2 Corinthians 3:18 : The “Secret” of Sight
So you can open in your Bibles with me, please, to 2 Corinthians chapter 3… 2 Corinthians Chapter 3 is one of Tim’s favorite passages. I got an Amen from back there.
Tim, you wanna just come up and preach this one for me?
Praise God for that. Alright, let’s read our verse morning, we’re gonna anchor ourselves in one verse for this morning’s sermon, there’s a lot of surrounding passage, but frankly, it’s a lot of ideas, a lot of background in it would cost probably entire sermon series to do it justice. So we’re gonna anchor ourselves in one verse and explore one idea this morning, it’s just… 2 Corinthians chapter 3 and verse 18, in chapter 3-18, 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? Let’s pray.
Father, I stand here. Every Sunday morning is an act of faith.
I believe that when your word is preached according to four verses 1 through 6, without cunning or deceit or anything like that, that when your word is preached, its gonna happen. Father, I believe that the miracle of new life can happen as you open the eyes of someone in here today, so that they may see you in glory, that you remove the veil from their eyes and see what really matters. That sets them on an eternal trajectory that’s different from where they are at today.
And I’m asking you to do that today, Father.
I’m sure in a group of people this big, there are those who would be professing atheists, professing, agnostics. I’m praying that you would humble each one of our hearts. I pray this in your precious name. Amen…..
Okay, well, now that we got that set, we’re in 2 Corinthians 3. Of all of the sermons, I would say yes. Last weeks is probably the most for gone from this sermon series for most Christians, but this one, this week is the one that is most precious to me, ’cause this is the one where I think my Christian life began to change and transform what I understood the principle of spiritual site.
Now, we’re calling it the secrets of spiritual living. I don’t claim to have any secret knowledge… Okay, nothing like that.
Me saying This is just a way of saying, we often forget these things, we often forget some of the core parts of what makes Christianity unique, and my goal in this sermon series is to remind you of those things, and the one today is the secret of spiritual sight, the secret of seeing… Okay, now let me tell you, it’s this one, this one today, that sets Christianity aside and unique and distinct from every other self-help change plan that’s out there. In fact, if you remove this one, much of the Christian life is very similar to self-help books that you’ll find out there, and this is one of the ways the devil can be so deceitful, ’cause… You know what deceit is? It’s not telling the outright opposite, it’s telling a truth with leaving an important part out, or it’s telling the truth, but slightly off just a little bit, and most Christians, I would venture a guess that you struggle with this idea of spiritual growth that is apart from seeing God, and a day-by day, moment-by-moment way, I would venture a guess that the vast majority of Christians actually pursue spiritual growth as a moral obligation, and out of the context of a relationship with who Jesus is, out of the context of this idea of beholding the glory of God on a day-by-day basis, so that you are transformed from one degree to another, no, instead, many Christians, instead of doing that will consume themselves with bad habits and tips and tricks to try to be a better person and… Amen for that. You need tips and tricks, you need the biblical principles of repentance, the biblical principles of what it looks like to put off and get accountability and all these things, but without this part, your efforts are empty and worthless. Okay, this part here is what sets Christianity apart, it’s what makes it unique, there’s a radical claim in Christianity that true believers in Jesus Christ have a daily sight of who He is, have a daily sight of his face according to chapter four. In the same book, in the face of Jesus Christ.
Now, what am I saying when I say that, we do need to clarify ’cause there are people out there who see Jesus’ face in burnt toast… Yeah, in salt marks on the highway. You’ve heard those stories. They come up every once in a while. And when I say the face of Jesus, for many of you, you can drop an image of a white English like Duke with long, like Laurel hair, shiny. You know what I’m talking about? Maybe, no, that’s… Maybe it’s Maybelline like… That’s make up, right?
I can’t remember.
But the problem with that is, is obviously Jesus is a middle eastern man, he would have looked very different than that, and if God wanted you to see and know what the face of Jesus physically and its characteristics look like, like how big his nose was and stuff like that, I think he would have made sure we knew that.
