Today, we are continuing our series of teachings entitled “In the Mirror” where we are beholding in the mirror of this new and better covenant who we are in Christ Jesus. Again, the purpose of these messages is for us to learn what our true spiritual identity is so that we are protected from the identity theft that the enemy of our soul is constantly trying to accomplish.
You see, the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), and what this means is that even His creation, who are loved and chosen (as we’ve been learning) can still have their lives destroyed if they simply do not have correct knowledge. It doesn’t matter how loved we are and how much God wants them to experience a better life, if we persist in ignorance, then the enemy can rob us of what is rightfully ours.
The ultimate example of this is how the Lord God provided the Messiah and Savior of the world, Jesus, for us. He died for the sins of the world! He provided all of mankind with the opportunity for complete redemption, total salvation, and all of its many benefits. But do all receive this so great of a salvation? Of course not! And why not? Because the majority are simply ignorant of it. Sure, they might have heard the gospel before, but their spiritual lightbulb was never “enlightened.” Therefore, they persist in walking in darkness and, if they never receive the light, will be destroyed as a result of their lack of knowledge.
But it doesn’t just work this way with unbelievers: How many of you know that there are a lot of born-again Christians, who while they know about Jesus dying for their sins and will go to heaven one day, are ignorant of some of the other things that Jesus died to provide for us in this life? And guess what the result is—they will likely have the enemy rob them of the quality of life God had for them to live.
So, my point is that grace can be provided for us, but if we don’t know that it is available and stay ignorant of His provision, we can have the enemy steal it from us and even kill us as a result. Church, we need to know who we are and what we have in Christ Jesus so that we can walk in the life God has for us! And this is going to occur as we behold in this mirror of the new and better covenant all that we are and have in Jesus and then walk in these truths. Amen?
So, we have been looking at a passage of Scripture that is used to describe who we are in Christ Jesus--Second Corinthians 3:18–which I believe accurately “reflects” these truths. In it, the apostle Paul says, “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 by the Spirit of the Lord.”
As we have seen, the “we all” being referred to here is the Body of Christ, the Church of the living God. Therefore, every born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit, believer is with “unveiled face”—meaning, we are not reading the truth of the glories of this new & better covenant with a veil over our face like those under the Old Covenant. And that is why Paul goes on to say, “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord…” What glory are we beholding? Those truths of this new and better covenant of what Christ has done for us and who we are in Him! This is what we are to be beholding—the mystery of this New Covenant which is Christ in us, the hope of glory! Therefore, beholding the mirror of truths contained in the New Testament is us looking at who we are in Christ and who He is in us.
But, again, notice that he says that we are beholding “as in a mirror” these truths. So, the specific mirror that you and I need to be looking into in order to see who we now are is the far more exceedingly glorious New Testament where our new spiritual identity is on full display. Glory!
So, let’s quickly recap what we’ve seen in this mirror thus far:
A few weeks ago, we began looking into this mirror by looking at the filter everything is to be viewed through—love. And I made the point that I believe the first thing you and I need to see when we look into this mirror is that WE ARE LOVED! The first and foundational thing our hearts need to be established in, is in the fact that we are greatly loved by our Creator.
I made the point that since we are called the Lord’s Beloved many times through the New Testament’s Holy Spirit inspired pages, then that means that we “Be-Loved” by Him. So, the next time you look in the mirror, point at yourself and boldly say, “You be loved by God!”
But not only can we see that we are loved by God when we look in the mirror, we can also see that we are His new creation. This is what we saw next—that we are God’s own work of art, His masterpiece in Christ Jesus!
So, because of His great love, God began something special in each one of us when we made Jesus the Lord and Savior of our life. We saw from Second Corinthians 5:16-18 that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus where old things have passed away and all things have become new. And we learned that what God creates, He does perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Amen?
So next time you and I look in the mirror, we ought to say, “I am God’s New Creation! He is the Potter and I am the clay! And He has placed His treasure in this earthen vessel! Therefore, I am God’s Masterpiece, His poem!” Amen!
