Skip to content

We Shall See Him and Be Like Him Series

July 2, 2007

Several months back I finished a series of posts on the defeat of sin through the meditation on the Person and glory of Jesus Christ. Here is that series in one post:

Index:
Part 1 – Meditations on Jesus and the Defeat of Sin

Part 2 – By His Cross I Can Hate Sin and Taste the Sweetness of the Lord

Part 3 – A Granted Escape to Glory and Excellence

Part 4 – A Purifying Hope

We Shall See Him and Be Like Him

Part I

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be
has not yet appeared;but we know that when he appears we shall
be like him,because we shall see him as he is.

I John 3:2

 

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

In the third chapter of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrims Progress, Christian, the allegorical character representing the believer in his journey to eternal blessedness, has just left the foot of the cross. His heavy burden has been lifted and his rags replaced by a new garment. He has come upon the Beautiful House, where Christian dialogues with Porter, Piety, Prudence, and Charity. Prudence asks Christians about any hindrances that he has had in his journey since he has left the City of Destruction. Christian tells of “carnal cogitations” or thoughts that were of his old nature, and explains, “Now all those things are my grief.” She then asks Christian by what means he uses to fight off these sins (or as he calls them, “annoyances.”) Christian’s reply is at the very heart of what my aim is of my writing:“When I think what I saw at the Cross, that will do it; when I look upon my broidered coat [his gift of the righteousness of Christ], that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about where I am going [the Celestial City], that will do it.”

The means by which Christian fights off temptation, or “carnal cogitations,” is thinking on the very glory of Christ crucified, where his sins were forgiven and he was given the righteousness of Christ. The glory of Christ and its benefits are the meditations Christian uses to fight for holiness.

Fighting for holiness can be a confusing subject. Scripture presents two sides of this fight: the active and the passive. The active is the tearing out of your eye out because it causes you to stumble (Matt. 18:9), fleeing from youthful lusts and sexual immorality (I Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22), and controlling one’s “own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust” (I Thess. 4:4-5). This is the act of canceling your Internet service because you have created deadly habits, the self-control, and disciplining your body to keep it under submission (2 Cor. 9:27).

Scripture also presents the passive side of the fight. Romans 6 says were once slaves to sin – only able to crave sin in our life – but now slaves of righteousness –now desiring righteousness. “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness…. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:20, 22). Nothing in slavery is active, other than what you are compelled to do. Being enslaved to sin, you were compelled to sin and nothing else. Being enslaved to God and righteousness, you are compelled to the fruit of sanctification. The juxtaposition between the two natures of the fight for holiness is hard to reconcile and difficult to articulate in the daily struggle against sin.

There are, however, many books on the subject of sanctification and with it are many readers. The many readers, I am afraid, have the expectation that by the time they finish the book the struggle with sin should be largely behind them. And in the spirit of supply-and-demand, authors attempt to supply the demand, stocking our churches with shallow and trite remedies for sin, like offering cough syrup for lung cancer. The fight to kill sin becomes a frustrating and hopeless endeavor that dangerously flirts with the hardening power of “the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13).

The Glory of Christ and the Death of Sin

This effort of mine is pastoral in nature. Every pastor wants his congregation to move from the desperate struggle of sin into the sweet, daily enjoyment of the goodness and holiness of Christ. Every pastor longs for his congregation to move from the imitation calentures of sin to the enjoyment of Jesus and the desire to have Christ as their treasure, delighting in his glory that turns the sun and the moon into shadows. This is the end to which a shepherd should lead his flock: to see Christ as glorious and beautiful. Yet, to treat this end as only an end would go against the testimony of Scripture. Seeing Christ as glorious and beautiful is also, I believe, the means. And thus is my proposition that the consistent, daily meditation on the glory of Christ is a vital and indispensable practice in killing the weight of sin in the life of the believer.

