The goal of this sermon is to help us to perceive, to grasp, to feel our desperate need for the Spirit’s powerful work — in particular, our desperate need for His work of opening the eyes of our hearts that we might behold Christ, be transformed and bring glory to the Savior.
The purpose is also to inspire us to plead with God, in prayer, for more of the Spirit’s work in our lives, in our families, in our church for as this text makes clear – as we behold Him, we become more like Him.
What do I need more than anything? What do you need more than anything? What does our church need more than anything?
It is not some fresh insight, new idea, or change in circumstance. What we most need is a powerful move of the Spirit upon our hearts – whereby we see Christ with greater clarity than ever before. This is why the Spirit has been given to us and what the Spirit delights to do.
The work of the Spirit is the dominant theme in chapter 3.
In our text, verses 17-18, Paul continues to expand upon this theme of the Spirit’s work.
We will highlight three aspects of the Spirit’s work we see in this text using three keywords — Freedom, Glory, Transformation
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Paul is talking about the comprehensive liberation, the thorough release, the wide-ranging deliverance that the Spirit gives to those God saves.
Show, in context, some of Paul specifically means when he talks about freedom.
Sometimes we may not feel free. Highlight the importance of not listening to our feelings.
The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self…. The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. –Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones
The Spirit reveals glory — more specifically, the Spirit reveals the glory of Christ.
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.
Paul is very clear–Beholding the glory of the Lord and the resulting transformation is nothing less than a powerful work of the Spirit of the living God.
The Floodlight Ministry of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit’s distinctive new covenant role, then, is to fulfill what we may call a floodlight ministry in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ…..I remember walking to a church one winter evening to preach on the words “he shall glorify me (John 16:14),” seeing the building floodlit as I turned a corner, and realizing that this was exactly the illustration my message needed.
When floodlighting is well done, the floodlights are so placed that you do not see them; you are not in fact supposed to see where the light is coming from; what you are meant to see is just the building on which the floodlights are trained. The intended effect is to make it visible when otherwise it would not be seen for the darkness, and to maximize its dignity by throwing all its details into relief so that you see it properly. This perfectly illustrates the Spirit’s new covenant role. He is, so to speak, the hidden floodlight shining on the Savior.
Or think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder, on Jesus, who stands facing us.
The Spirit’s message is never, “Look at me; listen to me; come to me; get to know me,” but always “Look at him, and see his glory; listen to him, and hear his word; go to him, and have life; get to know him, and taste his gift of joy and peace.”
If there is one primary thing the Spirit of the living God desires to do in your life and mine it’s this: It’s to shine light on the glory of Jesus Christ.
Often times we ask ourselves, we may ask others, we certainly ask the Lord “What is God doing in my life? What is He up to? What is He trying to accomplish?”
While the answer to that question is often complex and there is much we don’t know, one thing we do know is this: God, by the Holy Spirit is always, at every point seeking to help us to see Christ more clearly.
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.
Here we see, the Holy Spirit shines the light on Christ, He enables us to see Christ and behold Christ and the result is transformation.
The Spirit conforms us into the image of Jesus Christ. The Spirit makes us more like Christ. He changes us from one degree of glory to another.
That means process. We aren’t sanctified instantaneously. WE are being transformed, gradually, progressively, one day at a time.
Practically, here’s what this means: One of the main things we can do that will help us more to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ is to prayerfully, in dependence upon the Spirit of God, meditate on the person and work of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospel.
That’s not all there is to sanctification, but it is the most fundamental part of it…Look to Jesus.
“It is in the exercise of faith on Christ…that the Holy Spirit puts forth his renewing transforming power in and upon our souls. This, therefore, is that alone which will retrieve Christians from their present decays and deadness.” — John Owen
Let us preach the gospel to ourselves, not passively, but prayerfully, earnestly, expectantly– anticipating that God by His Spirit will move powerfully upon your heart.
May we expect God to do what this passage says God will do when the Spirit enables us to behold Christ.
May we expect God to actually reveal to us more of the majesty, greatness and glory of our Savior.
May we expect Him as a result to change us from one degree of glory to another.
Questions For Discussion/Application:
Re-read the text, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
Read John 15:26, John 16:14. What do we learn from these verses about the work of the Holy Spirit?
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17).” Prior to our conversion, we were not free. Now we are free. In what ways, by the Spirit through Christ, have we been set free?
At times in the Christian life, we don’t feel free. When we sin, condemnation and discouragement can easily set in. How should we respond when we don’t feel free?
Read the Lloyd Jones quote under the first point. What does it look like practically to not listen to ourselves but rather to talk/preach to ourselves the truths of the gospel/God’s Word?
Review the notes under the second point. How does the Spirit reveal/show Christ to us?
What aspects of Christ’s character stir your heart to worship Him? Consider that the Holy Spirit is the One who opened the eyes of your heart to see these things about your Savior.
One of the main things we can do that will help us more to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ is to prayerfully, in dependence upon the Spirit of God, meditate on the person and work of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospel. What are some ways practically that we can do this?
Consider taking time to pray as a group for more of the Spirit’s work in revealing/illuminating the glory of Christ to our hearts.