paint the picture of your face on that mirror so you can see yourself better. Something must happen to the mirror! You’ve got to change the mirror so that it gives a precise reflection of yourself. Often, something clouds the mirror. There was a veil over Moses’ face.;God put it there. Do you know why? It was because Moses was so beautifully reflecting the glory of God that the Israelites couldn’t stand it! They were too far from the character of God.
The Scriptures tell us that a veil is over the minds of those who don’t know the gospel. What does this mean? It means that they are unable to reflect the character of God. They are unable to reflect His image. The Scriptures also tell us that when a man’s heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away; and you behold the Lord. But there’s something even more wonderful than our beholding the Lord! It is that, as the Lord looks at us. He beholds Himself. Is this—I repeat—is this our consuming concern?
You know most of us find we are motivated in our Christian life by what we can get from the Lord. We are motivated by the thought of. “Well, what is there in it for me?” And we even minister the gospel to people on this basis. We insist, “If you’ll come to the Lord, you will feel good. Come to the Lord, and you’ll be happy. Come to the Lord, and He’ll heal you. Come to the Lord, and He’ll do this or that.” The whole emphasis is what you can get out of it.
It’s quite surprising to find that in the Lord’s dealings with man, His emphasis is very different. Man can know satisfaction and fullness only as the Lord is satisfied. God deals with man so that there is a precise reflection of Himself, not so the “mirror” can say, “0h, isn’t this wonderful! It makes me feel so good,” but rather that the purpose of God is fulfilled in man!
Now if you don’t have a mirror, you can’t see your face. Isn’t that right? And this brings us to one of the things that the Lord is ultimately after—the increase of Himself. He purposes the embodying of Himself in a vessel here, there, there, there; and thus the Lord is increasing. He’s not simply increasing people; He’s increasing Himself.
When God told Adam to be fruitful, to multiply and replenish the earth;,the thought in view was not simply a lot of people. Rather the primary intention God had was that Adam was filled with God, his wife filled with God, his children filled with God, his grandchildren filled with God—all would be reflecting the image of God. Thus, God would find the increase of Himself in the earth.
Part 1 of 5. This is one of four chapters in the book, Designed to Express His Life. For ordering information, please contact Grace Fellowship International: firstname.lastname@example.org The compete chapter is online at https://gracenotebook.com/how-can-a-little-clay-pot-express-his-glory/ The author’s web site is http://www.orvilleswindoll.com