The Apostle John reveals what kind of affect the glory of Christ has on the believer, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). As children of God, we have a future that is not entirely known to us, but what we do know is that at the coming of Christ, we will be dramatically transformed. John is quick to give the cause of this transformation, “because we shall see him as he is.” The appearance of the glory of Christ will completely destroy our corrosive nature and sinful flesh and be transformed into the very likeness of Christ, himself. We could literally translate this passage as “we shall be of the same nature.” We shall see and be of the nature of the holy, good, and incorruptible resurrected body of Christ. We can conclude that the sight of the glory of Christ kills sin instantly and destroys the nature that desperately clings to sin and destruction.

Yet, it would seem that I John 3:2 is beyond the point of our subject, since this speaks of what will happen at the coming of Christ rather than the daily struggle of sin while in the wait of his coming. This is the famous “already – not yet” paradox of the New Testament. The New Testament teaches us what we are in Christ but have not yet truly attained. For example, Ephesians 2:5-6 says that God has “made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul speaks in the past tense, as if we have already been raised up and seated in glory with Christ. But, clearly, we have not yet attained all that is truly already ours.

2 Corinthians 3:18, I believe, will help sort out the “already – not yet” holiness of I John 3:2, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3, is showing the difference between the hopeful New Covenant in Christ and the damning and joyless Old Covenant. The New Covenant gives us hope (see also part IV), which leads to courage, and we, shamelessly, with unveiled faces behold the very glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ. And, again, the glory we are beholding transforms us to greater and greater degrees of glory.

The difference between the full disclosure of the glory of Christ in I John 3:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 is shown precisely at the end of 2 Corinthians 3:18, “For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” The communion and exposure to the glory of Christ we have now is only through his Spirit, whom he has sent. This is not a physical communion yet. God’s dwelling place is not yet with man. This should not be entirely discouraging. What we have on earth through the Spirit, though it is infinitely less satisfying than what will be in the flesh with Christ, is still richly and abundantly satisfying and should be the chief means by which we fight sin.

Why Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity?

The question may arise, ‘Why the focus on Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, rather than the whole godhead?’ While all three persons of the Trinity are equally glorious and beautiful in measure, it is Jesus Christ, the Son, who Scripture has been designated for us as the avenue to the eternal communion we will have with the Trinity. The Gospel of John is explicit in this designation of Christ.

John 1:41; 18, “And the World became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” The eternal Son, Jesus Christ, became flesh and settled with man. God, himself, revealed himself as flesh. Jesus became the explanation of the Father in heaven, the Word of God, “he has made him known.” This passage seems to cry out the truth that if you do not know Jesus, you do not know God. The Father has designated his Son, Jesus Christ, as the means by which he makes himself known.

Philip, Jesus’ disciple, in John 14:8, says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Philip, obviously, still did not understand that God revealed himself through Jesus, to which Jesus says, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Earlier in the passage Jesus explained that he is the only way to the Father (14:6), and if you know Jesus then you know the Father (14:7-8).

In Jesus’ final prayer for his disciples in John 17, Jesus prays not only for the disciples, but also for all that would believe.

The glory that you have given me I have given to them that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (John 17:22-23).

Jesus describes his relationship with his believers and his relationship with the Father being linked all together as one, through Christ. We are in Christ and Christ is in the Father. The Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to show himself and his love that he has for his children. Apart from the wonderful truth that Jesus Christ has appeased the wrath of Father towards the believer, he is the sent agent from the Father who will include us in the eternal communion between the Father and the Son. The infinite satisfaction the Father has in the Son, and the Son in the Father, we are now partakers of because of Jesus. Jesus ends his prayer by clarifying this wonderful hope: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (17:26)

The Ever-increasing Practice of Being Satisfied in Christ

Jonathan Edwards writes in his book, The Religious Affections:

“A true saint, when in the enjoyment of true discovery of the sweet glory of God and Christ, has his mind too much captivated and engaged by what he views without himself, to stand at that time to view himself, and his own attainments. It would be a diversion and loss which he could not bear, to take his eye from the ravishing object of his contemplation, to survey his own experience, and to spend time thinking with himself.”

This was not quoted from a man who was a perfectionist, but one who knew that the glory of Christ had a transforming power, that in the every-increasing knowledge and discovery of it, sin would become less and less appealing. Not only sin, but also selfish endeavors that would damper the ecstasy of the glory of Christ.

