It is one of the most fundamental dynamics of our lives: We are always becoming like what we most adore. And yet when we look at ourselves, what we adore so often fluctuates in intensity all throughout the day, and yet, in Christ, we are progressing toward maturity in him. John Piper explains how all this dynamic works together from 2 Corinthians 3:18 in a recent sermon. Here’s what he said.
This is so variable, I am tempted to say it is just incalculably variable; meaning, the morning and the mid-morning and noon and the afternoon and the night are all different. Your heart for God is different at 10:00 a.m., and noon, and 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. It is different. Your emotions are just like this. Nobody lives like this. Nobody. And from week to week and month to month and year to year — and saints are allowed to move into seasons of great darkness, nights of the soul.
Here is what that verse says: “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” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Now notice. “Beholding the glory of the Lord” is a present tense, ongoing action — not a one time action — ongoing. And so is “being transformed” — ongoing, not one time. So, let me read it again with that in mind. “We all, with unveiled face,” — you have to read the context to see why he says that.
There was a veil lying over Israel, and a veil is being lifted for us now to behold the Lord. The veil is lifted. That is like God taking away the blinders. The veil is lifted and we are beholding daily, weekly, Sunday by Sunday in preaching, day by day by day in reading our Bibles. We are “beholding the glory of the Lord” and are, thus, “being transformed . . . from one degree of glory to another. You become most like what you admire most. That is what this is saying.
You become most like progressively what you admire most. If you admire the glory of God most and all of his ways, you will become more and more conformed to that. That is what it says. “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” — degree, degree. This is so encouraging because none of us has arrived.
So there is the cross, once for all to pay for my truth-suppressing, God-exchanging unrighteousness. There is new birth, once for all. You don’t get born again twice. The heart of stone is taken out. The blindness is removed. The Spirit is put within. God is restored as my treasure. And then the rest of my life, beholding the glory of the Lord, I am being changed from one degree of glory to the next. So, week by week in preaching, day by day in reading your Bibles, conferences like this — I am praying that right now this is happening — we are being changed from one degree of glory to another.