How many different sermons have you ever heard talking about being changed from glory to glory? Personally, I’ve heard a bunch. Many of them have come to different conclusions to what the Holy Ghost is trying to say to us through Apostle Paul.
That’s not to say that any of them are wrong or unbiblical, but this isn’t the type of verse where you can read it, digest it, and move along to chapter 4. Verse 18 is deep, rich, and simple all at once. Here’s the verse…
2 Corinthians 3:
18 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.
With Open Face
Throughout this whole chapter, Paul has been using the veiled glory of Moses as an example of the former glory of the letter, or the Old Testament Laws (the Old Covenant). And the New Covenant given to us by the Spirit is glory unveiled.
The verse above is Paul’s final thought concerning this matter. This is one tense of this verse that makes sense in relation to the rest of the chapter. All of the mysteries of the Old Covenant hidden under a veil, are approachable as with an open face through the Spirit of the Lord.
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
The Lord tells us elsewhere, that it’s his glory to hide a matter, but the honor of kings to search it out. Well Saints, we’re kings and priests according to the Father, through Christ Jesus! It is an honor for us to have the capacity through the Spirit of the Living God, to search out what he’s hidden through his glory.
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
And we can do so with open face. Without concealing the glory that is upon us from on high through the covenant granted to us in Christ. The Spirit of God aids us with the Word, opening our eyes to see, and our hearts to receive. All with an open or unveiled face, an unveiled heart, unveiled eyes, and an unveiled mind- even the mind of Christ!
Beholding as in a Glass
A mirror. He’s talking about a mirror. Know why I found it important to make that clear? Because, for the longest time, I read this and assumed it as a glass- you know, a cup. Never did make too much sense to me, and I figured that I needed some revelation.
Are we looking into the cup?
Are we in the cup looking out to the Glory of God?
Well, revelation came. Perhaps later than it came for anyone reading a version different that the KJV, but it came nonetheless.
Beholding as in a mirror, that makes much more sense, and what a thing to think about! Forget the cup.
What is the Holy Ghost trying to get through to us, when talking about “with an open face as in a glass, beholding the glory of the Lord?”
The Morning Mirror
The focus here, isn’t only the mirror itself, but more along the lines of how we behave whilst in front of one. I get there due to the “with an open face” part.
Who puts on a veil before taking their first look at themselves in the morning, or who’s pre-beautified themselves with makeup for women, or after having already shaved and combed their hair for men?
When you wake up in the morning, drag yourself into the bathroom, and take a gander at yourself in the mirror, you see every ugly detail that you’d prefer to later on, conceal from the world, or do away with. Right?
Every blemish, imperfection, bed head, whitehead, blackhead, wrinkle, or yellow teeth, can be seen plainly at your first stop at the mirror in the morning. Starting to seem a bit strange that Paul uses this as a reference huh?
That mirror (if it’s in good shape) will tell you everything you want to know and everything you don’t want to know. But what is our reaction as we behold ourselves in the mirror with a full unveiled face?
Well, most people would find while looking in the mirror, any imperfections in their power to remove, wash off, or cover, and proceed to take care of it. Brushing teeth, combing hair, shaving, make-up, flexing, posing, etc… Well, maybe not so much the last two (at least not that anyone would admit).
But we’re not scared to approach and behold ourselves in the mirror. We’re more ourselves when we are alone in the bathroom beholding our reflection in the mirror, than we are anywhere else, or in front of anyone else. That’s the same openness that the Lord God would have us use with him.
Alright, so what? What does any of this have to do with this verse?
The Lord isn’t waiting on us to get our act together before coming unto him for salvation- just the opposite! Jesus came to save the lost, not to save everyone who already has their act together. Someone who’s just woken up and stumbled into the bathroom, looking at their ugly selves, is every bit as qualified to be saved as someone who’s just walked out of the bathroom perfumed, cleaned up, and beautified.
We can come boldly to the Father’s throne of grace, Just as we can come boldly to stand in front of a mirror, without a veil, without anything to hide ourselves. Jesus has taken our sins and stains, and has washed them away, taking them as far from us as the east is from the west. We can approach the Father with an open face through Christ Jesus.
We’ve been changed from one glory to the next through the Spirit of the Lord, and through receiving and believing the finished works of Christ Jesus. We become a new creature in Christ, Born Again, a new born spirit welling inside of us.
Where the former glory dealt with things carnally or in the flesh (from the outside in), the newer, more excellent glory is handled and dealt with by the Spirit, into our spirit (from the inside out). We’ve been taken from glory to glory.
Those are changes that aren’t inside of our control, but is the fruit of being born anew. But there are things that the mirror (the Word) will open our eyes to, that will need attention. Once we’ve obediently corrected whatever has been shown to us by said mirror (the Word of God), we move along to the next item should there be any. All the while, gaining in wisdom, understanding, knowledge of the Holy One, and partaking even more deeply in the glory of God.
The Father says plainly in the Word, that he doesn’t dish out his own glory. His grace, yes. But not his glory.
8 I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.
If this is the case, how did Moses wind up with the glory of God shining through his face? Answer is, he drew near to God.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
The Word of God is a mirror that helps us to draw nearer to the Father. Along with having a heart after his own, being obedient to his Word, praising him, giving him all the glory for everything, doing our part to draw nearer to him- he draws nearer to us.
As he does this, we get closer and closer to his glory. He’s not tearing a piece of glory off of himself and handing it over to us. We’re partaking in his glory due to our proximity to him.
That’s literally what happened with Moses. As literally as one could get. He spend days and nights up on that mountain standing right there with the Father. But even still, that glory shining off of Moses was not his own, though it shone through him. It was God’s glory, and the effect of God’s glory, which had to be covered with a veil in order to correspond with the masses.
This might not be the most comprehensive study into this verse, I know. But I hope at least that there are a few things that might give you something to think about. Or something to dive into the Word of God about.
We’ve been born into a period of time where we don’t deal with the former glory too much, but typically go from heathenism to the latter glory. At least this is true for those of us who didn’t start off Jewish.
This may be a good reason why so many of us Christians don’t understand why it’s important to dig back into the Old Testament, and retrieve from the former glory all of the treasures that have been opened up to us through the new.
All of scripture is spiritually profitable, good for the growth of the spirit, and carefully detailed by the Holy Ghost, to draw us closer to the Father. When his Word is applied properly in our lives, we might not notice the changes going on within us, but others certainly will, just as Moses didn’t know about the shining face till someone told him about it.
And so we go forward, without the veil, open faced- as if in front of a mirror.
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- Blinded Minds – 2 Corinthians 3 Part 4
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 25 P. 374 – Honor of Kings
- Veiled Hearts – 2 Corinthians 3 Part 5
- Ministration of Righteous – 2 Corinthians 3 Part 3
- Preaching 101 – 2 Corinthians 4 Part 3