Biblical Change

We believe the central method by which God transforms a person is by giving that person a greater understanding of His attributes, value, and glory as seen in the person of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Word and Spirit of God (2 Cor 3:18). Because of this our hope is that the articles you find here will not only convince you of this reality but continue you in this progressive change into the likeness of His glory.

Feelings Are Followers, Change is Possible

Author: Tim Bryant
June 01, 2018

Hope by Reaching Out for Help

Author: Tim Bryant
December 30, 2016

Avoiding Despair-Depression Pt 2

Author: Tim Bryant
August 02, 2016

We have a great, brand new location that publishes all our articles from this blog. Click to access. Thank you for reading. May these be used to help you pursue biblical change.  Tim Bryant, Director

 

Three Needs Before Medicating Emotions

Author: Tim Bryant
April 08, 2016

This is an approach to helping someone who is experiencing emotional symptoms that are debilitating. Emotional symptoms that would, in most cases in our day, lead to the immediate use of mood altering medication. This approach attempts to, in such cases, encourage the assessment of the following three areas of need before medicating with psychotropics: 1) The Spiritual - knowing that we were created by God and for God and designed to function best when our choices and lifestyle are in harmony with His Word and reflect his character; 2) The Physical - knowing we were created with a body that has been designed with basic needs that must be cared for properly: nutrition, sleep, exercise, etc. 3) The Medical - knowing that even in spite of proper care of the body, our body can mysteriously malfunction and tissue become damaged or diseased as a result of all of us being under the effects of death and the curse which was introduced through the fall of Adam.

Let it be clear that this approach does not believe that the use of mood altering drugs is wrong, but often overused and prematurely used. Many times it is necessary to medicate the emotions if the person is a high danger to themselves or others and there is no alternative available that can offer protection. But these cases are rare. Overuse and premature use of mood altering drugs has led to masking real problems such as lack of self control, wrong thinking, secret deviant behavior, poor sleep habits and poor dietary choices. Additionally psychotropic can mask adverse medication and food reactions or the diagnoses of true medical diseases, such as hypothyroidism or endocrine disturbances like decreased testosterone. The approach I would encourage places the use of mood altering drugs secondary to the importance of examining and addressing the more foundation areas for potential need: the spiritual, physical and medical. This is contrary to much of the current culture which often places prescribing drugs as the initial, and sometimes only, treatment paradigm. Once these three initial area are sufficiently assessed, a remedy clarified and pursued (if issues discovered), then the use of psychotropic drugs in medicating the emotions are considered as a possibility.

Assess Area 1: Spiritual Needs
What is the condition of their relationship with the Lord - what do they know and believe about Him and is that being developed into a healthy fear, confident trust and growing love of the Lord resulting in character growth? Are they in appropriate environments tailored for their struggles that are meeting this need? Are changes in these environments needed (i.e. parenting styles, dynamics and methods, school, church, friendships, use of time, counseling, etc.)?

Assess Area 2: Physical Needs
Are their basic needs for nutrition, sleep and exercise being met? Are significant dietary changes warranted? Is help needed to aid in sleeping better from a medical, cognitive, or nightly routine perspective? Is a specific routine of exercise needed?

Assess Area 3: Medical Needs
Do tests reveal a true physical malady or deficiency in the body needing medical treatment? Is more research, testing and treatment needed? Is a medical specialist warranted that can look into a specific area that seems suspect? Are the medicines and treatments being used effective or are some medical changes warranted?

Assess Area 4: Psychotropic Drugs
Has sufficient effort been attempted in the above areas to discover and remedy without signs of significant results on the emotions? Are the emotional symptoms dangerous or debilitating enough to warrant medicating the emotions - knowing emotional symptoms are often signposts to real problems on other levels that have yet been revealed (spiritual, physical, medical)? Remember medicating emotional symptoms can more deeply mask the root issues needing attention. Many times there are answers on the other levels that if applied, will positively affect the troubling emotions, but the reason this often does not occur is: 1) our diagnostic ability to assess the spiritual and physical condition is limited, or 2) the person struggling is not willing to discuss and discover the real issues on the spiritual or physical level or give the necessary effort to consistently apply the things the spiritual counselor or doctor has prescribed.

