One of the greatest promises that we find in the Word of God is that believers will be conformed to the image of God’s dear Son. To the human mind such a thing is incomprehensible, we cannot even begin to understand what this means to the believer. The words “conformed to the image” mean both an inward and an outward likeness.
- “Conformed” means the very same form or likeness as Christ. Within our nature—our being, our person—we shall be made just like Christ. As He is perfect and eternal—without disease and pain, sin and death—so we shall be perfected just like Him. We shall be transformed into His very likeness.
- “Image” means a derived or a given likeness. The image of Christ is not something which believers merit or for which they work; it is not an image that comes from their own nature or character. No man can earn or produce the perfection and eternal life possessed by Christ. The image of Christ, His perfection and life, is a gift of God.
To be conformed to the image of God’s Son means…
- to become a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
When a person believes in Jesus Christ, God sends His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to indwell the heart of the believer. God places within the heart of the believer His own divine nature and makes him a new creature and a new man. The believer is actually born again spiritually. He actually partakes of the divine nature of God through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
And note what happens: the believer escapes the corruption that is in the world. He lives eternally, for the divine nature of God can never die. When it is time for the believer to depart this life, quicker than the blink of an eye, his spirit is transferred into heaven, into the very presence of God Himself. Why? Because of the divine presence of God: the believer is a new creature, a new man, a person in whom the very Spirit of God Himself dwells; and the Spirit of God cannot die.
- to be adopted as a son of God (Ephes. 1:5).
How unbelievable—what a glorious privilege to be adopted as a child of God! And note:
⇒ It was predestinated, that is, foreordained.
⇒ It was the pleasure of God to adopt us—the good pleasure of His will. And it was His purpose to adopt us, and His purpose and His pleasure and His will were all good.
This is most striking when we consider how sinful and depraved we are and how much we have cursed, rebelled, and rejected God. The fact that God wills and finds pleasure in adopting us and that He counts it as good is too much to believe. Yet, it is exactly what He says.
- to be holy and without blame before Him (Ephes. 1:4; Ephes. 4:24).
God has chosen us to be holy and blameless. This is a wonderful verse. Just imagine! God determined before the world was ever created that He would have a people…
- who would be “in Him,” that is, in His Son, Jesus Christ.
- who would be “holy and without blame.”
- who would live “before Him in love”—forever and ever.
This means a most wonderful thing; God wants us to be with Him. God does not want us separated from Him, gripped by sin and shame, sorrow and pain, death and hell. God wants us to live forever and ever with Him. In fact, note that God has determined that some will live with Him and Christ. He has “chosen us”—chosen believers—to live with Him. No amount of rebellion and rejection, cursing and denial of Him will stop His purpose and plan. God will have a people who will live with Him, and He will continue to choose us until He has the number He has purposed.
- to bear the image of the heavenly: which is an incorruptible, immortal body (1 Cor. 15:49-54).
Men pattern their lives either after Adam or Christ, either after the world of after heaven. They who live for the earth and its worldliness are those who are living only after the first Adam; therefore, the only body they will have will be a body of death; that is, a body that will be separated from God.
However, the persons who pattern their lives after the heavenly Christ, will be given a body just like the body of Christ, a perfect heavenly body. All persons who turn from the image of the earthly to the heavenly (Christ) will bear the image of the heavenly.
- to have one’s body fashioned (conformed) just like His glorious body (Phil. 3:21).
The believer’s life is to focus upon the glorious body he is to receive when Christ returns.
- Right now the believer’s body is vile, that is, lowly and humiliating. The human body is so lowly and humiliating…
- because it has its origin out of the earth: it is nothing more than earthly chemicals or human flesh.
- because it is subject to sin and selfishness, evil and destruction.
- because it is so weak: it becomes sick and diseased, injured and maimed, aged and deteriorated.
- because it is corruptible and dying, aging and mortal, offering no hope of ever lasting beyond a few short years—no hope whatsoever.
- However, note the wonderful declaration: The Lord Jesus Christ shall change the believer’s body and fashion or make it just like His glorious body. The word “fashion” points out a most wonderful thing. The word means the permanent, constant, and unchangeable being of a person. Our bodies shall be fashioned just like the glorious body of Christ. Imagine! To have a body that is permanent, constant, and unchanging. The believer will receive a spiritual body.
- to be changed (transformed) into the same image of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).
In beholding Christ, believers are transformed into His image. The phrase “we all” means believers, those who have turned to Christ…
- who have had the veil removed from their face.
- who stand face to face with the glory of the Lord.
When a believer receives Jesus Christ as his Saviour, he is given the privilege to stand face to face with Christ. This simply means that he is given the privilege to know and understand Christ. Note several points.
- The phrase “open face” means that the believer is given the privilege of standing face to face with Christ, the privilege of knowing Christ personally and learning all about Him. There is no veil over the face or eyes of the believer, nothing to keep him from knowing the Lord.
- The object of the believer is to behold the glory of the Lord. This means to behold the Godhead and deity of the Lord, the splendour, brilliance, and excellence of His person and Being. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who became Man. His “glory” refers to the glorious fact that He as the Son of God did become Man. When a person grasps this fact, he understands the “glory of the Lord,” the incomprehensible fact that the Lord paid the supreme and ultimate price, the unbelievable price, for the salvation of man.
- The believer, however, never grasps the full glory of the Lord. No man, who is only finite and flesh, could ever understand the Lord, who is infinite Spirit. The believer only sees and understands the glory of the Lord as in a glass or a mirror. That is, he only sees a reflection of the Lord, not the full image. Presently, the believer is able to see the Lord only through the Word and the Holy Spirit; in the future, he shall stand face to face with the Lord throughout all eternity. Then he will know the Lord even as the Lord now knows him.
- The believer is changed or transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory. This probably means two things.
⇒ When the believer beholds (grasps, understands, studies, lays hold of) the glory of the Lord, the same glory is created in him.
⇒ When the believer beholds the glory of the Lord, the believer progresses and grows from one stage of glory to a higher stage.
- to be recreated just like Him (1 John 3:2-3).
There is the great hope and mystery of God’s love, the eternal transformation that believers shall undergo. Note the great declaration: “Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God.” It is not that we shall be God’s children; we are already God’s children. If we have trusted and given our lives to Jesus Christ, we are now the children of God. Now note the declaration again: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” We know what we are now, but “it does not yet appear what we shall be…when he [Christ] shall appear.” The contrast is emphatic: we know what we are now, the children of God, but we do not know what we shall be like when Christ returns.
Note the words: “When he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” God is light; therefore, when we first see God face to face, His light will be transmitted to us and we shall become light even as He is light.
The believer is to be made just like Christ, conformed to His very image. This means that believers shall be like Christ in person and in character. Believers shall possess a perfect body and being. This is a precious thought. It is more than just a general idea that believers are to be like Christ. It is a definite idea—the idea that what Christ is, believers shall be. The whole precious idea is that Jesus Christ took the believer and purified and exalted him; therefore, the believer is to partake of the purity and holiness of Christ.