No author has been more helpful to me on this subject than John Owen, especially in his work The Glory of Christ. Owen argues that the center of the life of every believer should be the glory of Christ. Remarking on Jesus’ prayer in John 17, Owen writes:

“The greatest desire that Christ expressed in his prayer was that his people might be with him to behold his glory (17:24)…. He is not concerned that his disciples should merely see how glorious he was, but that the beholding of his glory might bring encouragement, strength, satisfaction, and blessedness to his disciples…. One of the greatest privileges the believer has, both in this world and for eternity, is to behold the glory of Christ.” 2

Beholding the glory of Christ is a privilege and it should be savored. The satisfaction that the glory of Christ delivers to believers is like a rapture of flavor that fruit brings to one who has never had the sense of taste before. Simply satisfying the hunger with anything less will just not do any longer. So it is with the glory of Christ. As long as the glory of Christ is set before us, satisfying longings for joy and gladness with anything less will be inadequate.

This, then, is the practice of meditating on the glory of Christ: always keeping it before you. Every morning in my devotions, whatever I am praying for at the time, I always have a list of prayer requests I mention before saying amen. One of them is my request for Christ to remind me of himself throughout the day. When I am reminded of his beauty, holiness, goodness, and mercy [all pertaining to the glory of Christ] I know that anything else that attempts to momentarily replace Christ as my treasure is a lie. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says this about the instant sin replaces Christ as most beautiful in our life, “At this moment God… loses all reality… Satan does not fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God.”3 The beautiful, captivating, transforming glory of Christ should ever be before us.

Notes
1 Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, 178.
2 John Owen, The Glory of Christ, 2.
3 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Temptation, 33.

 

 

We shall See Him and Be Like HimPart II

 

 

By His Cross I Can Hate Sin and Taste the Sweetness of the Lord

 

 

4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

 

 

Romans 6:4-6

 

 

8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

 

 

Psalm 34:8

 

Charles Spurgeon once said,

 

Recollect that there are two kinds of perfection which the Christian needs — the perfection of justification in the person of Jesus, and the perfection of sanctification wrought in him by the Holy Spirit. At present, corruption yet remains even in the breasts of the regenerate — experience soon teaches us this. Within us are still lusts and evil imaginations. But I rejoice to know that the day is coming when God shall finish the work which He has begun; and He shall present my soul, not only perfect in Christ, but perfect through the Spirit, without spot or blemish, or any such thing.

Spurgeon presents the accomplishment of justification and sanctification as grace, something that is accomplished on our behalf. Then we read in Romans 6:13 specific commands on how to act, “Do not present your members to sin… present your members to God.” You almost want to scream at the Apostle Paul, I’m trying! Yet amidst the passage on sanctification and battle to be found more and more in the image of Christ that Romans 6 speaks of, we read in verse 17, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient to the heart.” And at the end of chapter 7, after reading of the struggle of what the author wants to do, but cannot help to do otherwise (or whomever you believe Paul is describing) in verse 24-25 Paul writes, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” You don’t thank someone unless they are personally responsible for what was accomplished.

Therefore, we can say we are saved and sanctified by grace through faith and we will be glorified also in the same manner. Yet, we must stay faithful to texts that compel us to fight for our holiness. Ephesians 6:10-20 displays for us the armor of God. There would be no need for armor if there was no battle. But as in Romans 8:37, “In all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” We must preserve this paradox between battling and being battled for.

I believe this paradox should be realized in our daily fight with sin and our battle for holiness. We should be fighting daily to defeat sin and temptation with faith knowing that we are being empowered with a greater power, namely the Holy Spirit. So then, in my explanation of how one can hate sin, know that it is within the envelope of grace, meaning there is more to our fight than just our own efforts.

The Emancipation of the Believer

My whole assertion in this series of We Shall See Him and Be Like Him is that the primary weapon that the believer has in the defeat of sin is the meditation on the glories of Jesus Christ. The more we see Christ for who he is revealed in Scripture, the less sin will be compelling and desirable. If you have not read Part I Meditations on Jesus and the Defeat of Sin, and you would like to, you can read it here. The question worth looking into in all this is: By what factor do I exchange my sinful desires for Christ?

