The Broken Idea of Believing and Behaving and a Better Idea

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2 Corinthians 3:17–18 (NIV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 

CONSIDER THIS

“Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead . . .

Your turn: “And Christ will shine on you!” 

The key to moving from aspiration to activation is the grace-filled work of actuation. Actuation is the deep realization that Christ Jesus is in you.

Aspiration . . . Actuation . . . Activation. 

The idea that we go from belief to behavior is a broken idea. It has an apparent wisdom that turns out to be false. It really is fascinating to see Paul’s letters on so many different scraps of papyrus. In some ways it defies their immediate biblical context and yet in a greater way it reveals the synergy of the whole of his larger revelatory work. It is filled with both aspirational intention and demonstrated action. He just doesn’t get there by trying harder, by willpower or by white-knuckled discipline. We see how that goes when we read this scrap:

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:18b–19)

That is what happens when we try to move from aspiration to application. Again, though, a few verses later, Paul shows us the miracle of actuation:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1–2)

There it is: because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Nowhere does he say it more clearly than in today’s text:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

The how of actuation is contained in this massive Greek word: katoptrizó (pronounced kat-op-trid’-zom-ahee). Don’t even try it. This is the only time this word appears in the Bible. Our translation simplistically renders the word as “contemplate.” The better word, in my judgment, is behold. It is best rendered in a phrase: beholding, as in a mirror.

Imagine looking in a mirror and all at once seeing Jesus and seeing yourself. It would cause you to look again, and again, and again. The process of actuation, or becoming, i.e. being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, comes from beholding. And as the Scripture adds: which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

It’s why Paul wants to know, “Do you realize that Christ Jesus lives in you?” 

Still day one. 

THE PRAYER

Father, I want to behold your son, Jesus. I know in seeing him I see you. And I know I can behold nothing without the gift of the person of the Holy Spirit. I am ready to move past my longing and into really living. Holy Spirit, take me into your school of beholding Jesus. Though I have been at this a while I recognize I am still a beginner. Praying in Jesus’ name, amen.

THE QUESTION

What does the word “contemplate” conjure in you? How about “beholding as in a mirror”? How might you behold Jesus as in a mirror? Does it seem hard to you or confusing or simple and easy? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I find it helpful to see behold as in a mirror as the better translation because it conveys the fact what we view is a reflection. In my opinion this action requires the presence of other believers, this being a function of community. This idea of seeing the face of Jesus within the gathered faith community, where one sees Jesus reflected in all who are present, confirms the desperate need for small group ministry. We must remember that we are not the source of our light or saltiness, these are manifestations of the Spirit within us.

  2. To behold Jesus,
    “Be still and know.”
    Peacefully ponder
    His presence
    With your heart
    Opened to wonder
    And soon His reality
    Will manifest
    Within and around you
    And you will be
    Rapt in awe
    And wrapped
    In ever-increasing glory.
    Behold the Lamb of God,
    Not just for a few moments
    Here and there,
    But begin to live a lifestyle
    Of letting Jesus always
    And every where
    Bedazzle you.

  3. 1. a slight disagreement. my take on order: aspiration, then activation, then actuation. reason? Faith. with respect to the Word, Faith is a process. we Believe, aka accept as true, then Act as if it were true. then, as we do act in faith in His word, then we Become what the Word says. Faith builds in us as we SEE the promise manifest – made real. Works for allllllllllllllllllllll of God’s promises – justification, sanctification, healing, protection, prosperity, ….allll blessings promised by the father.
    2. katoptrizó. KJV renders it looking as into a mirror ( below). my take on v18. . when spirit filled, with Jesus in us, we see in that mirror not our image but that very image of Jesus – again, by faith. we may see our ugly mug, but by faith we remind ourselves that that ugly mug in the mirror is now increasingly the very Jesus, alive and active in us. and we act accordingly. PS. when we act, we are Done. it is now up to the father to DO what His word says. takes all the pressure off us for results.
    ’18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’

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