Challenge or Change

“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” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Perhaps one of the more frequent comments regarding preaching, Biblical teaching (in any of its media) is that one has been challenged by it. It may be surprising for many of us to discover that the word “challenge” does not appear in the Bible. Even the concept does not appear in regard to the effect the Word of God will have on a person – either believer or non-believer.

Sometimes it seems that we speak as though being challenged is the intended end of any biblical teaching.  The intent of the Word of God is to convict us not challenge us. When we accept that it is the Holy Spirit convicting us that there is an aspect of our lives contrary to the Divine Nature then we can move on to humble repentance. Following repentance there will be transformation. The word “transform” comes from the same word from which we get metamorphosis. This word describes the process that a caterpillar experiences when becoming a butterfly.

It would be profitable for each of us to spend some time regularly asking ourselves whether we are being transformed. “Am I more Christlike than I was one year ago?” If we haven’t changed we will be unable to answer such a question and we should take a serious look as to the reason why not. Paul writes that if we would be transformed it is the mind that must be the recipient of correct input and the correct input is God’s Word (Romans 12:2).

What did Paul mean in 2 Corinthians 3:18 (quoted above) when he wrote “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory?” As we look into the “mirror” of God’s Word we will be convicted (never challenged) so that we might repent and be transformed from glory to glory. The transformation is from living as a fallen person to expressing the Divine Nature in our physical bodies (Romans 12:1). The Christian being constantly transformed will reveal the glory of God more and more completely. The glory of God is His own Divine Nature.

If anyone says it cannot be done then that one is, at best, a defeated Christian. Jesus lived a God glorifying life in His body and the risen Jesus can do the same in our bodies if we will let Him do so by fulfilling the conditions He gives us in the Bible.

The reason we say that a sermon or some Biblical teaching has challenged us is because we do not want to face up to the fact that the Holy Spirit has convicted us of the need to make some change in our lives. If it is only a challenge we can convince ourselves that it is a good idea but we do not need to respond. If we acknowledge that it is the Holy Spirit convicting us then we know we cannot throw away the teaching we have heard or read without serious consequence.

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