The answer that one might be quick to jump to is “the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.” This is absolutely true, but before the Holy Spirit can re-birth someone, that someone needs to be dead. The only death that leads to the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit is the cross of Christ with which we participate in. Romans 6:4-6 will help explain this further:

4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

I split the passage into two parts, (1) verses 4-5 and (2) verse 6. (1)Verses 4-5 say the same thing only in two different ways; therefore we need to take them as parallel statements. Verse 4 asserts that we were put to death with Christ so that we would be raised with him and have a new life. Verse 5, then, states it in a condition. If we have participated with Christ in his death, then we will participate with Christ in a resurrection. We should not interpret “a resurrection” as in the second coming of Christ and our bodily resurrection. Since verse 5 is parallel with 4, then when verse 4 asserts that we will have a “newness of life” we parallel that with “a resurrection”. Plainly put, our participation with Christ in his death gives us new life that is entirely different from before. The difference is so extreme that Paul compares it to a resurrection.

(2)Verse 6 has an interesting grammatical structure, rendering English translations slightly misleading. The result in the verse is clear: we are no longer slaves to sin. But what is not apparent is the cause of this result. It seems clear from the English translation that our crucifixion with Christ that renders our body of sin to nothing is the cause of freedom from sin. This is true, but it is not what the verse actually says. A clearer translation would be as follows:

“Since we know that our old self was crucified with him in order that our body of sin might be brought to nothing, we are to serve sin no longer.”

The verse is not saying what frees us from sin, but what keeps us from acting like we are slaves to sin. The reason we no longer act as slaves is because we have come to the knowledge of our actual freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln and put into effect on January 1, 1863. However, not all slaves stopped working for their masters on January 1. It was not until they were told and they finally attained the knowledge of their freedom did they have the liberty to not act as slaves any longer. So it is with believers. Paul places some importance on the knowing that we are free from sin in order that we may act as freed slaves. The knowing keeps us from acting differently. In verse 11, Paul says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin.” Paul uses the “consider”, meaning to think of yourself as dead. Other translations use the word “reckon”. ‘Reckon yourselves to be dead.’ The slave must learn of his emancipation before he acts as if he is free. If there is ever a Biblical charge to learn of your union with Christ, it is found in Romans 6:6-11.

Here, then, is the two parts of our passage: (1) We die with Christ in order that we may live a new life like his resurrection. (2) Since we have the knowledge of our freedom, we should act like we are free.

The Sweet Taste of the Lord

We are now freed from the mastery of sin by Christ, the Emancipator of sinners, to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). From the captivation of sin to the participation in the death of Christ we now have obtained, if you will, new taste buds, new eyes, and a new sense of smell. 1 Corinthians 2:14, 16 explain the difference between the two stages, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned…. But we have the mind of Christ.” The Spirit of God stirs in us good and holy affections for God that the natural man cannot even comprehend. We have a whole new sensory system. We do not simply have a changed mind, but a whole new mind – the mind of Christ. We cannot “taste and see that the Lord is good” with natural eyes and natural taste buds, but only with entirely new sensations, nothing of which was there before.

In Matthew 13, Jesus’ explanation for speaking in parables was because “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (13:13). But he said to those who believed, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” The people heard Jesus’ words yet did not hear with the power of the Holy Spirit, enlightening their hearts. They heard without truly hearing. Jonathan Edwards used his illustration of tasting honey in a number of his writings. It goes like this: I may tell a person that honey is sweet and give him an excellent argument for the sweetness of honey, but if he tastes it and he does not think it is sweet there is nothing I can do further for him. Either he has a taste for the sweetness of honey or he doesn’t. Either someone has the Spirit given taste buds to taste the sweetness of Christ or they don’t. The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2:14, describes himself as a means God uses to spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of [God] everywhere.” He describes it as an aroma “from life to life” to those who are saved (2:16b). But those who do not have the new supernatural sensory system it is a “fragrance of death to death (2:16a). By the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit we may see, taste, hear, and know the knowledge of the Lord.