If indeed psychotropic drugs seem warranted, biblical counseling is encouraged to continue so that the medicating of emotions will not remove due diligence in the pursuit of spiritual relief to the emotional symptoms. Many times a person who is placed on psychotropic medications and yet continues pursuing biblical perspective change will experience in time a change that, under a doctors care, allows them to back off the medications.

May the Lord gives us wisdom as we seek to biblically care for souls who live in earthen vessels.

Tim Bryant
Director of Lowcountry Biblical Counseling Center

(Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

Protecting Our Kids from the Culture—Can We or Should We?

Author: Sherry Allchin
March 10, 2016

Culture is just a set of rules, beliefs, values and customs that are transmitted through language, objects, rituals, institutions, and art from one generation to another. Culture in and of itself is not bad or good, but it does set one group apart from another. So the conclusion is that we all teach culture to our children, either the world’s culture or God’s culture, intentional or inadvertently.

We can’t protect our kids from culture because culture reigns in our hearts! There have always been both good culture and bad cultures producing either good fruit or bad fruit (Mt 7:16-18, Mt 12:35).

We must then direct them as best as we can to a culture that values the eternal, that lays up treasure in heaven, that lives for God, loving and serving Him and others, a culture that points both our hearts and others toward the Lord, glorifying Him in all we do and say. 

As God-fearing parents, we want to help our children accept our culture of Faith, to build a solid foundation that will stand against the contemporary cultures of Humanism, Evolution, Post-modernism, Atheism, etc.

We want to use the culture (arts, beliefs and values, language) to develop and mature Faith that will stand against the tide of ungodliness.

Here are some resources for parents to help us think about intentionally building a 2 Tim 3:14-17 culture with our children to help them thrive against a 2 Tim 3:1-8, 13 culture.

Online Protections:

1. Protecting Your Family

2. Teen Pornography Statistics 

3. Kids and Pornography

Parenting Help:

1. Godly Moms

2. Godly Parenting in a Structured Environment

3. Biblical Character

4. Bad Words

5. Appreciate Each Child

6. Behavior Goals

7. Spanking

Evaluate Their Friendships:

1. Choose Friends Wisely

2. Quality Friendships

3. Evil Companions

Sexual Issues:

1. Preventing Abuse

2. Sexual Abuse Engagement List

3. Strange Woman

Wisdom and Character:

1. Characteristics of the Fool and the Wise

2. Answering a Foolish Child

Redeeming Your Pregnancy

Author: Greg Gifford and Amber Gifford
February 29, 2016

            As my wife and I welcomed our second-born child, we thought and collaborated about what we learned in this pregnancy. By ‘what we learned’, I am referring to what God taught us; things that transcend how to assemble a crib to how do we interact with suffering—even the suffering of pregnancy. Below is a simple representation of what we concluded and we pray that as you engage your pregnancy, or the pregnancy of a loved one, that you too would redeem your pregnancy.

Feel Deeply and Passionately About the Sanctity of Life

            As you experience the joys and trials of nine months of carrying another human being, feel deeply about the sanctity of life. A mom cannot feel the baby in her womb without thinking of a life that is growing inside of her. May this cause you to have a heightened value of that life. God is working inside of you the miracle of life. A baby is being formed and knit together inside of you at the cellular level (Ps. 139:13)! The process of human life is beginning inside of you. Feel that, marvel in that, praise God for that, and passionately believe that.

            Do not give into a culture that wants to hold a high-view of human rights and a low-view of the sanctity of life. Let your motherly intuition show and confirm that what is inside of your womb is indeed human and life-full. Therefore, prize that life, value that life, and hold firmly that the baby in your womb is a person created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27): hold firmly that life is sacred.

