Transformed Into the Image of Christ

As a jeweler focuses his eye with a steady gaze upon a diamond to see its glittering facets and marvel at its brilliance; so we have looked at the diamond of the fruit of the Spirit, whose facets are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  Each facet of the fruit of the Spirit has been held before our mind’s eye (the eye of faith) in its Biblical meaning, in its reflection in the lives of the saints, and in its perfect revelation in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But what happens to those who behold these graces of the Holy Spirit by a true and living faith?  What is the result in the lives of the elect when they are brought face to face with the fruit of the Spirit?  We are transformed into the image of Christ!  Think of the blacksmith of old who opens the door of his kiln to look in at the metal he is heating.  The orange and white hues of light reflected off that white hot metal shine upon him, so that he in the dusty darkness of his blacksmith shop is aglow with radiated light.  So the Holy Spirit shows us the fruits of the Spirit as they are revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and we are basked in their light so that we are actually transformed into their likeness.  No, not perfectly now.  In fact, to our shame, only a small beginning is now seen in us, and each fresh revelation of the fruit of the Spirit shows up more dirt and corruption in us by nature.  Yet the Holy Spirit does transform us so that now, in principle, the children of God are being transformed into the image of Christ.  True of you?

The Holy Scriptures teach us this in a passage such as II Cor. 3:16.  “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

The doctrine of this verse may be stated thus: The Bible reveals to us the glorious image of Christ.  On all its pages, Holy Scripture draws in clear and lucid lines the portrait of Jesus Christ.  They reveal His glories—His love, joy, peace, meekness, goodness…And the Holy Spirit, opening our eyes to behold it, transforms us into what we see, so that we are transformed into Christ’s image.  The Holy Spirit, through the Word, works the fruit of the Spirit within us with the result that we are transformed into the image of Christ.  Actually, the text tells us that the Bible is like a mirror giving the believer to behold the image or portrait of Christ.  The mirrors of the ancients, unlike ours, were not made of glass, but of highly burnished metal, which reflected images with great brilliancy and distinctness corresponding to the metal.  If the mirror were of silver, a white light would be the result; if of gold, a yellow glow would be diffused.  The Holy Spirit takes the glorious image of Christ revealed in the Scriptures in all its brilliance and radiates them upon us so that we are transformed into Christ’s image.

There is a certain law which may be stated this way: what we see is what we become.  The objects we look at, the books we read, the pictures we see, soon exert an influence upon us and we become like them.  And that principle operates in the spiritual realm.  Beholding the mirror of God’s Word wherein is displayed the fruit of the Spirit, all of which are perfectly displayed in the face of Christ: the Holy Spirit by a powerful grace transforms us into what we see.

Make no mistake, we are changed!  Remember how Moses’ face shone from beholding the glory of Jehovah God?  So we are transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of our Lord and are given the fruit of the Spirit.  Ours is not an outward transformation that appears on our faces and soon fades away.  It is not simply to be equated to an emotional change.  It is not merely an intellectual awakening.  But inwardly, as the light of God’s Word is directed by the Spirit to our new hearts, the image of Christ is stamped upon them.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit, through the Word and especially the preaching of the Word, to beget in us corresponding principles and graces which we see in Christ.  Christ displays in His person the fruit of the Spirit perfectly.  He is longsuffering, good, meek, love…The Spirit takes of Christ and shows it unto us, transforms us inwardly and spiritually into that image.  “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” II Cor. 5:17.  Changed by the Spirit into the image of Christ we say: “How reasonable and good that I should love with all my heart the infinitely glorious God.”  How fitting that I should be entirely for Him, subject to His will, who is Lord of all.  What perfect peace and joy is mine.”  Transformed into the image of Christ, the elect soul consciously patterns his life after Christ, to walk as He walked, to speak as He spoke, to do as He did.

Bear in mind a number of truths in this connection.

First, the Holy Spirit produces this transformation.  Apart from His divine work, whereby He molds us into Christ’s image, all is useless.  The Holy Spirit must remove the veil of unbelief from our eyes, create a clean heart within, and stamp upon the renewed soul each one of the fruit of the Spirit.

Second, the Holy Spirit does this through the Word.  “Beholding” these things, we are changed.  Only in the way of reading the Word with a believing mind, does the Holy Spirit effect this transformation.  It is especially the preaching of the Word, or the “ministry” which is used of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this transformation.

Third, the Holy Spirit transforms us constantly and continually.  Our transformation remains incomplete as long as we are in the body of this flesh and have not been brought to Him face to face.  There is a transformation which the Spirit will work instantaneously when He raises our bodies from the dead and makes them like unto our Lord’s most glorious body.  Until then, the Spirit molds every believer daily according to the image of Christ.  He does this in the way of working in us true repentance and godliness.

Now, as we come to the end of these articles on the Fruit of the Spirit, we must take inventory of what we have learned and examine ourselves whether or not their fruit is being more and more worked in us.  What about you?  Is there this fruit in my life—true love of God, joy of salvation, experience of the peace passing understanding, a life characterized by longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness, gentleness, temperance?  Whom do I reflect in my speech, deeds, thoughts: Christ? or the Devil?

How can I know?

There are several features to be found in those in whom the Holy Spirit has transformed into the image of Christ and thus implanted the fruit of the Spirit in them.  They are:

1. When the Spirit has begun to transform a soul, God’s divine law is received as the rule of life.  The heart will begin to echo Christ’s words: “Oh, how love I thy law.”  There can be no fruit of the Spirit in a life lived in rebellion to God’s law.  When we are given respect unto all the commandments, the fruit of the Spirit will also follow.

2. Where the Spirit has bestowed the fruit upon the heart, there will be genuine humility.  There is no greater proof that a man is ignorant of the truth savingly, and a stranger to Christ experimentally, than for pride to reign in his heart.  A lowly heart, awed over God’s grace, is the heart in which the fruit of the Spirit resides.

3. Those who possess the fruit of the Spirit find that they are daily drawn to God’s Word.  They feel that they need to look into the mirror and behold the face of their Lord.  Only that Word will suffice.  They joy in beholding His image in the Word and can’t get enough of gazing upon Him as He is seen in the Bible.

Go then to the Word!  Hear it preached in all its truth!  And standing before the mirror, you are changed, from glory to glory, into the image of Christ!  Given now in principle the fruit of the Spirit, we long for the day when we shall be like Him and possess in perfection: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.