Yet, what is it of the Lord that we need a supernatural sensory system to see, hear, taste, and know? The answer is the goodness, holiness, and the moral perfection of the Person of Christ. Without this knowledge, we do not know him any different than the devils of this world know him. Without this knowledge, we do not know him as our Perfect Mediator. If we do not see and savor the perfection of Jesus and the holiness of the unique Son of God, then the precious blood of Christ has no significance in our lives. We must first love and treasure his holiness for the rest of the affections towards him to follow. We love his majesty because it is a holy majesty. We adore his glory because it is a holy glory. We take delight in his love because it is a holy love. All affections towards God are derived from his holiness. Taste and see, by the sensory giving power of the Spirit, that Christ is holy and relish it.

See Him and Taste Him and be like Him

Christ is set before us to feast on. He makes that clear to us in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” He describes himself in verse 55 as “true food” and “true drink.” Later in chapter 6, after many of Jesus’ disciples had left because his words were difficult to take and caused grumbling among the people, Jesus asked his twelve disciples, “Do you want to go away as well”(v. 67)? Simon Peter’s response shows that the disciples were starting to taste the satisfying goodness of Christ, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God” (v. 68). While this verse has much meaning, more than we can uncover here, we can see at face value that the disciples were not swayed to leave as the rest because they fed and were satisfied by the Holy One of God, Jesus Christ. And so it is with all believers. If we are fed and satisfied with Christ, specifically in the context of his holiness, things that are contrary in nature will have less and less sway on us. As it has been said, “for he who sees the beauty of holiness must necessarily see the hatefulness of sin, its contrary.” We have redeemed eyes, taste buds, ears, and minds to daily take in from his Word the holiness of Christ and know that there is nothing, no lust, no passion, no desire that is more satisfying than Christ. May the explicit, holy, good, and satisfying glory of Christ be ever before us. How do we fight? Always put God’s Word that contains the holiness of Christ before our eyeballs and become more and more acquainted with the knowledge of it.

 

 

We Shall See Him and be Like Him Part III
A Granted Escape to Glory and Excellence

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires
2 Peter 1:3-4

On 8 June 1941, C.S. Lewis gave a sermon at the Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin entitled The Weight of Glory. In it he describes different kinds of rewards. One type is a “mercenary reward” which is “the reward which has no natural connection with the things you do to earn it and is quite foreign to the desires that ought to accompany those things.” He gives examples like marrying a woman for money. Money is the proper reward for marriage, but marriage is the proper reward for a genuine lover. Lewis describes proper rewards as those “not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation.” So for example, a school boy who learns Greek in order to enjoy Greek poetry may not at first comprehend the reward at the end like those who are already at the stage of enjoying Greek poetry. This is like those who have already obtained everlasting life with God, our ultimate reward. We cannot begin imagine how great and glorious our reward will be “except by continuing to obey and finding the first reward of our obedience in our increasing power to desire the ultimate reward.” Our first reward is the supernatural power to desire more and more the future reward of the presence of the glory of God. Lewis eloquently describes this transformation by saying, “poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship.”

Exposure Based Sanctification
This is the equation that I believe Lewis gets right: exposure transforms desires and desires transform obedience. In other words, the more we expose ourselves to the revelation of Christ, God’s communication with man, the more our desires are transformed, and the more our desires are transformed, the more our obedience will do likewise. All this is not to gain the ultimate reward, but to desire it more. This is not a “works based salvation” but an “exposure based sanctification.” This has, of course, been the theme of this whole series. The more we see Christ, the more we shall be like him – “we shall be like because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

His Glory and Divine Power Changes Everything
In Part II of this series, By His Cross I Can Hate Sin and Taste the Sweetness of the Lord, I tried to explain by what factor we exchange the desires of sin for desires of the sweetness of the Lord. How are we able to say to one another “taste and see that the Lord is good.” As explained through Romans 6:4-6, it is through the participation of the death and resurrection of Christ, so that we a new supernatural sensory system. We have new eyes, taste-buds, ears, and a mind. The glory of Christ becomes an aroma from life to life everlasting (2 Cor. 2:16).