This led us to another part of our spiritual identity that we would do good to look at in the mirror of God’s Word: Not only are we loved, not only are we His masterpiece, but we are also chosen.
We looked at a number of Scriptures last week, and we learned that in Christ Jesus we have actually been chosen, selected, and predestined. Ephesians chapter 1 teaches us this: We saw that the apostle Paul said in verse 4, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
So, we saw that God “chose” all of us. How? In Him! So, you see, God the Father chose His Son Jesus, but by us choosing to be “in Him,” we are chosen as well. Glory! And notice when it was that God chose both us and Christ: It was not after we did everything right or grew up spiritually into a certain level of holiness and righteousness. No, He chose us in Him “before the foundation of the world.” That means before ever the foundation of the earth was laid, God chose us in Him. Yes, before we ever did anything wrong or right, we were selected by God. Amen!
So, again, all of us who have received the Lord Jesus Christ are “chosen” by God—not because we are holy and without blame before Him, but to become holy and without blame before Him. Which led us to an important point, if we were chosen before we made any of our choices—good or bad—then does that mean we do not have a choice? Absolutely not, because there are many Scriptures that teach us that one must choose salvation to be the chosen for salvation.
We learned this from Ephesians 1:5 when Paul mentions that dreaded word “predestined.” In this verse, he went on to say, “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” But what we learned is that God’s predestination is based on His foreknowledge according to Romans 8:29 & First Peter 1:2. Therefore, love does not choose what others do; love gives a choice! And that is why God has always given mankind a free will.
We also looked at the Scripture where Jesus made the following statement— “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (See Matthew 22:14). And we learned that the word “chosen” here is the same word commonly defined as “elect.” But the word “called” is important here—for it means to be “invited” (to something like a banquet). You see, this shows us that just because one is “called” doesn’t mean that they have accepted the invitation.
But the main point I wanted to get across from this verse is not how we become the “predestined,” it is to show you what we were predestined to—and Paul says here that it was “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself”!
I made the point that I believe adoption is actually one of the greatest acts of love that one could perform. Why? It is because when a child is begotten, although their parents might have been planning on having that child, the specifics regarding that child were not chosen. In other words, the parents receive what is handed to them by the grace of God, and of course, they love that child. But for a couple to adopt a child means that they specifically chose that child—meaning they picked out exactly which child they wanted. Not only that, but they jumped through many hoops to be able to adopt a child. It wasn’t like they decided they were going to adopt one day and they said, “Let me make a call.” No, it took a lot of time, effort, and resources to be able to have custody of a child. Now that, my friends, is love!
But my point was that so many children who are adopted seem to struggle with the idea that their biological parents gave them up for adoption. But as difficult as that is (and I certainly do not make light of the struggle involved in one’s soul if this was what life handed them), what that person needs to magnify is not what their biological parents did to them, but what their adopted parents did for them. You see, the fact that there was a couple out there who specifically chose a child to be a part of their family even though they originated from another man and woman shows the unconditional love and grace of God. How do I know this? It is because this is exactly what Father God did for each of us:
So, the Lord chose, predestined, and adopted us into His family, etc. because He wanted to; not because He had to! Always remember that: It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the abundance of grace that He already has given! Amen!
Now we concluded last week by looking at a section of verses that beautifully summarizes and further describes what we learned– First Peter 2:4-10: We learned that Jesus was the original Living Stone that God chose and held great value to God. But we also saw how Peter went on to say that “we also, as living stones…” meaning that we too are elect by God and precious!
Church, this illustrates to me something awesome: I made the point already that the value of something is based on what people are willing to pay for it. Well, if God the Father was willing to pay the price of that living stone—Jesus—to redeem us, then that means that you must be at least equally as valuable to the Father as the price He paid. Let me say it this way: Since God paid the astronomical price of the blood of His Son for your salvation, then that automatically means that you are extremely precious and valuable—even to the point of being worth as much to Him as Jesus is. Now that is a hard “gos-pill” to swallow right there!
