Summary: how God brings about a transformation in people and Christians
February 22, 2004 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
One of the most amazing miracles of nature is the metamorphasis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. When you look at the before and after of the same creature, it is like night and day. It changes from being slow and fat and crawling on the ground, to colorful and thin and flying through the air. Yet the actual metamorphosis is a rather boring procedure from our point of view. All we actually can see is the coccoon on the outside, while all of the change is going on on the inside.
When Jesus Christ went up on the Mount of Transfiguration - the change was much different. In a matter of moments he went from being normal looking Jesus into a completely bright and awesome looking God. His clothes suddenly started shining like lightning and became as white as snow. It was as if he took off His outer clothing to reveal a completely different side of Himself. From this metamorphosis there was no mistaking it - the disciples could clearly see who Jesus was. Jesus was God.
Christians also are under the process of a change - a transformation. It’s a part of our nature. Just like a human can’t help but grow old, the Christian also can’t help but change. He has to. But it’s not something that we try to stop or hide - something that makes us ugly and decrepid. No, this change is a good thing - it makes us beautiful. Unlike Christ and more like the caterpillar, the change is more subtle, more difficult to see. What kind of a change is it? How does it come about? That’s what we’ll find out today as we hear Peter talk about
The Transformation of the Christian
I. Separates us from the world
Being a Christian back in Peter’s time must have a strange thing. Here were two sets of Jews, both claiming the same heritage, both using the same handbook, both even worshiping in the same vicinity for a time - within the confines of the temple. You would think with such things in common they could have come together or at least managed to live together. Yet the two groups were completely divided. The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law absolutely hated the Christians and wanted them eradicated. On the other side, the Christians also realized that in spite of their commonalities, there was to be no compromise - they couldn’t just join together. Instead of seeking what they had in common, they did their best to convert these Old Testament Jews into the Christian faith. There were differences - big differences - which led to the persecution of the Christian church and the stoning of Stephen.
Paul - who once persecuted the Christian church for these differences - talks about what it was that specifically made the Christian religion different from the Jewish one. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. Even though they read Moses and listened to him regularly, they didn’t see the real Moses. This is illustrated in the accusations that the Jews brought against Stephen in Acts 6 when they said, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” When they listened to Moses, all they were concerned about two main things - the customs and the laws. They thought that was the most glorious part of what Moses was about - as his face was shining and all after coming down from Mt. Sinai. Just like Judah with Tamar, the veil covered their hearts so they couldn’t truly see what they were supposed to see.