At this point I believe 2 Peter 1:3-4 becomes very helpful in (1) understanding the means by which God transforms us to life and godliness and (2) how we are granted an escaped from sin and corruption and cause a domino effect of understanding in our fight with sin.
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4)

From Romans 6:4-6, we understand that to even the capability to desire Christ and to have a taste for his goodness we need to participate in a death and resurrection like his. From this death and resurrection we have a new taste for Christ and his goodness. We can say then that God uses our new taste buds for the glory of Christ to change everything. 2 Peter 1:3-4 deals directly with Christ’s divine nature, power, glory, and excellence and its affect on us. Peter lists for us many affects Christ glory has on us: (1) His divine power grants us everything we need for life and godliness. (2) He has called us to salvation by glory and goodness (which can also be translated as divine excellence). (3) Through his glory and goodness we have very great promises so that we may (4) participate in his divine nature. (5) Through participation in the divine nature (which is the glory of God reflected and working in us) we escape sin and corruption. We can safely say that the glory of Christ is the cause of every supernatural change in the life of the believer.

The Glory of Christ as a Means for Our Daily Sanctification
The first two parts of this series, part I Meditations on Jesus and the Defeat of Sin, and part II By His Cross I Can Hate Sin and Taste the Sweetness of the Lord have been by and large conceptual or mostly abstract notions without much practical ways to accomplish it. I have taken little time on how to appropriate this to the daily struggle with sin and temptation believers face. These are the only two places of application:
This, then, is the practice of meditating on the glory of Christ: always keeping it before you (end of part I)

And,

How do we fight? Always put God’s Word that contains the holiness of Christ before our eyeballs and become more and more acquainted with the knowledge of it (end of part II).

A part of me wants to say that is enough. Let truths of the glory, goodness, holiness and beauty of Christ burn in the heart of a believer like seed in a fertile ground and just watch growth, transformation, maturity, even life for that matter happen. It appears that often people believe that meditating on the person of Christ revealed in Scripture for an effectual change in their life doesn’t work fast enough for them. We need lists of strategies to stop habits. We need methods on how to flee properly. But if we don’t incessantly put before our eyes the severe contrast of our sin and the perfect and holy glory of Christ, then the steam behind those strategies and methods will soon be gone – like a string doll, it can entertain children but for only the length of the string. So it is with us. Only the infinite glory of Christ is powerful enough to advance change eternally. However, with that being said, I know Christ-centered and glory-centered application that shows specific relevance to lives can be helpful. And so, I think 2 Peter 1:3-4 can help us further in this.

Faith in a Granted Escape
One question that may be helpful to answer in our study is to ask the question: What is the direct topic of 2 Peter 1:3-4? Or more precisely: Is Peter dealing with the issue of conversion or the Christian life. At first glance, it may seem somewhat obvious that Peter is dealing with conversion. The phrases “who called us to his glory” and “escape from the corruption”, and even in verse 11, “there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom” are all directly related to the topic of conversion. However, while these phrases certainly do directly relate to conversion, we must let the entire context dictate the purpose and theme of Peter’s instruction.

Having a right understanding of verse 4 might be useful in understanding Peter’s thought. God has granted us great promises through his own glory and excellence (vs. 3b-4a) “so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature” (4b). So far, God’s promises are for the purposes of partaking of the nature of God, his holiness and glory. “So that you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” What is unclear from the ESV translation is the relationship between partaking the divine knowledge and escaping corruption. The question is, is our escape from corruption the cause of being partakers of the divine nature, or is the divine nature the cause of the escape from corruption? The grammatical structure in the Greek text is clear that the escape from corruption is a result of our participation in the divine nature, which was promised to us as a gift in verse 3. A good precise translation of verse 4 might look like, “by which he granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature so that you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

Verses 5-7 continues to show us that Peter is certainly teaching on the life of the believer, who must “supplement our faith” with an extended lists of qualities from virtue to knowledge, from godliness to brotherly affection, etc. He says in verse 9 that, “whoever lacks these qualities are blind.” Then the climax of the passage is found in 10-11, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance in to the eternal kingdom.” Phrases like “make sure your election”, “supplement your faith with”, “if you practice these qualities you will never fall”, and “for in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom.” These phrase expel great weight on the believer to perform for assurance of our eternal reward. But we must read these phrases within the promise of verse 3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” We act in obedience with faith that God promise what he has also demanded. Not only has his power granted us all things, but his divine nature, which we have obtained through “very great and precious promises”, is the means by which we escape from sin.