So when we talk about beholding the face of Jesus, are we talking about a physical image in our mind, and the answer is No, beholding the face of Jesus is one of the ways the biblical authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit communicate to us what an intimate relationship with the God of the universe is like… And if you haven’t entered into that relationship, none of what I’m saying is gonna make sense to you, it’s gonna seem like hocus pocus, it’s gonna sound like I’m talking to an imaginary friend, and I don’t know how to express to you what it’s like unless you’ve tasted of it- Unless in your heart and your mind, you fix your eyes on Jesus Christ as the author and the finisher of your faith, unless you have eyes to see and ears to hear, unless the eyes of your heart have been enlightened so that you’ll know who he is, so that you’re able to comprehend who he is unless you know Jesus and fellowship and his sufferings, and then the life to come.
See, the biblical authors use all kinds of words to describe this idea, but it’s one core truth, it’s this idea of holding in your mind the essence of who God is, and there’s something about that when it’s done experientially and relationally that transforms you and I. So let’s look at our verse here today, it says, We all with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord, and we’ll do a full stop there. Our first point is going to be asking the question, What is the glory of the Lord?
So in this passage, I could do a lot with unveiled face, we could talk about that, and I think Paul is doing something really clever with this idea, but I wanna focus in rather on the glory of the Lord here.
When I say the word glory, what do you think of… Like right away for me, it’s light. Bright light. Shiny.
Yeah, anyone else? Does anyone do the old Baptist preacher thing where they would glow-ry, it’s the glory of the Lord, ’cause it glows. Anyone in their mind, maybe just… Maybe that’s just me.
The glory of the Lord is not a physical necessarily light, and I wanna express to you, it is light, it can be light when it breaks through in the physical world, oftentimes it exhibits itself as light, but it’s not just light, it’s actually much more profound than that, and to explain that to you, I would like you to turn all the way back to the passage that Paul is referring to here, Exodus Chapter 33. can you do that? Exodus Chapter 33, the story of The veiled face is from verses 7 through 11. but the reason why he uses the word glory, I think is in the following verses, particularly starting at verse 17, one of my favorite little nuggets in the Bible, this is just like You could meditate on this alone for the rest of your life and be fed… Check out these verses here, okay.
The Lord said to Moses, this is the very thing that you have spoken, I will do, for you have found favor in my sight. I know you by name. By the way, what just happened, Moses just said, Hey, God said, does people are sinful? They just did this golden calf thing, I’m not going to go with you into the land and Moses….. is like, I’m not going anywhere unless you go with us, Will you please go with us, and God says, Okay, in verse 17… How do you like my translation?
Good translation, right?
Alright, well, we’ll keep going. Verse 18, I imagine at this point, the glory, light of God begins to dim as if the encounter with God and this moment is over, they’re about to part ways and before God can completely in dim out his presence there, Moses shouts out like an excited little kid, who couldn’t wait to ask for a request, Please show me your glory. Okay, now a few things that are really interesting about this.
First thing, the glory of the Lord in this passage is represented in the verses before this as a light or a cloud descending on a Tent of Meeting where Moses meets with him.
If anyone saw the glory of the Lord, if it’s light, Moses did.
He saw it, he was right there with it.
Apparently, Moses didn’t think he really saw the glory of the Lord, and so he asks God, show me your glory. Please show me your glory, and God answers his request. But what does God show him in the next verse? Read it.
Go ahead. We can do this interactively. What do you have?
Goodness, and then what?
My name, the Lord, which what is the Lord? It’s the Yahweh, it’s the covenant name of God for the Israelites. That name is a promise to the Israelites that He will keep His promises, so it’s his goodness, it’s His faithfulness. And then what does he say?
Mercy and graciousness.
So when Moses asks to see his glory, what does God show him? Who he is, who he is.
If you’re looking for some kind of physical manifestation of God, when it comes to beholding the glory of the Lord, you’re looking in the wrong place.
No, to know God is to know who he is, to know them personally, relationally, to understand those qualities and enjoy those qualities and rejoice in those qualities, and have them be the treasure of our life, and so… Go back with me to 2 Corinthians Chapter 3.
