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From Glory to Glory.

Discussion in 'Discipleship: Following Jesus' started by aiki, Jan 14, 2022 at 12:30 PM.

  1. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

    +3,987
    Canada
    Baptist
    Married
    2 Corinthians 3:18
    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.


    The one certainty of a Spirit-filled life is change. Every believer in whom the Spirit is working will move from one degree of spiritual glory to another, day by day increasingly transformed into the image of Christ. Sadly, in my own life in the past and in the lives of many believers I have encountered through the years, spiritual stasis is the norm.

    For myself, at one time, I believed that if I wasn't doing drugs or getting drunk, fornicating, swearing, looking at porn, thieving and fighting, as was common in the rural Saskatchewan town in which I was raised as a teenager, I was doing all right as a disciple of Jesus. My standard of comparison, of course, was in the wrong direction, looking, not at Christ, but at the lost sinners about me, against whom in comparison I was always certain to come out smelling like a rose. Convenient, that.

    This comparison allowed for a great deal of compromise in my life, which, of course, contributed powerfully to the lack of forward progress with God. In reality, I was, in this condition, never actually in some sort of static state, balanced between God and the World, tilting in neither direction. That was a lie I told myself (which, by various means, was frequently encouraged by the devil). The truth was that I was settling more and more into a habit of self-deceived accommodation of the Flesh, the World and the devil, moving farther and farther from God, one small accommodation at a time, each of them justified by comparison to the very worst human examples I could dredge up. Yes, I watched movies full of foul language, sex and gratuitous violence, but I wasn't an alcoholic, or drug dealer, or criminal pervert. Yes, I chuckled at filthy jesting, even adding the occasional coarse joke myself, but I wasn't getting some girl pregnant, or getting arrested for breaking and entering into a stranger's home. Yes, I ignored God most of the time throughout the week, investing my "treasure" (time, energy, money) instead in fleshly, temporal things, but I did go to church twice on Sundays and to prayer meetings on Wednesday evenings (my Dad was the pastor, so I had to go).

    In the lives of some believers, the lack of forward progress with God can be harder to mark out. The absence of real spiritual growth can get obscured in the myriad of ministries and spiritual activities in which Christians engage, counterfeiting through religious busyness walking in personal communion with God. This is a kind of spiritual "sound and fury signifying nothing," the mere appearance of spiritual life and fidelity to God, rather than an ever-deepening knowledge and enjoyment of Him, reflected in an ever-holier, peaceful, Christ-centered character of living. In some ways, this form of spiritual stasis is much more dangerous than my teenaged self-deception, since it is far more difficult to see that it misses the mark spiritually.

    But the proof of a healthy, Spirit-controlled walk with God lies in the constant - though not necessarily rapid - transformation of a believer. Is the believer progressively, persistently becoming more like Jesus? After a year of walking with God, is the believer just as contentious with their spouse, just as bitter and resentful toward him/her, as at the start of the year? Is the believer just as plagued by fear, and the need to control, and as angry as ever? Is s/he expanding in their personal experience of God's transformative power, of His faithfulness, of His supernatural provision, of His eternal truth, moving from glory to glory spiritually? Or, for all of the believer's participation in Christian activities, is s/he essentially unchanged in the tenor of their relationship with God, drawing no closer to, and going no deeper with, Him despite their involvement on the church worship team, or Youth ministry work, or service as a deacon, or Sunday School teacher?

    A terrible contributing factor to this stultified walk with God is how widespread this sort of living is among Christians. When the compromised believer looks around the average church today, they see many - if not most - of their brothers and sisters in Christ in more or less the same spiritual condition. This has the effect of confirming them in their spiritual stasis, of encouraging them to think they're all right in their life as a believer. If everyone else is like me, they think, compromised and unmoving in their spiritual life; if they're all just living for God on the surface, reconciled to hidden failure and compromise so long as its out of view of folks on Sunday morning, then I'm okay: I'm living in the mainstream Christian experience.

    Like me as a teenager, though, this is to make a comparison to the wrong standard entirely. God doesn't call me or you to judge our spiritual success on the basis of how much like the next believer's life our lives are, or how much like the typical, common Christian life my own life as a Christian is. No, Scripture tells me that Christ is my ultimate standard of comparison, he is the goal upon which to orient my living and against whose fellowship with God I ought to assess my own fellowship with Him. And against that standard I always see I have much room for improvement. (Philippians 3:7-10; Hebrews 12:2-3; Colossians 1:9-10)

    The normal Christian life, then, is one of constant change, of moving from glory to glory by the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The normal Christian life is one of persistent transformation, of increasing depth, of ever-enlarging desire for, and joy in, Jesus Christ and the resulting regular expansion of holiness and peace that results.

    How about you? Is spiritual growth and change the norm in your life? Looking back, can you see clearly that you have moved with God from glory to glory in Christ? If not, recognize that this signals something very awry spiritually in your life. Don't be content to stay tepid and compromised in your walk with God; submit yourself to God in repentance and confession, yield yourself to Him as a slave of righteousness, surrender yourself to God as the "living sacrifice" He created you to be. As you do, the glory of Christ will fill your life, and all of his divine perfection will flow in and out of you, making you a bright, shining vessel, joyful and pure, "fit for the Master's use." (James 4:6-10; Romans 6:13-22; Romans 12:1; 2 Timothy 2:20-21)
     
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