The Transforming Spirit

by Wayne Barber

Last month, we talked about living in the freedom of the Spirit.  We saw that when we are allowing the Spirit to control our lives, we experience marvelous confidence and boldness to speak the awesome truths of God! He opens our mouths, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:13: "we believe therefore we speak."

The second thing we encounter is the power to be what we are commanded to be: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17). The freedom that we have in Christ is the power to do as we should. In Christ, under the New Covenant, we are free from the condemnation of the Law. God's grace saves us and God's grace keeps us! No sin can forfeit our salvation in Christ!

But we do not have a license to do as we please! Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 6:12: "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."  Paul repeats this message in 1 Corinthians 10:23: "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify."

The Corinthians had perverted this truth to justify their sinning, particularly in immoral ways.  They used the same argument that the Romans used, which Paul had to counter in Romans 6:1—"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? They pretended to have theological justification for doing what they wanted to do! Like many people today, the Corinthians rationalized their sinful habits and thinking! They lived in a society that was notoriously immoral—even to glorifying sexual promiscuity in their pagan temple.

It was almost as bad as today. It was hard for them to give up their immoral way of living, so they justified it by saying, "all things are lawful!"  But Paul countered: "Yes, all things are lawful; but not all things are profitable." There are consequences to sin!  There are consequences to living to please ourselves! Sin effects not only us but those around us! Paul says that sin is never profitable.

The divine enablement is the power to do what we are commanded to do, not the right to do as we please! In the new Covenant of Grace, Christ, the glory and the grace of God lives in us! We are free from any condemnation of the Law—free to speak the truth boldly about the gospel of Christ and free to be what we are commanded to be!

Finally, this enablement means the potential to be changed into His image: "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 from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18).

This is the grand finale to all that Paul has been saying in the 3rd chapter. Moses had to veil his face because the glory with which it shone was only temporary. Paul says "But we all behold, as in a mirror the glory of the Lord."  The picture is of one looking at the gospel with no veil to mask it. And in the gospel he sees the glory of the Lord and is changed by it.

But this changing is not just an event that happens at salvation. It's a process that continues. We must daily continue to focus on Him, and by so doing we are continually transformed: "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" (v. 18). Something enables this beholding to take place, just as something or someone enables the transformation to take place. This transformation (metamorpho\) denotes an inward change that is seen outwardly—like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly—completely transformed from the inside out!

What is it that enables both the "beholding" and the "transforming"? It is the Spirit of God and the Word of God. We know it involves the Word because Paul uses this word "transform" in Romans 12:2: "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Only the Word renews the mind! If the believer will get into God's Word faithfully, he will behold Him as His glory is reflected through the mirror of His Word! There will be a transformation in his life.

Then, the last part of verse 18 equates the Spirit of God with Christ, the Lord: "just as from the Lord, the Spirit." The Spirit, as one looks into the Word, reflects Christ in His glory and then transforms the believer from the inside out! As we yield to Him and to His Word the less there is of us, and the more people see of Him in our lives. Each believer has the potential of radiating Christ's glory daily as we yield our lives to Him and to His Word.

Oh, the freedom of living in the liberty of the Spirit! How are you doing in your Christian walk?

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