We all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord. Stop right there again. What are we beholding? His goodness, His grace, His mercy. And chapter 4, verse 6, God who said, let the light shine out of darkness has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. In what? The face of Jesus Christ. It’s not a physical face. And yet Jesus is the fullness of God. He is the only begotten of the Father, and He is full of grace and truth, that’s what John 1 says.
And so we understand here that when we talk about beholding the glory of the Lord, we are talking about seeing who God is by seeing what Jesus was like.
Now, let’s break this down. Who is God? Who is God? There are several essential qualities to who God is, we could go through and you can try to divide it down, it really isn’t fair to do that because it doesn’t really represent who got in all of his multifaceted wisdom and characteristics and beauty. But I think at the very least, you have to say God is… And I’ll use this phrase, he is the UN-originated originator.
It’s a really wordy way to say it, He is the uncreated creator, he has no beginning, he has no end, and yet he himself started this world that you and I live in.
Okay, I’m gonna do a full pause right here and just talk for a second about one of my hobby horse annoyances. Okay, and this is something to help you think through this, right, what is one of the… When you listen to particularly an evolutionary world view, when they start talking about a world that’s 10 billion years old, is what I think they’re up to now, right.
Now, regardless of what you think about that in and of itself, you always have to ask the question 10 billion years from what… From the Big Bang, right? ’cause what people would say, the big bag… Now, you always have to then ask a question from that… Well, what was there before the Big Bang?
Well, there had to be something there, most scientists would agree there was something there before the Big Bang, now what it was, they can’t describe… They can’t define whatever, but there was something there, and so then you ask, well, how did that thing get there? And pretty soon, if you chase this far enough up the river, you find really quick that they say, Well, I don’t know. Maybe it was just always there. Many people don’t have the problem with an eternal universe, but they do with an eternal God. Why is that?
Many people will describe god-like qualities to this universe, and they don’t have a problem with that, but they do have a problem with a being that originated at all. That has no beginning and no end. There are serious foundational questions with a world view that says, Where is… I don’t know if God exists or not, they’re serious foundational questions to that world view.
Now, we can go around in circles about that all day, but at the very least, God is creator, which means he’s super powerful.
It also means… He’s super creative, right?
It’s beautiful. How many… Do you love side by stuff? I love sci-fi stuff, I love science fiction, I love the idea of traveling the stars, seeing the galaxies, and then I look at this world today and I think, Man, this world is pretty awesome too, have you seen some of the crazy… And I let you just think about this, If giraffes didn’t exist, people would imagine giraffes existed on an alien world as an alien animal with that long necks crazy animal, right. This word nuts with all of its variety, creativity, and it shows you something about a good God, it shows you that he’s massively creative, it shows you that he’s also massively good, that he would make a world that provides with such abundance for His people in His creation. It’s not like he pooped us into an existence on Mars and said, Good luck, good luck figuring it all out.
No, he gave us this world that can provide for us and fresh water and beautiful things that we can enjoy, and he made this world not just about survival, which is what so many TV series and even the mindset of so many people is going toward more and more where you just gotta get through the next step, you just gotta get through the next day, no, God made this world a world for humanity to enjoy and love and find beauty in. That’s our God. Okay, when we’re talking about our God, we’re talking about a god so glorious that He is the eternal creator of this big, massive Cosmos, we call the universe, and all of the rules that it abides by. That’s amazing!
That’s the first one, the second one that I wanna talk about is a word that I think we normally get wrong… It’s the word holiness. When you think of holiness, when I think of holiness, my first thing is I think of no sin, right, He’s holy and that He’s not sinful, and that is just… It’s true, he is not sinful, but that’s righteousness. Holiness means something different, and holiness and righteousness are not really synonyms in the Word of God, holiness is different than that, holiness has the idea of transcendent or above or unique or in a different class. And so when he calls you and I to be holy, he’s saying, I want you to be distinct and unique from the corruption that’s in world and that involves purity. Amen.