But we looked at verses 9&10 because I believe these verses “mirror” who we are as God’s living stones: We are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
You see, we are God’s chosen people today. Now some believe that Peter was talking to Jewish believers here, but verse 10 teaches us otherwise—for Peter said that these believers were not a people of God, but are now the people of God. So, I believe we who had not obtained mercy have now obtained mercy in Christ Jesus!
So, just as Israel was called holy unto the Lord God and His own precious treasure unto Himself, now all who call on the Lord Jesus Christ and are born again are His holy nation—for all who are in Christ are citizens in the kingdom of God. Glory be to God!
Now this week, I want us to camp on this point we briefly touched on about God’s people being considered holy to Him because when we look in the mirror of the New Testament, we see this same truth reflected time and time again.
TWO KINDS OF HOLINESS
Now we saw last week that being holy does not just describe some state of perfection. We saw that it can actually mean that we are special, precious and different to Him. So, holiness is not necessarily some state one attains to. It also describes the way another views something or, in this case, someone.
I used the example of the “Holy Bible” and how while it’s certainly perfect and infallible, it is also called “holy” because it is special and different from any other book on the planet. So, it is “holy” in that it is a special and precious Book while also being perfect and without error.
But here is another good example of how “holy” can also mean to be different and special: First Thessalonians 5:26 says to greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. Now how many of you know that you are not go around kissing other Christians like you would kiss your wife!?! You better not come to this church kissing on people like you kiss your spouse. No, a holy kiss would obviously be both a pure and a different kind of kiss—meaning, it’s not like other kisses out there while at the same time being void of any impure motives.
Well, just like we have a “Holy Bible” and “holy kisses”—which are precious and pure things—God’s church is said to be holy and without blame before Him in love. That means that He views us, spiritually speaking, as “infallible, without error, precious and prized.” Yes, we are different, His own peculiar treasure, that is passionately loved by our Creator!
Church, I believe this is the way the apostle Paul used this term “holy” in Ephesians 1:4 when he said that God chose us in Him “that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
Now when we look at the terminology here, we can read it as saying that Jesus chose us in Christ so that someday we should become holy and without blame before God. But that is not what Paul was saying here. He was saying that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world so that we should, at the moment we receive Him, be holy and without blame before God. In other words, in Christ Jesus, we are holy and without blame at the moment we are born again and remain that way as we remain in Him. Amen!
And notice how this verse says that we are holy and without blame before Him: You see, we might have a different opinion of ourselves, and others might have different opinions of us, but it’s not anyone else’s opinion that is important; it is God’s opinion that truly matters. And if He views us as “holy” (i.e. special, precious, different, and prized) and “blameless” (We will look at this in a moment) then that’s the way we are. Period. Amen?
Now one of the ways that you know how someone views you is by how they refer to you. And when we look in the mirror of this new covenant that you and I are in with God, we see a term that is commonly used to refer to us—the word “saints.”
Of course, this term is used when someone like the apostle Paul was referring to one of his churches, but again, we need to take these references like “beloved, saints, etc.” like God is talking to us, as all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and these men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the things they did. Therefore, when we see that we, as a body of believers, are referred to as “saints,” then I take that as how my Heavenly Father sees me.
In fact, I have found that we as the body of Christ are referred to as “saints” over 50 times in the New Testament! (See Romans 1:7, 8:27, 12:13, 15:25-26,31, 16:2,15; First Corinthians 1:2, 6:1,2, 14:33, 16:1,15; Second Corinthians 1:1, 8:4, 9:1,12, 13:13; Ephesians 1:1, 1:15,18, 2:19, 3:8, 3:18, 4:12, 5:3, 6:18; Philippians 1:1, 4:21-22; Colossians 1:2,4,12,26; First Thessalonians 5:27; Second Thessalonians 1:10; First Timothy 5:10; Philemon 5,7; Hebrews 6:10, 13:24; Jude 3,14; Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4, 13:7,10, 14:12, 15:3, 16:6, 17:6, 18:24, 19:8, 20:9). That’s a lot! In fact, it is used many more times than the term “Christians, believers, etc.”—any of these other titles that we give ourselves today as followers of Christ. So, apparently, this is one of the predominant ways God sees us. Glory!
