II Corinthians 3:18 – 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.)
All of us are familiar with the expression, “The mirror don’t lie!” I recently made the mistake of going to a different hairdresser and upon looking in the mirror experienced that expression firsthand. It was not a good cut and the mirror didn’t lie! After the cut, I kept going back to the mirror, hoping it might somehow magically reflect a different image, but the mirror continued to reflect otherwise. Day after day I continued to work on the image I saw in the mirror as best I could until lo and behold, one day when looking into that mirror, I noticed my hair had begun to grow a little. O happy day! From day-to-day, however, the mirror still reflected the remains of a bad cut. Some days it didn’t look so bad, but some days it didn’t look so good either! I finally realized there was nothing I could do about it but just thank God that he causes hair to grow, and to accept the fact that it’s going to go through some unattractive stages while doing so. God’s word tells us that we, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image of Christ, and that it is the Lord who causes us to grow into that image. Some days we aren’t going to look so bad, but some days we aren’t going to look so good either. Like me with my hair, we got a bad cut in life thanks to Adam and our image has reflected it ever since. We, too, are going to go through some unattractive stages while God, in his grace, causes us to grow out of that image. The important thing is not to give up. Keep looking in that mirror and keep working on that hair, until it reflects the image you desire to see. And don’t worry, we have the best “hairdresser” in the world. He is a master stylist! As my hairstylist so graciously said to me when I told her what I’d done, God says to us also, “I’ll get ya fixed up!”
God created man to reflect the inner image of himself. Genesis 1:17 tells us, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God created man and woman with a specific identity unto themselves and a distinct personality unto themselves, but one with him in the inner image of himself. God has always intended for the inner identity of man to reflect his image. A mirror reflects the likeness of a person. The reflection in the mirror is not that person themselves, it is merely a reflection of the image of that person. Jason Henderson (Not I, But Christ) explains, “We don’t become Christ, but we become vessels of his nature, character and life.” Interestingly enough, the definition of mirror is: “Surface capable of reflecting light.” We, as a mirror, were created to be capable of reflecting the light of God within. Scripture tells us that “God is light and in Him is no darkness.” When Adam chose to disobey God, the light of God’s presence in man went out, and the mirror of man’s heart was no longer capable of reflecting God. A mirror must have light to reflect an image. In speaking of those who did not see with eyes of the Spirit, Jesus said, “If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness.” Because man no longer possessed the light of God, his understanding became darkened. He could only see by the darkness of his own blind soul. Scripture says of the natural man, “They grope in darkness with no light.” This is the light that those who have not been born of the Spirit still see by today. Jesus said of them, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” We must be careful who we are following today. Many are not being led of the Spirit, but by the darkness of their own blind soul. In contrast, Jesus said if you see with eyes of the Spirit, “your whole body will be full of light.” When a man is born of the Spirit, it’s like turning a light on in a dark room. The whole room is filled with light.
“Man came into the nature of Adam through birth, and the cross offered the way out through death.” (Henderson). In Adam, we got a bad cut. The only way for man to once again reflect the image of God was for man to die and be born again into the nature and identity of a new man, one that was capable of reflecting God’s image; one full of light. Jesus was that man. Scripture tells us, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” and “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” The “exact representation” of God resided in Jesus as a man. When we are born again, we are “made alive with him” and become “partakers of the divine nature.” In Christ our identity changes from one born of Adam (flesh) to one born of Spirit (Jesus.). Isaiah 64:8 acknowledges, “We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand.” God’s word begins with “In the beginning God created.” Try as he might, man cannot recreate what God has created. Ecclesiastes 6:10 tells us, “Whatever a man is, God has made him to be, and a man cannot contend with He who made him.” Nicodemus wisely pointed out, “Surely a man cannot enter into his mother’s womb to be born again!” Nicodemus was right, a man cannot change his God-given identity in the natural man. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit. You must be born again.” Only in Christ can a man be born again into a new identity. John 1:11 tells us, “to all who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” The only way for a person to be a new creation is through Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!”
The definition of the word identity is: “Exact or essential sameness. The condition of being the same as a person or thing. The condition or fact of being a specific thing.” The identity of a thing requires exact or essential sameness to that thing. In Christ, we have been given the exact or essential sameness of Christ’s nature, and it is “as Christ is put on and Adam is put off, that we become living manifestations of Jesus indwelling life and nature in us.” (Henderson). It is only as we submit to the new nature of Christ and resist the old nature of Adam, that we once again become mirrors that reflect the inner image of God. If you don’t want to walk in darkness, you have to turn on the light. The only way to embrace the new man is to forsake the old one. To reflect the identity of one, you must forsake the other. As Jason Henderson points out, “Christ did not die so that Adam could continue living.” And as T. Austin Sparks so rightly says, “It is shameful and wrong to use the cloak of God’s grace as an excuse for continuing in the nature Christ came to destroy.” God gave Adam the right to choose to submit his will to him and Adam chose to follow his own will instead. In contrast, Jesus said, “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” In Jesus, God provided the man who would do what Adam would not do; the man who would, “do only what my Father tells me to do.” That is the nature Jesus came to restore in man. Those who would “choose to do what is right in their own eyes” are still giving place to the nature of Adam.