Literally calls God holy. He’s not just saying, got it? He doesn’t have any sin. He’s saying something beyond that, he’s saying God is really different and transcendent…
I wanna be careful here because sometimes some theologians have said He’s holy other than us, and some of the people in here would know why that’s a problem, ’cause he hasn’t made us so that we are holy disconnected, given he’s made us in His image, so that we can understand him, and yet he is above and beyond all that we can ask and think, his righteousness, we can’t even imagine the ideal human that you can imagine. Is nothing like what God is in His righteousness?
How about his power? I’m in a fantasy football league.
No, no. Amen. Okay. But a fantasy football league. Some of the nerd things that I do is I evaluate running backs on the basis of how much they can lift, squat, I wanna see how strong they are with their legs, so I’ll examine those type things, some of them like hundreds and hundreds of pounds, like could get two or three of us up on their shoulders and boom, and back up, and they’d be fine.
600 pounds is nothing.
How about the power to create universe? How about that?
How about, He’s holy, he’s other, he’s above us in love. I love my mom, I love my dad, I love my family, I love my wife, and you have friends that you love and they love you, God’s love is unimaginable, more pure and passionate than any human love could ever be… We could go on and on. How about his wisdom? How he knows this world works not only scientifically, but what’s good for humans and what’s bad for humans, and yet you and I get stubborn in our own ways thinking that we know what’s right, it’s the first sin after all.
He’s unimaginable in his wisdom. What would be good for us? I could go on and on here, but his holiness is transcendent. He is so amazingly glorious, and I got two more that I wanna talk about here this morning, his love… You know about his love. We often in America, we have this idea about God’s love, He is love, we think, and to many people that means he’s something like the Star Wars force, just like at work and love, and everybody’s to love each other, and therefore God’s at work and he’s just kind of His love and love is God and all that.
It’s not it. Guys, don’t mess that up.
And then a lot of people think, Well, love is just kind of being just good with everyone. Like, You do you, I’ll do me. Will all be good with one another… The old Kumbaya song, people think of love like this, and let me tell you, God’s love is not like that, it is not just this warm, fuzzy thing that wraps you up and makes you feel good, no, God’s love is fiery, passionate. You ever have a friend that loved you with passion, you ever have a friend that you were doing the wrong thing, and they stood in your path and said, No, I can’t let you do this.
You ever have a friend who, even through all of your mistakes pursued you passionately loved you passionately, you never had a sense that they were ever gonna give up on you, or God’s love is passionate, in fact, it is so passionate that it was put into effect. God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Do you see that? So God’s love is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling, it is a passionate fire that then acts for the good of His people.
He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for sinners, so that those who place their faith in Him will not be condemned and instead will be given new life, an eternal life.
It’s a promise for you and I, that love is so unique, we don’t see that love out there, we treat love as if it’s just like this, like uneasy peace treaty.
As long as we’re just okay with each other, that’s love, that’s not love, and there’s a fourth one, that’s a really important quality about who God is, that’s one we don’t like to talk about as much. It’s His wrath.
One of the things that makes God glorious is his wrath, and I don’t know about you, but I struggle to feel this way for many years, and in my study of Isaiah through the last couple of years, I have found that God is glorious in His wrath as well, I have found hope in His wrath… That sounds weird, right?
And it’s the hope that sin is not going to go unpunished, that injustice and murder and hatred and anger and abuse and all of the corrupt stuff we see in this world is not forgotten by a holy God, because if it was… I would ask the question, what’s the point? What’s the point?
I would ask the question, Why should we keep trying? We can’t make this world better.
God is glorious and His wrath as well.
The Bible makes it really clear that those who don’t believe in Jesus are under the condemnation of His wrath already today.
He is glorious in that wrath, it’s part of who he is.
It’s the first question, these last two questions are gonna go a lot quicker. The first question is, what is the glory of the Lord? The second question is, how do we view the face of Jesus, the glory of the Lord?
