“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.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)
Moses did not know. Quite simply, he had enjoyed God. Face to face in interaction, like friends. Upon departing from that tent of meeting, however, Moses was clueless. His face glowed with and radiated the glory of God.
But the people saw. They were in awe of that transformation. In awe, that is, until it faded. And fade it most certainly would, every single time.
Because of this, Moses began a new practice after spending time with God. Cover up. He would take a veil and put it over his face. Most people thought he was embarrassed of the glow, but Paul tells us more. Moses was embarrassed of the fade (2 Corinthians 3:13).
The afterglow of God was amazing. The fact that it faded was not. Moses put a veil on his face to mask the fact the glow was departing.
Under the New Covenant of the cross of Christ, however, the glow does not have to fade. Under the old way a fade was necessary, but under the new way lasting transformation is possible. It happens “from one degree of glory to another.”
The veil can come off. The transformation can be real and permanent and powerful. What Christ does to us within need not fade away. His is a lasting work.
First, “we all” have this opportunity. Under the Old Covenant God was accessible, but men like Moses held a special place. Intermediaries for the nation, everyone watched while Moses and Aaron and the priests worshipped the Lord. Personal worship was invited for all, of course, and the sacrificial system helped that along, but Moses had a special thing going on with God. But the New Covenant opens up the possibility of a full experience with Christ for all believers. We all have access. Christ has won it for us.
Second, we come now “with unveiled face.” We no longer have to mask a fading glory, pretending as if transformation is real. No, it is real. No pretending required. The mask comes off. But this unveiling has more to do with our experience with God. We take the veil off before Him. We come to Him covered by the blood of Christ, approved by Him not due to our works, but Christ’s work. The blood of the Son makes us sons. We are accepted, therefore the veil can come off before God. This transparency with Him is stronger than anything we have with another human. With Him, we are completely known.
Third, we are “beholding the glory of the Lord.” This access we have to Him enables us to enjoy who He is in an unfiltered way. When we study who Christ is, we learn God’s Word, or we cry out to Him we are beholding Him. Like Moses who went to the tent of meeting, we meet with God, or at least we can. As we do, we are beholding His glory.
Fourth, we “are being transformed into the same image.” This is powerful, unreal. The same image we behold — the glory of the Lord — is what we are transformed into. Like Jesus' transfiguration before the disciples on the mountain, so we are transfigured. Moses had a temporary external change, but we have permanent internal change: transformation. We are, as we enjoy Him, becoming like Him. Like David’s men who became giant killers as well, we are being changed into the image of the one we spend time with.
Fifth, the transformation is “from one degree of glory to another.” It is a process, this growth. It is slow, deliberate, procedural. The methodical power of God is released upon us and we advance from one degree to another. A far cry from the magic wand experience many crave, this is a slow walk of faith before God. As we feed the Spirit we walk in the Spirit and transformation occurs.
Sixth, this is produced by “the Lord who is the Spirit.” He is the one who does this in us. The giftedness. The patience. The love. It all comes from the Holy Spirit stirring and moving within us. He develops us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ, the glory of God.
So for us, we get in and take that veil off before God. Transform us, Oh Lord.