Marvel at the Process of Pregnancy

            As you witness the miracle of life forming within you, always let that be a cue for praise to God. When you visit Baby Center or read charts on the growth of your baby, let those be stimulants for praise within your life. When David thought of the complexities of gestation, it was a time for him to remember the omniscience of God (Ps. 139:15), so how can you reflect praise as you think on your baby’s formation? Perhaps you could reflect on the faithfulness of God to provide doctors? Or you could praise the grace of God for epidurals (my wife says, “Amen!”)? Or you could praise the creative work of God in forming your child? Whatever that looks like, let your pregnancy be a reminder to praise our good God.

Evaluate Your Heart

            Pregnancy will reveal your hearts attitude (Prov. 4:23). You now have a ‘legitimate’ reason to demand. So do you? You can now maximize your suffering and minimize your responsibility. So do you? You can now be pampered. So do you? Many women fall into the trap that pregnancy is a sanctioned time of emotion-led, hormone dictated responses to life. Yet, Scripture teaches that God has given us the means to be Christlike in every context of life—even pregnancy (2 Pet. 1:3). Of course you will need to rest more, but are you more ‘cranky’? Are you snapping on people rather than considering their needs as more important that your own (Phil. 2:3-5)?

            Pregnancy will not make you into something that you are not already. It will simply—under the pressure of a growing baby—reveal who you are. Maybe you are a dormant critic who is exposed in your pregnancy? Maybe you love to be pampered and now you have the opportunity to demand that pampering? Guard your heart and evaluate your heart during pregnancy, while living out that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

Longing for Christ’s Return

            Are you longing for Christ’s return like you long for the birth of your child? 2 Timothy says that all those who love the appearing of the Lord (2 Tim. 4:8) will be judged by Christ. Meaning, there will be people who love Christ’s return and people who will not. So that leads me to ask, do you love Christ’s appearing like you love your child’s appearing? Are you counting the days until the return of Christ like you are counting the days until your baby arrives? Or is that not even on the radar for you? One of the prayers that my wife and I consistently prayed is that God would help us to long for the coming of Jesus like we did the coming of our child.

Encouraging the Barren

            In this time of great excitement, how will you encourage those who cannot have children? Because in very real sense, every time they hear a lady is pregnant, it is like an old injury returns. When you feel joy and excitement, they are reminded that they might never take a child to their first day of school. Or they might wonder what Thanksgiving will look like for their family, with no kids around the table. Please be sensitive to the fact that some wombs have been closed by our God, even though yours has not.

            This does not mean that your pregnancy should be void of great joy to you and your family but it does mean that you are not flaunting the blessings you have received. When the body of Christ hurts, every member feels it (1 Cor. 12:26). So in this time of great joy, be sensitive to the pains of those women who are barren. They would gladly experience the morning sickness, sleepless nights, and swelling ankles to welcome a child into their home. While they should never transpose their pain into your joy, you should never try to transpose your joy into their pain.

Complaining or Encouraging?

            Finally, be aware of your tendencies during your pregnancy. As mentioned above, your heart will become radically apparent under the pressure of a growing womb. And in that pressure, ask if you are constantly complaining? Paul (writing this while on house arrest) said that we are to “do all things without grumbling or complaining” (Phil. 2:14). The hard part is that this includes your pregnancy!

            As if that were not a big enough jab, evaluate if you have shifted from encouraging and serving others to being encouraged and served. Pregnancy is not a hiatus from ministry. It is rather a nuanced time of ministry. No, you may not be leading Jump Rope for Life but you can lead of team of women who write encouragement letters. No, you may not be able to sleep for six hours per night but you can help babysit for a mom in need.

            One of the most terrible tragedies in a pregnancy is when a woman lets her universe become self-centric: her rest, her food, her comfort, her pills, her pain, and her cravings become the axis upon which everyone must rotate. Therefore, be on guard against the subtle temptation to make your pregnancy about you!

Practical Steps for Change:

As you consider how to serve others in your pregnancy, here are a few questions to get you moving in the right direction:

1. How do I need to be more serving to those who are around me (Tit. 2:14)?

2. What verses to I need to memorize to help me not grumble or complain under the physical pain of being pregnant (Phil. 2:14)?