You know, the way that we generally use the term “saints” today is to either refer to old Christians or dead ones. That’s right—we like to call the elderly Christians who have lived somewhat “holy” lives this, and some also like to refer to the renowned Christians who did great things many generations ago this way too. But again, the Bible doesn’t share these same sentiments. Like we said, it refers to every born-again believer this way time and time again in the New Testament.
Now someone might then gravitate towards watering down the meaning of the word “saint” when they see it refers to every Christian, but it does essentially mean what we have believed it to mean. It comes from the Greek word hagios which literally means “holy ones.”
In fact, this word hagios is the very same word used to describe God’s “holy” law (See Romans 7:12), the “holy” apostles and prophets (See Ephesians 3:5), the “Holy” Scriptures (See Romans 1:2), the “Holy” Spirit (Romans 5:5), the “Holy One,” Jesus Christ Himself (See First John 2:20 & Revelation 3:7), and, yes, the Lord God Almighty Himself who has the hosts of heaven constantly declaring that He is “Holy, holy, holy!” So, do you know what that means? It means if we are His holy ones, then we are in the same boat with the rest of these other Most Holy things!
Romans 11:16 gives us this same principle: “if the root is holy, then so are the branches.” We might say according to Jesus’ word in John chapter 15, if the Vine is holy, then the branches are truly holy as well!
Now I understand that there are those out there who might say, “Well, don’t the Scriptures say that we are to be holy even as He is holy? (See First Peter 1:16) Yes, but the context here specifically refers to being holy in all our conduct, and we need to understand that there is a big difference between our “who” and our “do.” No, I am not talking about your hairdo, but about your actions, conduct, etc. So, yes, there is a difference between who you are and what you do.
Speaking of hairdos, this is one of the very things some church people think makes someone holy—how they wear their hair. They take Scriptures like First Peter 3:1-6 and say, “See there, if you are going to be holy, then you can’t be fixin’ your hair, wearing jewelry or nice clothes.” No, no, no. That’s not Peter’s point here. He was not saying that a Christian should not wear nice clothes, put on jewelry, or wear makeup. Listen, if an old barn needs painting, paint it, bless God! Just don’t make your outward man your priority. So, what Peter was teaching them was that we shouldn’t “merely” be concerned with adorning our outward man—for its beauty is fleeting—but we should give our attention to what we are wearing on the inside for that is what is very precious in the sight of God. And I’ll tell you, the hidden man of our heart is what is important! It is to God and ought to be to us as well!
So, should we walk in holiness? Absolutely! We need to live lives that correspond with who we are in the spirit and reflect our holiness for all the world to see. What we should avoid, however, is basing our holiness on our actions. We are not holy because of what we do; we are holy because of what Christ has done.
Let’s look at another verse in this Mirror that reflects the same truth, just in a different way:
WITHOUT SPOT OR WRINKLE
In the Book of Colossians, which is a mirror book to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:21-23). What a powerful passage of Scriptures!
Now when Paul begins with the words “And you,” what he is doing is continuing along the lines of what he said in the prior verse about Jesus making peace through His blood and reconciling the world unto Himself. So, a good paraphrase of these truths might be: “Not only has God reconciled all things back unto Himself through Jesus Christ, He also has reconciled all of mankind to Himself that receive His Son Jesus Christ.” Glory to Jesus! This will become important when it comes to what he said next …
Paul goes on to say, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works.” Notice that this says we “who once were.” That’s a far cry from “who now are.” But it sure doesn’t feel this way sometimes, does it? Sometimes those “wicked works” can leave us feeling in our minds like we are alienated from and enemies of God, can’t they? Yes, when we miss it and fall short of God’s glory, we are left feeling “alienated,” which literally means “to be excluded, separated, or foreign to.” This means that His life can feel “foreign” to us. Not only that, but we can even feel like God is hostile towards us.
But I want you to notice where the core-root of this alienation from and hostility towards God was located— “in your mind.” In other words, what we experienced was a result of the way we were thinking and what we believed in our heart. So, what this means is that if it was our “stinking thinking” that led us away from God in the first place, then the renewing of our minds must be part of the process of restoring us back to God. In other words, if this alienation began in our minds, it is possible that we can continue to experience alienation in our flesh & soul until our thinking changes.
