2 Corinthians 3:18
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…
I. THE BEHOLDING.
1. By beholding we are to understand faith in one of its liveliest and most important exercises. Faith is a living principle. It hath eyes, and it beholds Christ. This beholding does not consist of a single glance, of a passing survey. "Looking" is not a single act, but the habit of his soul. "Looking unto Jesus," etc.
2. With open face. Under the Jewish dispensation Christ was exhibited, but it was as it were through a veil. There was a mystery attached to it. But now, when Christ came, the mystery which had been hid for ages is revealed. At the hour when Jesus said, "It is finished," the veil that hid the holiest of all, and the innermost secrets of the covenant, was rent in twain from top to bottom.
3. As in a glass. We, whose eye is dimmed by sin, cannot see God as the spirits made perfect do in heaven. "No man hath seen God at any time." Moses desired on one occasion to behold the glory of God. But the request could not be granted. "No man can see God and live." Yet God gave him a signal manifestation of His presence (Exodus 34:5). Such is the view which God gives to the believer, of Himself in the face of His Son, as a just God who will by no means clear the guilty, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus — a gracious and encouraging view, not indeed of His essential glory, which the sinner cannot behold, but of His glory as exhibited in His grace, and on which the eye of the believer delights to rest.
II. WHAT IS BEHELD. "The glory of the Lord." The Lord, as the whole context shows, is the Lord Christ — the proper object of faith. We look into the Word as into a mirror to fix our attention on the object reflected. In Him as thus disclosed we shall behold a glory. In His person He is "the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person." In His work all the perfections of the Divine character meet as in a focus of surpassing brilliancy. There was a glory in His incarnation which the company of the heavenly host observed as they sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will to the children of men." There was glory in His baptism, when the Holy Ghost descended upon Him, and the voice of the Father was heard declaring, "This is My well-beloved Son." There was an imposing glory in His transfiguration. There was a glory, too, in His very humiliation in His sorrow, in the cursed death which He died. There was an evident glory in His resurrection, when, having gone down to the dark dominions of death, He came up a mighty conqueror, bearing the fruits of victory, and holding death in chains as His prisoner; and angels believed themselves honoured in announcing that "the Lord is risen." There was a glory in His ascension. "Thou hast ascended on high, leading captivity captive" (Psalm 24.) He is in glory now at the right hand of God, which glory Stephen was privileged to behold. He shall come in glory at the last day to judge the world. He shall dwell in His glory through all eternity, and the saints shall be partakers with Him of that glory, Now all this glory is exhibited in the volume of the Book, just as we have seen an expansive scene of sky and cloud, of hills and plains, of streams and woods, reflected and exhibited before us in a mirror, and we all with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord.
III. THE EFFECT PRODUCED.. This transforming power of faith arises from two sources not independent of each other, but still separable.
1. Faith is the receiving grace of the Christian character, and the soul is enriched by the treasures poured through it as a channel. Herein lies the great efficacy of faith; it receives that which is given it, and through it the virtue that is in Christ flows into the soul, enriches and satisfies it, and changes it into the same image.
2. Faith produces this effect, inasmuch as it makes us look to and copy Christ. The Spirit carries on the work of sanctification by making us look unto Jesus, and whatever we look to with admiration and love we are disposed willingly, sometimes almost involuntarily, to imitate. We grow in likeness to Him whom we love and admire.
IV. THE AGENT. "The Spirit of the Lord." Note —
1. The harmony between the work of the Spirit and the principles of man's mind. He does not convert or sanctify sinners against their will, but by making them a willing people in the day of His power. What He does in us He does by us. It is when we are beholding the glory of the Lord Christ that the Spirit changes us into the same image from glory to glory.
2. The harmony between the work of Christ the Lord and the work of the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, who takes of the things that are Christ's and shows them unto us. The Spirit directs our eyes to Christ, and it is when we look to the Lord Christ that we are changed into the same image.
(J. McCosh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.