“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” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Paul includes himself in the metamorphosis or change from one state of spirituality into the greater. Truly, a converted life is a thing of beauty and should be appreciated by all. Consider three things that the Bible addresses of the beauty of a transformed life.
From Sensual to Spiritual. One of the greatest battles within each individual is between the desires of the flesh and the intent of the spirit of man to want to do right. Paul wrote, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:16-17). If man did not have divine revelation in the inspired word of God, he would be left to his own thinking and fleshly inclinations to live his life. However, such only leads to what Paul would later identify as the “works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19). Such a sensual life is not becoming of the beauty to be found by following the Spirit’s word to produce the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22). True beauty is seen through the influence of the Spirit’s revelation in the life in contrast to the ugliness of man following his own wisdom. James gave a similar set of contrasts in James 3:15-18. A life lived to the flesh void of spirituality is ugly and destructive. A life lived to the revelation of the Spirit (i.e. the Bible) is wholesome and greatly admired.
From Selfish to Serving. Isaiah wrote of the self-centeredness of man, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). Man constantly has to battle the temptation to satisfy self over satisfying God and serving others. It is easy to become self-absorbed with one’s own personal living. There is even a tool invented not too long ago and very popular with people called a “selfie stick” for taking pictures with self in it. How much more beautiful is the life of Christ where it is said of him, “For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Rom. 15:3). The people who belong to Christ should project such an image. Paul wrote to Titus, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).
From Sinful to Submissive. Paul wrote to the Roman brethren, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:12-13). He wrote further, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). A life unto sin leads only to death (cf. Rom. 6:23) while a life unto God is unto eternal life (cf. Rom. 6:22). Eternal glory is far more beautiful now as well as in heaven.
“And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:27-30).
Here is a remarkable account of the jailor at Philippi going from near suicide to salvation. While he was literally shaken from physical sleep, he was awakened inwardly to seek the salvation through Christ. This old world of sin can easily put one into a lethargy of false security if one is not sober and vigilant. Consider three types of “wake up calls” that demand spiritual awareness.
Harm Related. Accidents and acts of violence can truly show how vulnerable human life is. It is written by David, “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am” (Ps. 39:4). This is a strange request. Most would ask God to show them where their strength lies, but here David wants to understand the fragile nature of life. Such is truly spiritual-mindedness at best. As a man of war (cf. 1 Chron. 28:3) David was fully aware of death on a battlefield. He knew how quickly life could be gone in a moment while being vigorous in physical strength. War gives a different perspective than peacetime. Accidents also can wake up the inner man. Consider 2 Kings 1:2-4. While people do not always seek the proper source for spiritual healing in times of physical distress, it is still the case that “wake up calls” come.
Home Related. Homes should be places of refuge and peace (cf. Ps. 128). However, troubles at home can cause the inner man to take new perspective. Eli was awakened to the behavior of his sons. “Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress” (1 Sam. 2:22-24). How many families have been shaken inside by the religious, moral and/or ethical divergences from the truth by family? It often hurts the most when the damage is being done by the people who are loved the most. King David’s family was racked with spiritual problems (cf. 2 Sam. 13-18). Due diligence is needed in training “while there is hope” (Prov. 19:18).
Health Related. Hezekiah was “sick unto death” (Isa. 38:1) and told to set his house in order. He turns to the wall and prays (cf. Isa. 28:2-3). How many people find that great illness brings great introspection? Facing one’s mortality is often avoided until it cannot be avoided. The recovery of health is to be seen as a great blessing as was the case with Hezekiah (cf. Isa. 38:20-39:1). Keeping that spiritual consciousness when given another “lease on life” is not as frequently done (cf. Luke 10:11-19). Job is a great example of spirituality when losing everything from family and possessions to his own health. Truly, even in death it is better to go to the house of mourning that one may lay it to heart (cf. Eccl. 7:2).
“For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat to offer” (Heb. 8:3).
The writer is making a great case for the priesthood of Christ in the need to offer sacrifices. Such was a major work of the priests under the law and it is equally true of the Christian’s high priest: Jesus Christ. There are several things that the Bible states that Jesus sacrificed in order for man to have all spiritual blessings in Christ (cf. Eph. 1:3). Appreciating what he sacrificed should cause the saved to love him more and give to everything he would ask. Consider three of his sacrifices.
His Lofty Place in Heaven. The Holy Spirit through Paul stated, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus often stated that he came from heaven to do the will of the Father. John recorded as Jesus said to Nicodemus, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). Again, Jesus said of himself, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). Jesus left the very place where all Christians seek to go. Surely, such a sacrifice for man should be appreciated.
His Lordly Position to be Served. Paul wrote to the Philippians concerning Jesus, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7). Jesus not only left heaven, he came to earth to serve, not to be served. Jesus said to his apostles, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:27-28). He whom God would tell the angels to worship (cf. Heb. 1:6) lived a life of servitude that man might have the proper example to live his own life and see how great a sacrifice Jesus would give in his life and death. Jesus deserved in life all the adoration that the Son of God could receive. Nevertheless, Jesus gave up such a position to humbly do the will of God. Here is the model for all Christians today and forever.
His Life’s Blood on the Cross for Sin. While Jesus sacrificed his place in heaven and his position to serve, man would still be lost if Jesus had not made the ultimate sacrifice. This is exactly what the book of Hebrews addresses when it comes to Jesus and his priesthood. It is written, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing in many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:9-10). Again, “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:11-12). His life was “better sacrifices” (Heb. 9:23-25). Understanding what he sacrificed is essential for a proper life response to the service of God.