And I am telling you the truth, the majority of Christians who have been fully reconciled to God do not sense or experience that reconciliation and live their entire lives feeling like God is way up there somewhere and they are stuck way down here all alone. This ought not to be so, church! This verse goes on to say, “yet now He has reconciled.” Not, “yet in the future He will reconcile,” but “now He has reconciled.” Therefore, all who have put their faith in Christ have been and currently are reconciled unto God! Glory!
Once you renew your mind to that truth—when you own it as yours—then say goodbye to feeling like you are alienated from God and His enemy! Praise God! You will experience that peace that comes through His reconciliation!
Then notice the glorious truths of verse 22— “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight…” So, Jesus offered up His life as a sacrifice for our sins in order to present us to God like an offering that is holy, blameless, and above reproach in the sight of God!
Now we’ve already touched on this word “holy,” but let’s look at the other terms used to describe our reconciled condition in Christ …
The word “blameless” refers to being “faultless & without blemish”—like the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were to be without blemish. In fact, this word “blameless” is the same word used in 1 Peter 1:19 to describe Jesus as the Lamb “without blemish” and without spot. Therefore, we have been presented to the Father like pure and spotless lambs because we are in the Lamb of God who is pure and spotless! That means we have no spots, no wrinkles, and are presented that way to our Holy Husband (Compare with Ephesians 5:26-27).
Notice the next words— “above reproach.” This literally means “not called in” (i.e. “not called to account”). This phrase describes being totally free from any charge being on our account. You see, not only are we made without blemish, but all the charges that we previously had on our account have been washed away in the blood of Christ! Glory! But wait, it gets even better …
Paul goes to say that we are holy, blameless, and above reproach “in His sight.” This is the same “sight” that all things are naked and open to the eyes of (See Hebrews 4:13). The Greek word for “sight” literally means “to look down it,” denoting a deep inspection and a penetrating gaze. You see, God has so thoroughly cleansed us, made us blameless, and erased the charges we once had, that not even God’s most thorough and penetrating inspection can detect a flaw in our newly recreated spirit! Glory!
Again, the picture that Paul is painting here in verse 22 is of God’s most desirable offering under the Old Testament. He began by showing how Jesus—who truly was the perfect sacrifice—died for us so that He could present us—who were imperfect in ourselves—as “holy, blameless, and above reproach in the sight of God.” Yes, Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God who is without blemish and without spot—suffered in our place—so that we could become His perfect and holy people, that even under the most complete and thorough inspection of God Himself would be found to be perfect and complete before Him! Glory to God!
And guess what qualifies us for this amazing grace? Just a continuing faith as verse 23 goes on to say— “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard…”
Now “the faith” being referred to here is the faith of Jesus Christ, our new and better covenant. So, with that in mind, let me remind you of one of the verses that we are basing this series on--James 1:22-25. In these verses, Pastor James was teaching his congregation how God’s Word is like a mirror, and the way to be a doer of the Word is to continue looking in the mirror as opposed to hearing the Word and then going away from the truths you’ve heard.
Well, I see the same principle here in Colossians 1:23—that we must continue in this mirror of the New and Better Covenant, grounded and steadfast in it, in order to experience this “holy, blameless, and above reproach” state. And I would say that this is exactly how you and I live in the awareness of who we are in Christ and how our Father views us—by continuing to look in the mirror of the faith and constantly beholding these truths! Amen!
Church, we must set these truths ever before us and proclaim them in the face of all temptations to believe otherwise. Yes, when our flesh, our own heart, or the devil tries to tell us that we are impure, unclean, or not special, it is then that we need to proclaim that we are “Holy!” When our mind or the enemy tries to tell us that we are to be blamed, it is then that we must proclaim that we are “blameless.” When any of these things try to bring an accusation of something we may have done, it is then that we must proclaim that we are “without reproach.” Yes, it is when we look in the mirror and declare “It is written, It is written, It is written” that we will begin to experience the fruit of who are in the spirit. Amen!