’cause many religions have a lot of answers to this, right. They would… Some would sit in meditation, some would stare at a little cross or a figurine of Mary or something else, and they say It’s through these deep prayer and meditation on that symbol that we’re able to attain a vision of the glory of God, and it’s sad, ’cause that’s not the biblical view.
The biblical view of the glory of the Lord, as I said earlier, is in the face of Jesus Christ, and where do we see Jesus? If you’re looking for the face of Jesus in burnt toast, writing in the sky, different shaped clouds… Whatever you’re looking in the wrong places.
The entirety of the Bible leads up to the moment when God would reveal himself to his world through Jesus Christ as a human.
That means that for you to understand the glory of the Lord, you must meditate on who Jesus is in the Gospels.
Now, two-thirds of the Bible leads up to that. The Old Testament, you got four books that are devoted to the story from different views of who Jesus is and what he did here on Earth, and then you’ve got ACT and on is an exploration of its effects. What does Jesus breaking into this world and demonstrating His glory to human kind? How does that change everything? So the first thing that I would encourage you to do is to read the scriptures, to read the… Particularly the gospels, the four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
How do you read those Gospels in a way that reveals to you the glory of God, in a way where you can hold the view of who He is in your mind? And I’ll give you a simple example. How many of you know the story of Zacchaeus? Yeah, you know. He was a wee little man and a wee little man. I see, right.
Okay, he was also a tax collector, but that gets forgotten, so let’s just… How would you read the story of Zacchaeus in a way where you would be able to see the glory of the Lord?
The answer to that is, you place yourself in the shoes of Zacchaeus, and you see how Jesus revealed himself to Zach is what happens in that story. You got Zach, he is a tax collector, which means he probably his friends and family don’t like him very much, he’s assessed by his community, he has money and a lot of it, so he kinda has everything, but then he also has nothing… You wanna know why we know he has nothing, and he feels that way, because a grown man was willing to climb a tree in a parade. Okay, how many of you men out there I’ve ever have climbed a tree in the last 20 years. You don’t have to raise your hand.
It’s not a common thing.
Yeah, and look, it was less common back then than it is today, Zacchaeus is distraught enough with his life that when he hears about the Messiah coming, he wants to climb a tree just to catch a glimpse, just to see what he might be like, maybe he’ll see a smile, maybe you’ll see here at teaching as he walks by, whatever, I just need a little glimpse. And How does Jesus reveal himself to Zacchaeus? And how does he reveal Himself to you in that story, if you were Zach, he looks up in the tree… Right at aches grown man in a tree. I don’t know, probably not. Allow their grown men industry, maybe he looks up, stops, and there are a few chuckles, maybe Peter kind of sparks and is embarrassed for Zacchaeus, and he says, Zacchaeus, come down, I’m gonna go to your house today for lunch.
Now, what does this show us about Jesus? Jesus does not care what everyone else thinks about you, it doesn’t matter to him.
He does not care if you’re on the outside looking in, he doesn’t care that you’re wealthy, he doesn’t care that you’re poor, we see that everywhere else in the Gospels, He doesn’t care about all of that. He cares about a broken desperate man, and he cares about you and your brokenness in your desperation to… That’s glorious.
When you sit there and you think, This is the Jesus who died, rose again and currently is praying for me before God in heaven.
When you think, That’s my Savior, that’s glorious.
And then what you do, you behold that as you read it in the word, and you carry that with you, then throughout the day, you carry a sense that by God, my savior is a God who rescues me from my sin, rescues me from my brokenness, rescues me from my desperation, I love that my God does that for me. He doesn’t care about what I can offer him the money I can give him… How popular I am. Doesn’t care about any of that.
He wants my obedience. But he loves me. That’s beautiful. That’s so practically today, how do you hold a view of who God is, who Jesus is and his glory, you can read the Gospels and put yourself in the Gospels, and think about how you… How Jesus interacts with you in much the same way, and the third thing that I’ll just bring up is that through this viewing, this is where we are transformed.
