WARNING: This will change your life. If you take the time and comprehend what the Scripture is saying, you will be transformed! Enter at own risk…
Did you know that hope can purify you? The Christian walk is steeped in hope. Not by hope in general, but rather by a specific hope. I think most of us as Christians have many hopes: eternal life in heaven, meeting our loved ones in heaven, the hope that someone in our life who is lost will come to Christ, and the list can go on. But the Bible, more accurately, the New Testament, has a golden thread of a specific hope that is woven into the writings of our forefathers. It is almost like a hidden truth that must be excavated, like uncovering a hidden treasure. The reason for this is beyond my knowledge; although, conjecture leads me to propose that maybe some spiritual truths absolutely must be “mined out” by spending time in the Word, that maybe the Spirit has left clues throughout His inspired words for the faithful to discover, or maybe it is hidden on purpose so we have to work at it! All that is conjecture. However, I want to share with you an amazing Truth that the Spirit showed me while studying 1 John, chapter 3. Enjoy…
1 John 3:2-4 says,
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
The astounding statement here is two-fold. Number one, that one day we will “be like Him”; and number two, this hope purifies us. Or rather, when we see Him we will be like Him. Sounds simple enough, but it is not that simple. That sounds incredible for when that day comes, but what about today? We can’t see Him physically now. If that is the case, then how do we become more like Him? You see, there is a truth here that is simply magnificent. The truth is that we can ONLY be transformed by “seeking His face”, by beholding Him, and by straining our spiritual eyes to see Him. For to not see Him, is to not know Him, and that leaves us unchanged. Sanctification (or purification) necessarily requires the Spirit to give us the eyes to see Him. But don’t take my word for it; let’s look at some scriptures that make my point for me!
2 Corinthians 3:18 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 from the Lord, the Spirit.”
And 1 Corinthians 13:12 says,
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
Notice in the verses cited above that it requires an action on our part, mainly to “see” or to “behold”. Also notice that the process of sanctification is described as “being transformed…glory to glory”. So the Bible is telling us something practical and supernatural here. But I wonder sometimes just how many of us take this seriously. Furthermore, don’t we sometimes think this some type of romantic notion, a philosophical and poetic suggestion, or even something we file away as “too deep to understand”? Honestly, what does it mean to see and behold Christ? If we can’t answer this question definitively then we are missing out on the glory and beauty that Christ purchased for us. Let’s look at few more verses and see if we can’t get to the heart of the matter.
Ephesians 2:4-7 says,
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Please notice that the scripture above when it says “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”, is in the past tense! That means it is already done, we don’t have to wait until we pass from this life to be seated with Him, and that the reason for this is so God can show the “surpassing riches of His grace”. We might be tempted to get confused here but bear with me; I will stitch this all together in a minute. One more passage of scripture and I will be off and running.
Romans 8:28-30 says,
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
Notice the phrase “conformed to the image of His Son”. That is God’s definition of things working together for good. Good, in God’s eyes, is not to give you a comfortable life, health and wealth, or a fat checking account. Although God can and does bless us in these ways, His ultimate plan and goal, predetermined for you and me, is to be transformed into the image of His Son! How many times do we quote Romans 8:28 when times are tough? We forget that sometimes those tough patches are meant to refine us and cause us to lean more on God in faith and consequently, bring us closer and closer to the image of His Son.
You have no idea who you are. That’s right, I said it. I will repeat; you have no clue as to who you really are. How can I say that? I can say that honestly because our true identity is hidden in Christ. Part of our quest in this life is to find ourselves in Christ. If you really want to know who you were created to be, then the only way to begin to truly see yourself is to seek Jesus! The monumental and mind-blowing truth is two-fold: number one, to seek Christ is to seek your true identity; and number two, to NOT seek Christ is to deny who you are.
How many times do we search our own hearts, try to figure things out by going inward, or rely on our own mind or will to correct what we perceive as a flaw in ourselves or a situation we need to address? We all do this from time to time, and some know no other way. The truth is that looking inward IS the solution; but where are we looking? We have to understand that our heart (same as our soul, biblically speaking) is not the place to look; that is the battleground. The true inward reflection is found in the spirit. The Bible is very clear on this fact: there is a difference between your soul and spirit. Your soul or your heart is where your mind, will, and emotions reside. If you rely on your emotions to steer you, then you will be tossed on the storm of emotions that all humans come equipped with; if you rely on your mind, then you are relying on a limited understanding (some more limited than others!); if you rely on your will, then inevitably you will fail. Even Paul in the book of Romans laments that even he is powerless to do the right thing (Romans 7:16-18), and actually delivers an awful verdict to himself. That verdict is found in verse 18 where he says, “I know that nothing good dwells in me”!