3. What are some things God has shown me I need to change as revealed in my pregnancy?

4. Lastly, who can I pray for that is struggling to get pregnant and what are practical ways I can encourage them?

 

Avoiding Despair - Part 1

Author: Tim Bryant
February 13, 2016

Avoiding Despair (i.e. Depression) in Difficult Times (Part 1 of 2) 
What is the difference between being perplexed and being despairing? A person in despair looks at a challenge and says, “There is no way out!”, while a child of God, in the same challenge, can look and say, “I don’t see any way out, but I believe God will provide.” Depression is a hopeless response to a challenging circumstance.


In 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, Paul describes his tough circumstances. He was “afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down”; and yet, note the four faith-filled responses to those circumstances (underlined below):

(2 Cor 4:8-9 NASB) we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; {9} persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

Biblically, depression can be diagnosed as a hopeless response that causes spiritual inability to handle life to the glory of God. And because hopelessness is sin, there is hope for the depressed! A despairing believer must first gain biblical hope by gaining a divine perspective on the challenge; This will not necessarily change the circumstances, but will change our ability to obediently persevere in doing God’s will. It can be helpful to read through the perspective of Jeremiah in Lamentations in 3:17-26, or Caleb and Joshua in Numbers 13:25-14:9 to see how perplexing situations do not have to become despairing (i.e. hopeless.)

What to Believe in Perplexing Circumstances
God declares in His Word that He is responsible for both the challenging circumstances and the pleasant circumstances of our life – this is called God’s Sovereignty. (Read Job 2:10; Ecc 7:14; Is 45:7; Lam 3:38; 1 Sam 2:6-7; James 4:15; Mk 10:29).

God declares in His Word that He uses secondary causes to bring these challenges about: 1) God Works Good Through Satan’s Sin (Read about Job’s loss - Job 1:12, Job 2:6); 2) God Works Good Through People’s Sin (Read about the Christ’s death (Jn 19:11; Acts 4:27:28); 3) God Works Good Through a Nation or Ruler's Sin (Read about the invasion of Israel - Prov 21:1; 2 Kings 17:18-20); 4) God Works Good Through Natural Disasters (Read about the disciples stormy sea experience - Matt 8:26,27).

If we are in Christ, God’s control over all things is used to help us become more dependent upon Him and grow in Christlikeness (Read Rom 28- 29; 2 Cor 1:8-9). Every challenging circumstance will accomplish good for the child of God if handled rightly (Read Heb 12; Gen 50:20; 2 Cor 1; 2 Cor 4:17; 1 Pet 1:7).

We may be tempted to believe that somehow God can produce good in us without the bad in our lives and that somehow suffering is a negotiable tool for God as He seeks to strengthen our faith and change us into Christ’s image. This is not true. (Read Phil 3:10- 11; 1 Pet 4:18; James 1; Phil 1:19; Rom 8:16-17).

What to Do & Not Do in Perplexity
Responding to challenging circumstances wrongly will not lead to any intended good, but rather lead to greater challenges in your life (Gal 6:9 -10). Here are some typical disobedient responses to challenging circumstances:
1. Worry - Mat 6:25-34
2. Anger – Eph 4:26,27; Eph 4:31-32
3. Neglect of responsibilities—2 Tim 4:5; Eph 5:1-17 (becoming a hermit, few productive activities, undisciplined eating and sleeping routines, slack on care and training of children, etc.)
4. Sinful Escapes – Matt 5:27ff; Rom 13:14; Mk 4:18-19 (heavy drinking, internet obsession, hanging out with wrong crowd, shopping sprees, responding to flirtation, off limit conversation with men, and even worse spending time with them, soap operas and romance novels, etc.)

All these responses will lead to earthly despair and possibly even eternal despair in hell. (Read Prov 13:15; Ps 32:3-5; 1 Jn 2:19). This downward spiral of emotional depression and despair is evidence of a lack of biblical faith and hope actively in control of the mind and actions. (Read Gen 4:6-7; Ps 27:13; Heb 11:6).

But at any time in this downward spiral of depression, if you confess any sin and turn to Christ and His way of escape, the spiral can be reversed (see Prov 28:13; 1 Jn 1:9). Your circumstances may not change, but your spiritual eyes and desires will.

(Part 2 will provide a clear method for reversing the spiral of despair by biblical faith.)

Setting Goals for 2016

Author: Dr. Ron Allchin
December 06, 2015

Setting Goals for the Year 2016

Is It Biblical to Set Goals?

With the approaching New Year, I recently reviewed the goals I had set for last year and was really encouraged when I realized that many of them were achieved.  Some had not been entirely accomplished, yet I wasn’t discouraged even though I certainly could have focused more or planned better.  I contemplated what would be my goals for the coming year or even if I would set goals.  Certainly if I set no goals, I would have no motivation to reach them, nor regrets for not.  The real question is, what would Jesus have me to do?

In Luke 14 Jesus certainly taught the purpose for goals: to consider the future and to set wise and reachable goals.  Jesus encouraged His disciples to “sit down first” before they made any future plans and to consider the consequences of no goals.  If their goal were the construction of a building they must “count the cost” BEFORE they started to build.  If it were to win a battle, they were to “consult” with others to find the best strategy for victory.

Our lives are like the building of a building.  Jesus taught His disciples that the “wise man builds his house upon a rock.”  The Rock is Jesus, but more specifically building on this Rock is one who hears the sayings of Jesus and does them. He is the person who always consults with God’s Word and counts the costs to determine if he is building his house right, so that at the end he will have implemented a victorious strategy.

What kind of Goals Should I Make (Luke 2:52)?

  • Spiritual goals: Bible study, Prayer, Scripture memory, Attending church, etc.
  • Intellectual Goals: Continuing education, Reading good books
  • Physical Goals: Eat right, Exercise, Rest, Get a physical or dental care
  • Social Goals: Make a new friend, Join a small group, Become a better friend
  • Communication Goals:  Encouraging words and Reconciling relationships
  • Financial Goals: Disciplined earning, saving, spending and giving of God’s money
  • Vocational Goals: Work at your job as if Christ were your boss – He is!
  • Marriage and Family Goals: Schedule fun dates with your spouse and children

What is the Only Heart Motivation that Brings True Success?

To reach God-honoring goals during the New Year demands we have the right motivation.  Some set spiritual goals of reading the Bible just to say, “I have read the Bible through this year.”  Some set intellectual goals so that they can get a better job or make more money. Others set physical goals of diet and exercise so they can look great or feel stronger.  Some might work harder to please their boss or to get a good review and promotion. Spouses and parents may have date nights just to please each other.  

These are all good motives, but they neglect the primary motivation. Without an eternal purpose, all other temporal motivators will fizzle out within a few weeks or months.  We all know what that is like.  We have all created goals for the wrong reasons only to find when the reason disappears, we lose the heart to continue onward.  Biblical goals demand eternal motivations! 

This year choose 1 Corinthians 10:31 as your creed for life.  God’s Glory must be the primary motive for making goals.  “Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, do it all for the GLORY OF GOD.”  Paul uses activities that are so routine, things we do several times each day so we don’t miss the point.  How many times during this holiday have we mindlessly eaten another cookie or drank something?  Yes, even eating and drinking are to be to the Glory of God and are included under physical goals.  All the other goals fit under “…whatever you do…do as unto the Lord….” (Col 3:23).

Without God as the ever-conscious motivator and His Glory as the eternal and primary motivation, all other plans will either wither away, or falsely succeed with a prideful self-motivation that misses the real reason we try to achieve anything in life (Phil. 1:21).  Am I asking myself the right questions issue by issue as I daily live my life?  Might we all ask ourselves this question many times throughout each day of the new year:  “Am I being motivated at this moment toward this goal primarily because I desire to bring glory to God (Isa. 43:7) as I reach it?”  

Can a Person Really Change?

Author: Tim Bryant
November 07, 2015

I have been director of the Lowcountry Biblical Counseling Center (www.lcbcc.org) in Charleston South Carolina since 2003. We have seen God do great things for His glory in many lives and marriages. The reason for the successes is because our counseling seeks to be carefully and methodically based on the biblical theology of sanctification. The testimonies that come out of LCBCC affirm to you that people can truly change when Christ is at work through the truth of His Word. No one is in a hopeless state. But God must supply you power to change as you supply the effort. Both are needed! You cannot change on your own, but God will not choose change for you. Indeed God will, if He loves you like a Father, place you in some very difficult circumstances to persuade you to change. (See James 1:2-4, John 15:3, Heb 12:6,7 & 10-12, 1 Peter 1:6-9) He has done this in my life. But in the end, the process of change, according to the Bible, is a cooperative effort between God and you. Both must be active. God is the initiator and you are the responder.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in 
my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work 
out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at
work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:12-13

Testimony – “I had some private addictions that had hurt my wife repeatedly for years. I had tried and tried but could not break free. Finally, I lost control to my sin and made a bad decision that cost me my job. My wife as devastated. Through biblical counseling my eyes became open to how practical the Word was as the Spirit began to persuade me to repent and change my heart. For the first time I had a power to choose to think Truth in temptation! God’s Word has now so replaced my addictions that when my 4 yr. old son pretends to be “dad” he now bows his head and starts reciting little scriptures he has heard me praying. Apart from LCBCC teaching me how to use Christ’s Word in my battle against sin, there would be no restored life or marriage.”

Testimony – “Last year my depression had become more and more dark, and panic attacks had become more and more frequent. God was using suffering to teach me to trust in His control and His promises, to increase my faith to give up my anger, to be more disciplined in meditating on His thoughts, not mine, to give up my desire to be a super mom and wife”

Testimony – “I had anger that had not been dealt with and unforgiveness in my heart mixed with an enormous amount of pride. I would listen to no one. It led to explosive and destructive behavior. I ended up losing the most precious gifts to me – my wife and son. God broke me. Through Biblical Counseling I have been restored to God, my wife and son. If God is willing to help change me, I know He will do the same for others.”

Do you see a common thread in each of these testimonies? It is Philippians 2:12-13. God gave each of these the power to change. He placed them in tough circumstances that provoked them to change and then spoke through the ministry of His Word to convince them of their need to change. But, each of these responded to this power of God at work in them and around them by “working it out” in daily life. They made choices to think on and act on the Word of God. Apart from the cooperative effort between them and God, change would not have happened. God supplies the power, we provide the effort. (See 1 Cor 15:10, Rom 8:12-13, Phil 3:10, 2 Cor 9:8, Phil 4:13, 1 Cor 9:24-27)

Note that Philippians 2:12-13 uses the word “salvation” in the context of “working out”. This may seem confusing because of other passages like Ephesians 2:8,9 that says we are “saved not by works but by grace”. The moment your heart first responds in faith and repentance, you are saved, meaning you are no longer under the penalty of your sin. Yet, the more your heart responds in obedience, you are in the process of “being saved” or experiencing the ongoing benefits in this life of being saved. You are becoming less controlled by sin’s power and more by Christ’s reign in your life. The Bible uses the concept of justification to speak of that initial work of God upon a man, while it uses the word sanctification to speak of the continuing work of God upon a man whom he has already saved from the penalty of sin. Both are indeed what it means to be “saved”. So, the Christian is at both times ‘saved’ from sin in one sense and ‘being saved’ from sin in another. The first requires no work – God does it alone, while the ongoing work of God in sanctification is a process that requires man to work for continued freedom from the bondage of sin. Both require dependence upon God’s power and provision in Christ, for you can do neither on your own.

LCBCC views everything we do in counseling and training as an extension of this process of sanctification as defined in the above statement. Any success is a direct result of God through Christ working in a person’s life and heart, learning how to depend on that work as they respond in obedient thoughts and actions. I encourage you to look up the verses mentioned in this article. Pray for God to speak to you as you meditate on them. Add to this effort a meeting with a mature Christian leader whose life reflects active participation in the process of sanctification and change. If you and God cooperate together in the process of change, you will be the next person to have a testimony of the glory of God’s power.

Beyond Behavior Modification & Cognitive Therapy

Author: Tim Bryant
October 21, 2015

Biblical transformation is more than behavior modification and more than just changing your “stinkin’ thinkin’ ”. It is about changing who or what is your God. I have found that the more I help people stand amazed at the mighty deeds and glorious characteristics of the God of the Bible, the more they are enabled by the Spirit of God to be motivated in a divine change that the world can not know. They are empowered to obey God’s Word by a faith that perseveres and by the new values that emerge from new understanding of God. This is true, satisfying, biblical transformation - it begins with what you think about God and how often you think of Him.

If you are interested in learning more about this type of change, please watch the following video. This is a three part series. You can watch the other three at the “Gaining a Transforming View of God” page. This teaching is, in my opinion, the most important distinction between secular counseling, and even much Christian counseling and what you will learn at LCBCC.

The Divine Perspective of Change: All Christian's Who Counsel

Author: Tim Bryant
October 01, 2015

2 Corinthians 3:18 states, “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.”

This verse is a glorious observation from the Apostle Paul on some glorious benefits the saints have received from through the New Covenant God has established with them in Christ. This verse states that we have been enabled by the Spirit to both behold more fully the glory of the Lord and to be more fully transformed into the likeness of that glory.

This benefit is far superior to that which the Old Testament saint had. The New Testament saint does not only have the God of all glory present and active around him, but by the ministry of the Spirit God is at work in him – transforming Him. According to this passage the Christian can “with unveiled face” behold the glory of God in Christ, and, thereby, most amazingly, be transformed by this beholding into the very likeness of that glory of God which He beholds. What remarkable change is possible for the saint of God in Christ because of the new potential he has to “with unveiled face” behold the Lord of glory. This thesis will seek to help believers make the most of this ability described in 2 Corinthians 3:18 in the transformation of their lives.

John MacArthur calls 2 Corinthians 3:18 his favorite verse of Scripture and here is why:

That verse illustrates to me the divine perspective of the process through which we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The theme of the verses is glory – and more than any verse I know of, it emphasizes the glorious nature of what Christ does for those of us who look to Him in faith. It shows how the glory of the Lord pervades the New Covenant in an even greater way than it did the Old, and it applies that truth to my life – and the life of every believer.”

I have had the privilege through the ministry of biblical counseling of seeing God graciously transform many minds, lives and marriages. It is from this perspective that I testify to the reality of what John MacArthur calls, "the divine perspective of change." When transformation occurs by the Spirit of God, it is preceded by deeper biblical comprehension of God by the Spirit of God in the heart and mind of the one whom has changed. As a result they behold His glory more fully thus empowering choice-changing affections, like a godly fear, trust and love. From God's divine perspective, change has come as a result a change in knowledge of God. In this verse the Spirit of God rolls back the current of eternity and allows us to see the “divine perspective on change”. Thus it is in this verse that we see what fundamentally biblical transformation is and how it occurs.

This Verse's Contribution to the Doctrine of Biblical Change

There are various verses in the New Testament scripture describing biblical change, each from various angles; as in the study of any doctrine so it is true in this one, that some verses overlap one another and differ from one another, but never contradict another. Each verse embellishes the concept further.

  •  The doctrine of biblical change is described in Ephesians 4:22-24 as having three components: putting off the old patterns of life, being renewed in the spirit of the mind, and putting on the new patterns of life reflective of Jesus Christ.
  • Romans 12:1-2 instructs change through commanding us to offer our bodies and renew our minds.
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 gives a four step process of change wherein the Word of God teaches, reproves, corrects, and then trains the man of God in righteous living.
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 gives us the “Divine Perspective.” It observes that the more a believe beholds the glory of the Lord, the more they will become like what they behold. It makes a believer’s concept of God central to his ability to change.

