the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
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 3:18)
Over the years, I have met Christians who find they have arrived at a place in life where they no longer experience the promise of growing from glory to glory, from strength to strength (2 Corinthians 3:18, Psalms 84:7). Some of them tell me that early in their Christian walk, an evident growth in Christlikeness was the norm. Yet, for many of them, there came a day when they realized that this process had stalled.
For example, you might come to a place in your life where you find it difficult to extend forgiveness to someone. Perhaps this is an issue that has been percolating in your life for some time but you finally reach a crisis point wherein it is necessary to extend forgiveness in order to continue to move forward in your walk with the Lord. As you have done in the past you go before your heavenly father and ask him for the grace to extend forgiveness. But as you kneel before him in prayer, you realize that you do not have even the desire to forgive in this particular situation. Indeed, it seems heaven is shut to you on this issue. Thus, you no longer move from glory to glory, no longer grow in Christlikeness, because this great obstacle has arisen before you. Why is that? What is it that keeps one from fully experiencing the grace of God in a particular area of life?
The passage quoted from 2 Corinthians provides us with an answer. In this section of Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth he is talking about the greater glory of the new covenant which allows us to personally contemplate the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Under the old covenant, the people of God were restricted from intimate contact with Yahweh. As Paul says, the best they could do was to see the reflected glory of God shining from the face of Moses - and even that was veiled. However, we are privileged to gaze upon the Lord Jesus Christ and to have a close relationship with him. It is in this loving contemplation of Christ and his example that we are transformed. It is the deep delving into the character of Christ and the Holy Spirit fueled desire to be transformed into Christlikeness that enables us to move from glory to glory. However, this process is stymied by an unwillingness to embrace Christ in a particular area of our life. In other words, when we refuse to put off the old man in one part of our life we can expect to see all forward movement eventually grind to a halt.
So, to get back to our earlier example we might ask that brother or sister what sin have they allowed to remain in their life? Christians may find themselves thirsty for the grace of God in a particular part of life because they have not obeyed their Lord in an area well within their strength to master. The Christian in our example who finds himself without the desire to forgive, may be harboring envy or lust or some other sin that God has already given grace to overcome. But because he has neglected to put off the old man in those areas, he finds the Lord withholds the strength he requires to move forward in other aspects of his life.
More on this next week.