I know I promised “one last scripture”, but I have to bring into play one more (but don’t hold me to it). Now this passage is going to be the pivot-point of our understanding, so read it carefully at least once, if not twice. The context of this verse is Paul telling the Ephesians why and how he is praying for them. Paul is basically showing us a model prayer, and who prays a prayer (especially an apostle) that can’t be answered?
Ephesians 3:14-19 says,
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
Did you catch that? Notice that we receive power in the “inner man”, and that it comes by agency of the Holy Spirit. For what reason? So that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. Simply put, Christ cannot live in our heart until the Spirit makes it possible. So if we want to see or behold Christ in our heart, then we have to be empowered to do so by the Spirit! You can’t do it, a preacher can’t do it, and believe it or not, Jesus can’t do it either. I speak to born again believers here. Jesus just won’t show up one day unannounced or uninvited; the Spirit must be invited and He will announce Jesus to us! This, by the way, is not a one-time shot; this is a day to day endeavor on our part. It requires a daily invitation for the Spirit to “strengthen us with power in the inner man”. So the connection is clear and undeniable. If we want to “behold” Jesus or “see” Jesus, we must do this spiritually. And that spiritual vision is a gift from God that comes from His Holy Spirit. Then and only then will we be able to be transformed “glory to glory” by beholding our magnificent Savior. So we absolutely must get this: the Spirit ministers to our spirit/inner man in a very intimate way; this is not the same as ministering to our soul/heart. Our spirit is deeper than our soul, but the ministering of the Spirit in our spirit radiates outward and changes our souls! Think of it like the spirit being the light bulb and the soul as the lampshade; the spirit “light bulb” warms and gives light to the soul “lampshade”. Another way to think of it is like a circle within a circle within a circle: the inner circle is the spirit, the next circle is the soul, and the last circle is the physical body. True transformation happens from the inside-out; true change radiates from the deepest part of us and affects the soul and the body as well!
The common thread is love. It is all about love. In 1 Corinthians 13 (The Love Chapter), notice I pulled out only one verse, verse 12, but the context of the entire chapter is love. In Ephesians 4, we notice that this process “roots and grounds us in love” and that we will “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge”. Now I DO have to apologize for one last verse (I told you I might and don’t be surprised if I toss one more in for good measure!).
Notice that Romans 5:5 says, “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” There it is! Hope purifies us because hope doesn’t disappoint. But why? Because the love of God is poured into us by the Holy Spirit.
Now I am going to pull it all together. Ready? The hope that purifies us is that one day we will be like Jesus. The reason this hope purifies us is that it makes us want to be more like Jesus now! If you truly allow the Spirit to minister to you, you will come to know that your destiny is to be like Jesus…your hero! The idea that one day, when we meet Him physically, we will see Him face-to-face, and at that moment we will clearly understand who we are and who we will be for eternity. This is such an awesome hope that God expects us to taste it right now. We behold Him now in the spirit, but we must have eyes to see. The Holy Spirit gives you these eyes…if you ask for them. We are purified by this hope. And this hope is more than a thought or a notion; it is a tangible and very real thing. When the Spirit pours the love of God into you, it becomes more real than anything in the physical world. This is the reality and the hope that Christ purchased for us. The Bible tells us that the Spirit is our “down-payment” for an eventual, full ownership. So we see through a glass dimly, so we only see in part, so we only get a glimpse; but what an incredible gift!
I invite you today to take Jesus up on His offer to walk in the kingdom NOW. It is true. You can walk now in the kingdom by seeking Holy Spirit’s help and counsel and love and knowledge. But how do we do this? The answer literally yells out from the Gospel of Luke. Luke records an amazing statement right from Jesus’ mouth:
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:9-13 (NASB)
Paul prayed for his Church to walk in the Spirit’s power, Jesus tells us to ask for the Spirit’s power, and the Father knows how to give good gifts! Once you taste that the Lord is good and His love is poured into you by the Spirit, you will have that hope. Maybe you forgot what that is like, maybe the memory of when you were first saved has faded, but God wants to invite us back…every day! This hope makes God and His love very real to you. This hope is that one day you will stand before Christ and finally know who you are, who you have always been destined to be, and who you will always be. The race that we run is toward divine and pure love. Our destiny is to be like Jesus, conformed to His image, forever wrapped in heaven’s embrace and God’s love for His children.
One last scripture found in this photo (see, I snuck another one in on you!)
Be full of hope my brothers and sisters!