The partnership of faith and obedience is not new to 2 Peter. In fact, the Bible commonly uses these words as synonyms. Psalm 78 pertains to the great and mighty works of God in rescuing his people, the Israelites from Egypt and providing miraculously food and water in the wilderness, and as verse 32 says, “In spite of all this, they still sinned, despite his wonders they did not believe.” Sin and disbelief here are parallel. Again, in Hebrews 3, the theme is the Israelites in the wilderness and their lack of God‘s blessing to enter into the rest of God’s promise land. “And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedience? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” Despite God’s provision for the Israelites to survive in the wilderness and prosper in the land, they did not obey and believe.

The glory of Christ and his divine nature has been granted to us for the escape of sin and corruption. It has been provided to us for our satisfaction and obedience. 2 Peter’s instruction on faith and obedience is dually filled. (1) We must trust that the glory of Christ is much more satisfying to our renewed taste-buds than the swine-trough that sin offers us, and the more often we feast and meditate on Christ, the more satisfying he becomes and less satisfying sin will become. (2) We must trust that we are capable of obedience and escaping sin. Overcoming sin is done by the over-whelming presence and work of the Spirit in our lives. Pleading and seeking his work and guidance is the unchanging way of killing sin. Obedience is always present with faith.

 

 

We Shall See Him and Be Like Him Part IV
A Purifying Hope

 


And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
I John 3:3

 

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Romans 6:8

 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Revelation 21:3

 

13 Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14 from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children,
and they leave their abundance to their infants.
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness, when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
Psalm 17:13-15

Psalm 17 is described simply as a prayer of David for deliverance from the wicked. The climax of expression is found at the end of the passage in verses 13-15, where we see a contrast of what is completely and eternally satisfying and what is fleeting. The men whom David is pleading for deliverance from are men “whose portion is in this life.” Their portion is divinely given, as it says of the Lord in the next line, “You fill their womb with treasure.” The Lord seems to be satisfying them in life with riches and worldly pleasures, great glory of a dynasty of children, and riches that last for generations. We must keep in mind that this is a prayer to God, so this helps us understand that David is actually pleading that God will heap on his enemies worldly pleasures and fleeting satisfactions, not as a blessing, but as a curse. This is not a display of piety by David in praying for the well-being of his enemy, but a prayer that God would blind his enemies to everlasting pleasure with fleeting ones.

The pleasure of David’s enemies is contrasted by David’s own future pleasure, his future hope, “As for me, I shall behold you face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (17:15). Amidst every danger, persecution, and torment, David rests in what will be his glory. When David is in his final resting place, referring to his resurrection, he shall look upon the face, the very likeness, of God, and be satisfied. This is expressed in Psalm 16:11, “In your presence there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures evermore.”

A Purifying Hope
The basis for this entire study, in Part I, was found in 1 John 3:2, “But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” There certainly is something profound about the change that occurs in the presence of Christ. Our entire corruptible nature will be done away with and we will be as Christ is, righteous and holy. But the very next verse has something substantial for us today, as we anticipate the coming of the Day of Lord. “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (I John 3:3). Here the process of what we will experience in full later is happening now through hope. The content of that hope is surely vast and extensive (I hope to define more clearly below), but it at least in measure includes what the preceding verse teaches: that we will be like him because we shall see him in all his glory. The statements “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” and “everyone who hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” are parallel. The purity and holiness of Christ is the agent of change in the life of his saints. Christ is the model, the form, and the means of transformation. So clearly from 1 John 3:3, the hope of one day seeing Christ in his complete glory, unhindered and unveiled, to adore him and enjoy him forever, is a purifying hope. The affect of the holiness of Jesus on the believer has compelled him to put away everything the clouds his vision from his object of affection.

