According to Scripture two things are happening simultaneously. Outwardly, we are “wasting away” while inwardly we are “being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). This body Paul calls a “jar of clay” has in it “this treasure” of the gospel of the glory of Christ. And it is because of this treasure that we both experience “momentary afflictions” and one day “an eternal weight of glory.” Without the centrality of the gospel, neither of these realities would be known.
Beholding Christ and Being Made New
The way in which we are being made new is seen in 2 Cor. 3:18 which says:
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.
This little verse packs glorious truths of how we are being made knew and what God is making as the Potter upon these jars of clay. The means of renewal is “beholding the glory of the Lord.” Sounds quite abstract, doesn’t it? But Paul makes it plain what, rather who, we are to behold in 2 Cor. 4:4, 6. We are to behold (vs. 4) “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” and again (vs. 6) “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The gospel is the eternal spotlight on the glory of Christ, so if we want to know the glory of God, we must look supremely upon the face of Jesus Christ.
The effects of beholding Christ is that we might be renewed (transformed) into the image of God from one degree of glory to another. We are being transformed because this process of being made new is so glorious that we cannot handle it but in degrees! The image of God marred by sin is be recreated in the new man being perfected for glory. Paul tells the church at Colossae that they have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:10). The image which God is committed to renewing comes from the knowledge found in the gospel which leads us to see and savor Jesus Christ who is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
What this means for you and me is that renewal in the Christian does not come by growth steps but by gospel sight. It is not what we do for Jesus but what we see in Jesus that brings us into greater conformity to His image. A failure to center your life on the gospel and embrace the supremacy of Christ has tragic implications because this is precisely the means of renewal we need to experience the eternal weight of glory that awaits us. Each degree of glory in our daily renewal and transformation are like birth pangs when we shall be like Him fully, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
And oh, what a glorious day that will be!