Now, I wanna be really clear here, many of my sermons in this series, to this point, involved immense amount efforts the first sermon in this series, we love the Lord, your God with all your heart, your mind and your strength. And we talked about what it looks like for you to engage your mind, your heart, and your will power in the fight against sin and in your love for God, so I’m not neglecting that, but I am saying that there is something that happens as you simply behold Jesus Christ.
There’s something magnificent that happens there, it transforms you, it changes the way you think, when you recognize that your savior, who loved you so much has forgiven you for your sins, it creates in you this desire, a little bit of a longing, a little bit of a readiness to be a forgive as well, and create in you a desire to love those who are broken, and suddenly you look around when you set teens in your lunch room, kids in your lunch room, co-workers for you men, women in your lunch room, you look around and you see lonely broken people, and you say, my Savior loves lonely broken people.
I bet you he would love them. They need them to… It changes the way you think about things. And this is what’s called in the Bible, renewing your mind as you meditate on Jesus and who He is, you carry that with you throughout the day. It has a transformational effect. And look, we know this, psychologist knows, know this, that if you carry something in your mind, if you think a certain way, it can have an effect on your actions, what they miss, the key part around which all of that orbits that they miss is that Jesus is the one who transforms the heart, and so as we meditate on Jesus, it changes our desires, the way we think, the way we want to act, and then as you engage your entire body and your effort against sin and to love God, you’re changed. And that’s what happens in the last part. We’re being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
We’re becoming more and more like God, we’re becoming more good, more gracious, more merciful, we desire justice more, we wanna love with a purity more and more… That’s passionate and sacrificial. As we behold Jesus Christ, we become more and more like him. That’s the promise here.
Now, all of this happens through the work of the Holy Spirit, and this is… There are two things that I wanna close this sermon with, okay, first of all, what I’m describing to some of you today has been rich and a great reminder because you know this, dare I say, you’ve experienced this, you’ve seen Jesus like this. But for some of you, as I’ve described this, you’re like, I don’t think I have…
I mean, I know about Jesus, I’m acquainted with the Bible and with what it says, and I believe that God exists, but I don’t see him as glorious, as significant as the thing that matters most. I don’t have this vision in my mind who he is, and it hasn’t powerfully worked on my heart, and you say that, and I wanna tell you today, that is a dangerous and a scary place for you to be…
I wanna ask you today, if that’s you don’t be content with a head knowledge, with knowing about Jesus, with an encyclopedia knowledge of who is and the stories and what he did. Don’t be content with that. Instead, turned to God and beg him to remove the veil so that you can see who he is, and don’t stop asking until he does it.
He ultimately will remove that veil so that you can see Jesus, His death on the cross is sufficient for you, His resurrection is the proof that that is sufficient payment to God, and then you know, because of who He is in His worth, that you can stand before Him as His child.
And the second thing that I challenge you, each of you here today is hold a vision, a picture, hold Jesus in your heart throughout the day, and you need it every day, and moment by moment, it’s not enough to read your Bible in the beginning of the day, and forget about it the rest of the day. ’cause that’s not how Jesus changes our lives. It’s not enough to read your Bible or hear a sermon once a week, now you gotta concentrate on other things, I understand we have jobs and kids and everything else that we’ve got to focus on, and yet there is also a sense in which when you hold on to one of these pictures of who Jesus is in the gospel, where you can take that with you throughout the day, even if you’re not actively thinking every second of every day about all the details of the store, you carry with you that knowledge of who he is, so I challenge you to do that, and don’t let a day go by where you don’t… That’s how you’ll be transformed, the secret of spiritual sight today’s sermon. Let’s close with the word of prayer, and then we’re gonna sing one more song. Just quiet your hearts now, please, and maybe this is the opportunity, this is the moment where you would like to just ask God as the Spirit to remove the veil so that you can see Jesus in His glory.
Go ahead and do that now.
Father, would you open the mind and the heart of each one in here so that they can see and know who you are, change and transform them, just rivet them, give them joy and great peace and a desire for justice and righteousness, and all of the wonderful things that come from truly relating to you, and I pray that for each one in here they would do that… Please challenge and change them, Lord. open somebody’s eyes even now.