God Has Made His Dwelling Place With Man
In my estimation, there is no greater hope than the hope of one day living with God. Romans 6:8 says, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” The context is of course the topic of Part II of our study, where the cross of Christ is the factor by which we exchange our sinful desires for Christ. We have not only been freed from the slave mastery of sin by Jesus the emancipator and now experience such an acute change in life so different that Paul compares it to a resurrection, but we also obtain the hope of living with our Savior forever.

What is so fascinating about this verse is that Paul seems to just reveal a flicker of this hope and then never mention it again in the book of Romans. In his epistles he doesn’t really pick up the subject again but a few times (2 Cor. 13:4; I Thess. 5:10; 2 Tim. 2:11). The contrast between being united with Christ now (Romans 6:5) and living with Christ (6:8) is so tremendous but yet it is left such a mystery in Paul’s teaching, only a remnant of words to ignite anticipation.

However, Revelation 21:1-5 explicitly reveal for us our purifying hope:

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

The Dwelling Place of God and The New Covenant
The dwelling place of God can be found through the thread of God’s redemptive plan throughout Scripture. The word “dwelling place” can be also be translated at “tabernacle”, “The tabernacle of God is with man. He will tabernacle with them” (Rev. 21:3). The first reference is back to Leviticus 26:11-12, “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” The dwelling place of God is with his people in the Land provided for by him. God has shown his affection to his people by bringing them out of the land of Egypt to land filled with his presence and favor. This is the covenant of God with his people. The low point in the history of Israel is found in Ezekiel 8-10. The leaders and elders of Israel are committing great abominations in the sanctuary of the Lord (8:5-6), worshipping created idols (8:7-13), and worshipping the sun (8:16-18). The explicit picture Ezekiel provides for us is a two-way highway of the idolaters coming into the temple, with the glory of the Lord leaving (ch. 10). The glory of the Lord has left and the dwelling place of God is no longer with his people.

Later in Ezekiel, however, in chapter 37, God will again someday make them his people again. “I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be there God, and they shall be my people” (Ez. 37:26-27). Jeremiah 31:31 calls this covenant the New Covenant, which is finally realized and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 6:16 teaches that “we are the temple of the living God, as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.’” The New Covenant is partly realized today with the dwelling of God in Spirit in us, his temple.

The full realization of this promise is, of course, taught in Revelation 21:3, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” The key and significant phrase that seems to separate this passage with rest of the “promise of God’s presence” passages is the phrase “and God himself will be with them as their God.” The promise that God will be with someone is a metaphor for victory in battle, protection, or blessings and advantages (Ex. 3:12; Deut. 7:12; Romans 15:33). God was “with” Jesus (John 3:2; Acts 10:38). But Revelation 21:3 carries “eschatological realities” that is not present in the preceding verses. The presence of God is no longer metaphorical or spiritual but actual and physical. Verses 22-23 make the actuality of his presence explicit: “As I saw no temple in the city, for its is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the lamb.”

Let the Glory Of Christ Change You

The obvious truth from texts that we have looked in previous parts of the study is that the glory of Christ changes us. That when we see him as he actually is, glorious and holy, that changes us – transforms us to his likeness, glorious and holy. God’s demand for us in Leviticus 11:44, “You shall be holy for I am holy” becomes our nature rather than our attempt. The transformation of the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ is described as “having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel” (Rev. 21:11).

The practice of the meditation of Christ is, in all actuality, an act of hope of future satisfaction in Christ. As we saw in our previous section (Part III, A Granted Escape) part of our process of purifying ourselves or sanctification is faith. Our granted escape from sin, moral corruption, and our entrance into “the eternal kingdom” is based on our obedience of faith (Heb. 3:18-19; 2 Peter 1:10-11). Our hope in Christ for glory and holiness (Col. 1:27) is a purifying hope. One that begins to, more and more, engage our minds, seizes our affections, and direct our obedience.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: