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2 Corinthians 3:16-18
16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)
Many of us know the story of the death of Jesus. It is recorded in the Gospels that when Jesus died the veil that separated the Arc of the Covenant from the rest of the temple was torn in two. This is significant because the veil was the separator that keep the priests and the people from being able to look upon the glory of God. Prior to Jesus the relationship between God and man was different. To be atoned for their sins, the priests working in the temple would have to offer the blood animals on behalf of the people to God and the process of becoming holy and righteous depended mainly on trying to keep the laws that God have given Moses. Contrast that with the Christian experience. Now to be atoned for sin, we must recognize Jesus as the final blood offering to God and that becoming holy and righteous depends now on yielding to the Spirit inside of us to transform us into the image of Jesus. However, the Spirit does not work independently of our will. Today’s verses provides us with some practical application of how we become more and more like Jesus.
Breaking the verses down we see in verse 16 the reference to the veil. Again this is significant because it is the veil that represents the separation between God and man. Without the removal of the veil we would not be able to fellowship with God and without fellowship we would not be able to become like Him.
Verse 17 highlights that true freedom exists only in the Spirit, and for humanity the only way to have a life in the Spirit is through the receiving of and the submission to the Lordship of Jesus.
The last verse speaks to the process of how we become holy and righteous. The command here is pretty strait forward. We are to behold the glory of the Lord and by doing so we will be transformed into His image. The verse also tells us that this transformation is incremental and different for each of us. The implication being that we cannot just gaze on the Lord once and be like Him, but rather it is a process and that through continual gazing we will be incrementally transformed.
So what do we do with these verses? For me these verses challenge me in a couple ways. First, I am challenged to remember that God is no longer separated from us. It is easy to feel like God is far off, but it just isn’t the case. Secondly, I am challenged to gaze more at the Lord, because I know that in doing so I will become more like Him, which is the end goal. You might be asking how do we gaze upon the Lord. For me I think it is happens in doing the things we have been exhorted and encouraged to do. Reading the Bible, spending time in prayer, sharing the Gospel with others, and experiencing God in the context of other Christians are examples. It seems that when I do these things consistently, I feel more connected to the Spirit and more conformed to the image and person of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, thank you God for tearing the veil that separated us from you. Thank you for access to your glory. Thank you Lord Jesus that you stand as an example of holiness and righteousness and thank you that our holiness and righteousness is not dependent on good works and rule keeping but dependent rather on beholding your glory and yielding to the transforming work of the Spirit. We offer you praise. In Jesus name. Amen.