Sept 8, 2012
Doug Whitley as George Meuller.
Sept 8, 2012
Doug Whitley as George Meuller.
We all . . . are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
They say we all have one: Doppelgangers some call them. Lookalikes. People unrelated to us who look very much like us.
Mine happens to be a star in the music field. When I attended one of his concerts, I got a lot of double takes from fellow fans during intermission. But alas, I am no James Taylor when it comes to singing and strumming a guitar. We just happen to look alike.
Who do you look like? As you ponder that question, reflect on 2 Corinthians 3:18, where Paul tells us that we “are being transformed into [the Lord’s] image.” As we seek to honor Jesus with our lives, one of our goals is to take on His image. Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to grow a beard and wear sandals—it means that the Holy Spirit helps us demonstrate Christlike characteristics in how we live. For example, in attitude (humility), in character (loving), and in compassion (coming alongside the down and out), we are to look like Jesus and imitate Him.
As we “contemplate the Lord’s glory,” by fixing our eyes on Jesus, we can grow more and more like Him. What an amazing thing it would be if people could observe us and say, “I see Jesus in you”!
Lord, help us to gaze on You, to study You, to know You. Transform us into Your image by what we say, how we love others, and how we worship You. May others see Jesus in us.
Love is the family resemblance the world should see in followers of Christ.
Thousands of years later, the apostle Paul adds that Moses veiled himself to prevent the Israelites from seeing that this glory was fading away (2 Cor. 3:13). Using Moses’s experience, Paul reminds us of the great privilege Christians have today. Just as Moses was able to enter God’s holy presence without the veil (Ex. 34:34–35), anyone who believes in Jesus also has this privilege (2 Cor. 3:14, 16). The Holy Spirit gives us unencumbered and unrestricted access into God’s holy presence (v. 17) and will enable us to “see and reflect the glory of the Lord, [making] us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (v. 18 nlt).
In what ways are you like your heavenly Father? How is exposure to God’s holiness through His Word changing you to look more like Christ?
When we picture Jesus as our bridge to God, it is natural to think about the things that separate us from the Father. Therefore, let’s examine three metaphors that describe the barriers between us and almighty God.
First, we are separated by height. Scripture calls God the “Most High” and describes Him as “high and lifted up” (Psalm 9:2; Isa. 6:1 ESV). He is above creation and unconstrained by gravity, time, or space. Furthermore, He declares, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways” (Isa. 55:9). Without question, God is above man.
Next, we are separated by distance. Moses experienced God through the burning bush, but even in that holy moment, the Lord warned him not to come too close (Ex. 3:5). Later, when the people of Israel built the temple and tabernacle, God warned them not to enter the Holy of Holies except for a single specific time each year, and then only one person was allowed to enter under strict conditions (Heb. 9:7). There is a distance between man and God that cannot be breached.
Third, we are separated by light and fire (1 John 1:5; Deut. 4:24). We know that staring into a giant spotlight can cause blindness, and standing near a flame can burn our skin. In a similar way, if we were to stand in the presence of holy God, we would be consumed.
Why did Jesus come to us? The reason is that only the perfect, sinless Son of God could reach the Father, come close to Him, and stand in His presence. And, in Christ, we can share in that intimacy.
“I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)
The reference in this text goes back to the “sweet savour” that God smelled when Noah offered his initial sacrifice after disembarking from the year-long Flood. That offering triggered a promise from God that He would never again curse the earth or destroy every living thing with water, as the Flood had done. Furthermore, the Lord promised to maintain the seasons and functions of the earth until the end (Genesis 8:20-21).
Later, Moses would bring the Lord’s instructions for those laws of Israel that would keep the nation separate from the rest of the world and constantly remind them of the very personal relationship that the Creator of all things was establishing with them. Some of the sacrifices would be an “offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD” (Numbers 15:3).
It is interesting to note that the twice-born are “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Our very existence as His children smells good to our heavenly Father! We are also compared to living stones that are being built into a spiritual house that is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Our bodies are to be “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1) that render the “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15), while God Himself is making us “perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21). HMM III
Having followed the Bible history to the death of Moses, we will make a break, and consider for a day or two a number of passages from various parts of the Holy Scriptures, that our reading may be varied. First, let us solemnly read the narrative of our Lord’s crucifixion,—the best comment upon it will be our repentance, faith, and love.
That he might suffer the full chorus of their ridicule. Men were unanimous and hearty in mocking their Redeemer; when will his people be as zealous in his praises? Should not the “whole band” of believers adore him.
Here was Majesty in misery! Our Lord who is the angels king, was spit upon by rude fellows! How we ought to love him for enduring this shame.
Mark 15:20, 21
How honoured was this Simon: but let us not envy him; we shall have a cross to carry too.
Mark 15:22, 23
He did not wish to be stupefied. He came to suffer in our stead, and he intended to go through with it, enduring to the uttermost.
Or nine o’clock of our time.
26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, the king of the jews.
“A king my title is, prefix’d on high
Yet by my subjects I’m condemned to die
A servile death, in servile company.
Was ever grief like mine!”
Mark 15:27, 28
He died a felons death with felons, and men wrote his guiltless name on the roll of transgressors.
O the patience, the omnipotent patience which bore all this!
From noon till three in the afternoon night brooded over all.
And at the ninth hour or three o’clock
He died in full strength, laying down his life voluntarily for our sakes.
Thus were the inner mysteries laid bare, and the ceremonials of the law brought to an end. Glory to Thee, thou Dear Redeemer of the souls of men.
