“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” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
IF WE ARE IN CHRIST, WE ARE BEING TRANSFORMED. Beginning with our initial obedience to the gospel and the forgiveness of our past sins, we are being renovated and rehabilitated. When we reach the place that Christ has gone to prepare for us (John 14:1–4), we will enjoy an absolutely perfect relationship with God forever. The damage of our sins will have been totally repaired, the flaws in our character removed, and even our innermost thoughts and motives completely conformed to our Father’s holiness.
The apostle John envisioned the completion of this process of character growth when he said, “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. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2,3). What a glorious vision of what we can be!
At present, however, we are still in “rehab.” We ought to be powerfully pulled toward God by the vision of what we will be when the process is finished, but the fact is, we’re not there yet. Paul put it in the present tense when he said that we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” As long as this life lasts, we’ll always be works in progress.
But it is critically important to keep one thing in mind: God will not be content until He has finished doing what He has begun to do with us. Although His scheme of redemption obviously benefits us personally, the plan is primarily about God and His intention to redeem His creation from the ravages of sin. In Christ, He is transforming us into the sons and daughters that human beings were meant to be. He is, in effect, restoring our humanity to us.
Sin marred God’s creation, taking creatures made in His image and defacing that image. As a result, we have never experienced what it is to be a human being — not fully and perfectly. At best, we have been stumbling along with lives that are only a faint echo of real life. But God does not plan to leave His masterpiece broken. In Christ, He proposes to bring us all the way back to life.
“The glory of God is man fully alive” (Irenaeus).