The identity of a thing requires exact or essential sameness to that thing. Essential sameness means a person or thing must possess that which is essential to being that person or thing. Everything God created was created to be and to do a specific thing and given that which was essential to fulfilling their created purpose. Male and female were created to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” That is still their created purpose today. God also created man to reflect his image, and that is still their created purpose today as well. Being born of the Spirit is essential to fulfilling God’s original purpose for man. Only in Christ can the Adamic man die and a new spiritual man be born in order to fulfill that purpose. In Christ every race, every gender and every class of people share in the same identity and are given the exact and essential sameness of Christ through the Spirit. Colossians 3:11 tells us, “In this new creation all distinctions vanish – but Christ is all in all – everything and everywhere, to all men, without distinction of person.” (Amplified Bible).
I realize there are many people in the world today who feel themselves to be of an identity they were not born with. I cannot in all honesty understand or explain that, nor do I stand in judgment of those who struggle with it. God’s word tells us, “We all stumble in many ways.” We all struggle with the old sin nature of Adam and it often makes us stumble in many ways. I think Paul, in Romans 9:21 perhaps gives the best advice concerning the issue of a person’s identity in asking, “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” In other words, Paul was reinforcing the wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 6:10 that, “a man cannot contend with He who made him.” I admit I don’t have answers for all of the complicated issues in this life. In the end, I think it all goes back to that one bad cut that we all need to grow out of, and I do know a little bit about bad cuts! I know that everyone’s hair grows at a different pace, and it is God who causes it to grow. Scripture tells us Christ’s body, “grows as God causes it to grow” also. It reminds me of an old song I used to sing in church when I was a little girl. “He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be, ’cause He’s still working on me.” All those who are in Christ are still growing and God’s still working on that bad cut. He promises in his word that he will, “finish the good work that he has begun in you.” In Zechariah 4:6-7 we have a picture of God’s faithfulness to finish the work he has begun in us in Christ. Zerubbabel was given the responsibility of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. God told him the temple would be built, “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” The word of the Lord came to Zerubbabel saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it.” Jesus is God’s Zerubbabel and we are the temple of God. He has laid the foundation of God’s grace in us and he, by his Spirit, will complete it.
Oswald Chambers writes, “God wants to bring us into union with Himself, but until we are willing to give up our right to ourselves He cannot.” Jesus said, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Giving up our right to ourselves, giving up our identity, is the only way to enter into the new identity that God offers us in Jesus. It seems to me that in a world where so many people are trying to find themselves and their true identity, we’re missing the point. What a person identifies as isn’t nearly as important as Who he identifies with. Only God’s grace offers you an end to who you were born into being and a chance to have a new identity; a “new do” if you will. Only God can give you a new cut and help you grow out of that bad one. At the end of life’s long day, whatever your identity might be in the natural man, the only identity acceptable to God, is the life of his son. As Jason Henderson so wisely observes, “Both condemnation and salvation are determined by the man in whom we are found. The work of the cross declared only one man alive to God and all others “dead in trespasses and sins.” All that matters now is which man are you in?” And if you want to be sure, take a good look in that mirror, ’cause the mirror don’t lie!
THE MIRROR DON’T LIE
One day I went to the hairdresser to get myself a new do
The hairdresser said, “I know just the cut that will really look good on you!”
And so with scissors in hand she began snipping at my hair
And I began to realize it was getting rather short back there!
But before I could say a word the damage had been done
And the image in the mirror was not an attractive one
Every time I looked in the mirror the image was the same
And every time I walked away I hung my head in shame
Then one day I noticed that my hair was beginning to grow
Although as progress goes it was growing very slow
And so I asked the Lord if he would bless the hair upon my head
And to my surprise, this is what he said,
“The problem is not your hair my child, your hair looks just fine
The problem is you are looking at your image, instead of looking for mine
And it doesn’t matter about the cut because I can cause your hair to grow
But it is my image child that you are meant to show
So stop fretting about your hair, your hair will be just fine
Just keep working to make sure that your image is looking more like mine
Till one day when you look in the mirror and take a long hard stare
The reflection that you see will be my own reflection there
And I can find no fault in the image that I see
’cause the mirror don’t lie about what’s looking back at me.”
(I Corin. 13:12 – Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”)