According to Ephesians 4:22-24, the old patterns of life are to be put off and the new patterns of life in Christ are to put on in the context of the renewed mind. Yet, it is clear based on 2 Corinthians 3:18 that it is the greater comprehension of God's glory that centrally renews the mind and motivate powerful changes in the habits of a person. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 gives instructs that biblical reproof and correction are necessary to change biblically. 2 Corinthians 3:18 would lead using clear and accurate concepts of God Himself to reprove and correct a Christian’s heart most effectively. To support these things I offer the following excerpts from “Knowing God” written by one of the greatest theologian of our day, J.I. Packard.

The Christians instincts of trust and worship are stimulated very powerfully by knowledge of the greatness of God But this is knowledge which Christians today largely lack: and that is one reason why our faith is so feeble and our worship so flabby. We are modern men, and modern men, though they cherish great thoughts of man, have as a general rule small thoughts of God.

Does this tremendous sense of His holy majesty, His moral perfection, and His gracious faithfulness keep us humble and dependent, awed and obedient, as it did Daniel? By this test, too, we may measure how much, or how little, we know of God. (pg. 25)

The invariable fruit of true knowledge of God is energy to pray for God’s cause – energy, indeed, which can only find an outlet and a relief of inner tension when channeled into such prayer – and the more knowledge, the more energy. By this we may test ourselves. (pg. 24)

It is fresh views of the Divine that characterize what centrally occurs in Divine change leading to a change from the inside-out. 2 Corinthians 3:18 makes this clear by stating that it is by beholding the glory of the Lord that the believer is transformed in that glory of the Lord. This verse makes clear that biblical transformation does not occur just by identifying (i.e. “beholding”) what sinful pattern is to be stopped and what righteous patterns started, nor by just more accurately viewing one’s self, others and or his circumstances. But rather it is more clear views of the Lord that will centrally effect our perspective of all these and promote divine changes in all of these things.

The discipline of beholding the glory of the Lord for the purpose of transformation into the Lord’s likeness should be a major distinction between those who counsel secularly and those who counsel as Christians. But sadly I believe it is a distinction that does not get due emphasis in much Christian counseling today. Fresh views of the glory of the Lord is the fundamental change that occurs in all true, divinely given, transformation of sinful man.

JI Packard writes:

But the Bible tells us that now, in fulfillment of His plan of redemption, God at work in the Christian believers to repair His ruined image by communicating these qualities (i.e. incommunicable and communicable attributes) to them fresh. This is what Scripture means when it says that Christians are being renewed in the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18) and of God (Col 3:10)” – (90)

John Owens, the Puritan, writes on the importance of beholding the glory of Christ:

I assert that one of the greatest benefits for a believer in this world and the next is to consider the glory of Christ (7) “…the things of this world will have less and less attraction for us until they become as undesirable as something dead .” (9) All wickedness and confusion among human beings come from this darkness, this ignorance of God” (13)

Let us assure ourselves there is no better way for our healing and deliverance, yea, no other way but this alone, namely, the obtaining a fresh view of the glory of Christ by faith, and a steady abiding therein. Constant contemplation of Christ and his glory, putting forth its transforming power unto the revival of all grace, is the only relief.

To support this further I offer excepts from A.W. Tozer’s book “The Knowledge of the Holy” in his first chapter entitled, “Why We Must Think Rightly of God”.

What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes to your mind when you think about God?” We might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God that idolatry. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is – in itself is a monstrous sin. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. Before the Christian church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?” and goes on from there. The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until once more worthy of Him. In all her prayers and labors this should have first place.

As the Christian continues behold the Lord of glory, gaining a more correct view of God, he is able to be powerfully confronted and motivated to change sinful behavioral patterns and replace them. Thus beholding the glory of the Lord, I will argue, is the divine perspective of change, it is what essentially changes in a person if they are changing biblically. It is of central importance in the transformation of lives. Thus, I want to encourage counselors of Scripture, as much as possible, to aim to correct faulty notions of the Lord in the minds and establish fresh views of His glory for those we counsel; and to do so, not merely as a part of the work but as the very foundation from which we instruct, reprove and correct people in putting off sinful patterns in life and putting on biblical patterns of living.