In our Christian journey, after we have been saved, we have entered into the Holy Place in the temple of our bodies (1 Cor. 3:16), within our spirits. From here many Christians feel that since God has forgiven them, they have an obligation to God and need to be good and do works to be “in the image of God.” These works can be as personal as living a righteous life according to the law, with some even secluding themselves to focus on God, to external things as spreading the gospel as the great commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mat. 28:19-20) Although this is highly honorable and admirable in our natural being, we need to realize it is still in the flesh. Our being struggles with it and it is often hypocritical. A true change in our nature has to be done in Christ with the Spirit of reality doing the works through us. “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” (Gal. 2:16) This is the young man in Christ. “When you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished” (John 21:18) Realize to ‘gird yourself’ is to restrain ourselves, and to ‘walk wherever you wished’ is to do works without Christ. As a young Christian, we can do many things for God, but not in God.
How do we do things in God? To do things in God, in the temple of our bodies, we have to enter through the second curtain. We have to enter into the Holy of Holies within our spirit to be in the presence of God. Only in the Holy of Holies can we be “transformed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18) of God so Christ can live out of us, so “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Gal. 2:20) For Christ not to die needlessly, realize we need him. When we are there in his presence, he will transform us. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, [the] Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18) The term Paul uses in not “change,” like a change of heart, or a change of mind. A change is not enough because it is still flesh. We are given a new heart (Eze. 36:26), and are renewed in our minds (Rom. 12:2). Paul uses “transform” because it is a change in our very substance – it is a change in our nature. We are transformed from the flesh, which we were born with, to be like Christ, a new creation made of the flesh, but containing the divine life. That is why when we believed, we have eternal life (John 3:16). “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) Having eternal life is altogether not something we do, we are simply passive in the matter, as it is a free gift of the Spirit entering into us. Realize when we are “being transformed into the same image” today, it is also a free gift of God. It is not something we can do to change our nature from the flesh to the divine—to the Lord Spirit. That is why it says we are “being transformed”—it is a purely passive activity. It is the same as growing.
Being transformed is like growing. You cannot force it. It does not rely on our activity, except everyday you have to eat. That is why Jesus told us, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48) You have to eat Him daily to be transformed. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:56) When we eat of Him, we are abiding in his temple in the presence of Christ, intimately having fellowship with Him. In turn, Christ is abiding in our spirit, transforming us into his image. “As the Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” (John 6:57) The reason for Christ’s living on this earth was because of the Father who sent Him, so also will we. When we eat Christ, the reason for our living on this earth and into eternity will be because of Him. Eating Him is the source of our daily nutrient in our spiritual growth to be like Him. Internalize his words so they become spirit and life to us (John 6:63). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16) to “renew the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). When we do, our minds will be renewed and we will be transformed. “….We have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) That is why, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2) When we are transformed by Christ, then will the works that we do be in his image. It will be genuine, it will be real, it will be good and acceptable and perfect, it will be an expression of his power and glory. It will be the “prove [of] what the will of God is.” (Rom. 12:2). It will be the expression of Christ Himself through us. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Eze. 36:27)
For centuries in the Old Testament, many pious people tried, with their own strength to obey the Laws of God, but they failed. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.” (Mat. 23:25) Realize robbery and self-indulgence are both to feed the flesh. Jesus called them hypocrites because man can only clean on the outside; God cleans on the inside. God crucifies our flesh and places the divine element of the Spirit within us. For Christians today, who have entered the first curtain into the Holy Place, the flesh is still ever present with us. Our cups are not immediately cleaned. The second step of our salvation is to clean our cups. It is a gradual process that takes a life-time. We have to feed on the Lord as our daily bread. Realize as Christians, we still can become hypocrites. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.” (1 John 4:20) How can we love everyone?
To love everyone, realize we must express Christ. We have to express God Himself as God is love. He expresses an unconditional, self-sacrificial agape love for us. It is something we cannot do ourselves. (John 21:10-17) That is why Christ came.
…When we think of “being transformed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18), we think of how we as sinners were freed from our sins by Christ’s death on the cross so we could now be righteous and be able, at last, to follow at least most of his commandments. This is to gird ourselves and to work for God. This is learning principles of behaviour to deal with the flesh. It cleans the cup only from the outside. Realize this is at best only a partial image of who God is…
To be transformed into the same image of God means to be transformed into the image of Christ. In the beginning, God was alone, by Himself, as the Almighty. In time, God went through the process of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. He is no longer alone. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Gen. 2:18) Realize God was talking about Himself. He was making a helper suitable for Himself. That is why we collectively, in our transformed form becomes a suitable bride for Him. “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2) In Genesis, God was alone as the great “I am.” Through the process of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, he became the firstborn of all creation. In time, God is now in Christ. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Col. 1:15) “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” (Heb. 1:3) “Who, being the effulgence of His glory and the impress of His substance.” (Heb. 1:3 – Recovery Version) Realize we are being transformed not only to the image of God the Father, but we are being transformed into the image of God the Son. In fact, outside of time, God the Son is the image of the invisible God. We are being transformed to be just like God the Son, internally, as the children of God, we were “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13) – just like Jesus, the “firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). We have been made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4) – just as Jesus, born of God with his divine nature – so we could face all temptations and finally overcome sin, just as Jesus did. Realize we have been “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8 29) When we finally realize that it is Christ living in us, and we have been crucified with Him, we will do only the Father’s will. “…The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19) Whatever we do will be with the Father. “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Even at the imminent loss of his life, Christ wanted to do the Father’s will. That same attitude will be in us when we no longer live but let Christ live in us. The only way that will happen is if we remain within the temple, in the Spirit today and never go out again. By loving God to the utmost, we will remain in the temple. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mat. 5:48) We shall be “made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2)
As such, we are to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy inwardly. When the inward reality of Christ matures within our spirit, the outwardly expression in our works in dealing with the world will be like Christ. Like Christ, we will learn to forgive and disciple people to Himself. Christ’s love i(1 Cor. 13:4-7) is not a permissive love, it is to disciple us to bring us back to the Father by pouring Himself out to us. We will learn to express the same love that Christ has for us to our brothers and sisters. In fact, it is the Christ living out of us that will manifest his agape love. This is how we mature in Christ. “But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:18) These are the elders of “the church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2) who are the “pillar[s] in the temple of My God, and [they] will not go out from it anymore.” (Rev. 3:12) When we are praying without ceasing, staying in the Holy of Holies, feeding on Christ as our daily bread, dwelling inside our spirits to be one Spirit with Him, we will be transformed closer and closer to his image, “from glory to glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18) The “knowledge-surpassing love of Christ” (Eph. 3:19) will exude from our beings as Christ Himself. Christ, “Who, being the effulgence of His glory and the impress of his substance,” (Heb. 1:3) will express the inner substance of God, his unconditional self-sacrificial love, through us. That is why we are patient and kind, and able to bear all things, to believe all things, to hope all things, and to endure all things (1 Cor. 13:4-7). This is to grow into maturity in Christ. The impress of his substance is being expressed from us.
What is to be “transformed into the same image”?…We are being transformed into the image of Christ…holy and righteous on the inside…and loving and forgiving on the outside…