To him who suffer’d on the tree,
Our souls at his soul’s price to gain;
Blessing and praise and glory be:
Worthy the Lamb for he was slain.
To him enthroned by filial right,
All power in heaven and earth proclaim,
Honour, and majesty, and might:
Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain.
When Denise and I were first married and were just getting started in the ministry, our heart desire was to help people who were in need. Word of our efforts to help people soon spread throughout our city, and it seemed like there was always a long line of people approaching us to request help for all kinds of needs. Some of the needs were serious and legitimate, but soon we recognized that some people just wanted to take advantage of our goodwill.
That latter category included those who didn’t want to get a job. These people had myriads of excuses for why they couldn’t go to work, and they came up with fantastic reasons to explain why everyone else should be paying their bills. At first, Denise and I didn’t realize that we were the newest gullible victims they had discovered to help them freeload. But after a while we looked at each other and said, “Wait a minute! These people aren’t serious. They’re just looking for someone to pay their bills so they can get a free ride in life.”
Most needs you become aware of will be legitimate needs. However, there is a category of people who live like leeches on the goodwill of others. Helping people like this with financial assistance really doesn’t help them at all. You are simply helping to prolong the way they are living and empowering them to keep being irresponsible. Why should they get a job if they can keep getting someone to pay their bills and relieve them of their responsibilities?
In Galatians 6:5, Paul makes a statement which at first sounds like a contradiction to Galatians 6:2 (see May 23). It says, “For every man shall bear his own burden.” What about this verse? Is it in conflict with Galatians 6:2? Are we supposed to help bear each other’s burdens, or is each person supposed to bear his or her own burdens? Do these verses contradict each other?
The word “burden” in Galatians 6:5 is completely different from the one in Galatians 6:2. In Galatians 6:2, the word is baros, but in Galatians 6:5 it is the Greek word phortion. These words are completely unrelated to each other and don’t even look the same! The second word, phortion, is a military term that was used to indicate the expected amount of weight that every soldier was expected to carry in his bag, kit, or backpack. In the secular world, it was used to denote the normal responsibility that every man must carry for himself. Because it is a load we are expected to carry, it really is the idea of a person’s individual responsibility in life.
You see, there is a certain amount of responsibility we are required to carry by ourselves. For instance, no one can do our work for us, and no one can make our decisions for us. Our bills are our responsibility to pay; our children are ours to raise; our dog is ours to feed; our yard is ours to mow; and our kitchen is ours to clean.
If you haven’t discovered it yet, let me inform you that there are many freeloaders in the Body of Christ who would love to shirk these responsibilities and find someone else to do everything for them. These are the people Paul was referring to when he said, “For every man shall bear his own burden.”
In Galatians 6:5, the Greek expresses the following idea:
“For every man is accountable for a certain level of personal responsibility in life, and he cannot look to anyone else to free him of these obligations that are his to take care of himself.”
So when Paul addresses these two kind of burdens in Galatians 6:2 and Galatians 6:5, he is describing: 1) a crushing burden that is too much for you to bear by yourself and that necessitates the help of someone else; and 2) the daily duties and obligations you must bear by yourself as a responsible adult.
If you know someone who shirks responsibilities, it’s time for you to start helping that person accept responsibility for his own life! If you know someone who is freeloading on the goodwill of others, God may want to use you to tell him to stop it!
People like that need to grow up and act like adults! So make sure that you don’t empower and prolong their irresponsible existence by giving them everything they ask for. Saying no may be hard for you to do, but doing it a couple of times will help them realize they have lost their free ride, awaken them to reality, and thus put them on a right track!
It is very important that you think soberly about these things. Your actions are so important because your response will either help or hurt people. If they have sincere needs that they cannot overcome alone, you need to pray about what God wants you to do to help them. But if your analysis of the situation reveals that they are needy because they won’t do what is necessary to fix the problem, it may be God’s will that you tell them no.
If you seek the help of the Lord, He will show you what to do in every situation. So ask the Holy Spirit today to give you the mind of Christ for every situation that is presented to you. If you will listen carefully, God’s Spirit will advise you about what you should do.
Lord, what I have read today is very hard for me personally. I know some people who need to grow up and start taking on more of the responsibilities of life. I must admit that I’ve gone to their rescue too many times and that I’ve probably enabled them to continue their wrong behavior and inappropriate lifestyle. Saying no is so hard for me to do, but I am asking You to help me stop empowering them to keep living irresponsibly as they have been doing. Holy Spirit, please give me Your mind and Your power, and help me to do what is right on this issue.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I have the mind of Christ to help me know when I am to help and when I am to say no. The Holy Spirit speaks to my heart and shows me what to do in every situation. God’s Spirit advises me about what I should do. I am obedient to Him and am NOT led by my emotions.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
One represents the spiritual, the other the material.
Between the eternal, and the temporal
One choice offers a life of peace and purpose.
The other choice leads to a life of self-centeredness and emptiness.
God’s Word makes the choice clear:
Indecision is not an option:
“The person who vacillates [between faith and unbelief] is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for let not that individual be supposing that he will receive anything from the… Lord, [being] a dubious, undecided man, vacillating in all his ways.“ (James 1:6b-9 – Wuest Translation)
Actually, you and I have already made our choice — either by:
Eternal life leading to heaven, or eternal death leading to hell.
In making decisions of a spiritual nature, the battlefield is not the intellect, but the will.