Beholding the True Image
Transformed through Beholding Jesus by Faith: Lesson 8
In Lesson 7, Recognize and Replace!, we saw that the first step out of a stronghold depends upon recognition of sin and the second involves our willingness to take full responsibility for the sin we recognize. Both of these steps are directly impacted by the images that we carry in our heart of hearts.
If we "see" that our true self looks like Jesus (His nature now in us as our new nature), then we will be able to discern that anything in us that doesn't look like Jesus must be coming from sin - not our true self. But we won't be able to see what God may want to show us or be willing to take much responsibility for sin that is in us if we are carrying a distorted image of the Father, making us want to run and hide from God in shame as Adam did.[i]
In this lesson we will look into the all-important place that image-bearing holds for us. Then in the following two lessons we will study first our own image (Our New Identity) and then the Image of God the Father (The Father's Heart of Love), as they are both now being restored to us through the revelation of Jesus Christ, the God-Man.
The Power of Beholding
Since our hearts have "eyes," we need to learn how to keep our inward focus on the Lord.[ii] We have been warned, therefore, to be careful what we
behold, because we inevitably become like what we behold.
Consider the transformation that takes place on the countenance of women when they see a baby or on the faces of children when they watch a fireworks display. Now, recall how most folks look when they are worried about a problem: quite a difference! What gets our attention "gets us." As it gets us, it transforms us, thus the power of beholding.
For this reason Israel was forbidden to create images to depict God, the second of the Ten Commandments.[iii] Since, no created image can do justice to the true Image of the Creator, God didn't want His children beholding and thereby becoming like any false image of Him. They were specifically warned against bowing down to (worshipping) and serving false images.[iv]
Worship, which means "to ascribe worth to," and service are intimately connected for we will serve throughout the day what our hearts are focused upon.[v] By "bearing" (or carrying deep within) what we behold, we then begin "birthing" that image into life - by our thoughts, words and deeds. We actually become like what we are worshipping - what we are focusing upon. We are made over into the image we bear in our heart of hearts; this applies both to the Image of God and to the image of man.
Any distortion of either image will hinder our walk and deplete our joy because emotions always tend to match up with what has our focus. Fortunately, we can get our emotions released by putting our focus back where it belongs - on the Lord. Beholding Jesus by faith powerfully transforms us, if our focus has genuinely shifted back to Him from whatever had previously been capturing our attention.
Just imagine how quickly your emotions would change if Jesus visibly showed up. Now, realize that by faith you can "see" Him at any time your believing matches your level of need - and get an emotional shift. Psychologists call the speed by which emotions shift when focus shifts, the "cascade effect."[vi] Let it work for you! You get to choose to believe, see and be transformed - if you want to.
Beholding is Key to Our Transformation
The awesome power of beholding is what the Father is using to save and transform the world. Consider the following fourfold series of revelations designed to completely transform us. What changes us all along the way is not our work - our righteousness - but the grace of looking to Jesus and seeing in Him the answer to everything that is dark or needy in us. Let these truths propel you into a lifetime adventure of "getting the look that gives the shift."
1) Beholding Initiates Life
The revelation of Jesus Christ brings us into the Christian life. By the Fall we lost the capacity to behold our God. We became spiritually blind as our hearts were veiled.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-5 ESV
With salvation we now behold Him with eyes of faith - as Jesus our Savior is revealed to us. This revelation ushers in the new birth.
He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 16:15-17 ESV
But when he... was pleased to reveal his Son to me. Galatians 1:15-16 ESV
But I received it [his conversion] through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:12 ESV
2) Beholding Saves and Sustains
The revelation of Jesus Christ saves us and sustains us. We cannot live the Christian life in our own strength - looking to ourselves for the righteousness, wisdom, abilities or saving power we need. Calling upon the Lord in prayer is God's way of training us in beholding Jesus by faith, rather than some lesser source of help or hope, such as Self or others. We learn to look to Jesus every step of the way, seeking to see in Him something that we need to see in each moment of our need.
Do you need forgiveness? Look to Jesus. Do you need wisdom? Look to Jesus. Do you need someone to carry your burdens? Look to Jesus. And keep looking until the concern is lifted. Faith looks through the veil and sees Him as He really is. Then believing becomes restored trust, and once restored, trust can become renewed obedience.[vii]
Look to me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. Isaiah 45:22 WEB
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
3) Beholding Transforms and Sanctifies
The revelation of Jesus Christ transforms us in this life.[viii] When we behold Him (even dimly) by faith, we bear His Image and begin to become like Him. The new nature which is Christ in us, or the life of the Spirit in us, comes to life whenever we look to Jesus and see something in Him that lets us surrender everything to Him. Until this happens and our trust and obedience are flowing freely again, we are still caught up in trying to live our lives our way.
"Let go and let God" have His way and watch new life begin to flow. Whenever this happens, we are no longer "hanging in there" trying in our own strength to live the Christian life, we have surrendered, become transformed and the Holy Spirit is lifting us and carrying us. We have passed from "crucifixion" with Christ into resurrection.[ix] Jesus begins living through us! This is the Spirit's work of raising us into the new life of grace whenever we get our focus and our faith restored.
Jesus' life comes into us when we are born again (as inward sight is given); His life flows out through us at any moment when we surrender everything to Him (as inward sight is restored). When we look to Him, we walk in the light whenever we see in Him something that enables us to trust and surrender. The old nature is laid to rest like a shadow behind us and we are released to walk by His Spirit.[x] That newer, better, more loving version of you comes forth and breathes the sweet air of freedom.
This is the graceful transformation of our lives from the inside out which no work of the flesh can accomplish.[xi] Religious practices and moral striving don't accomplish this - or we would have something to boast about.[xii] The Spirit does it all - as we behold Jesus.
But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 WEB
And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:10 ESV
4) Beholding Glorifies
The revelation of Jesus Christ will complete our transformation in heaven. God will not have to change what he has already been doing to bring forth our new life there. In heaven sight will replace faith as the veil of time and space is forever lifted. We will clearly behold Jesus and instantly become just like Him! We will see Jesus in all His matchless glory and that will bring the new life in us fully into being. Our ultimate glorification flows out of the power released by fully beholding our glorious Lord.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. Psalm 17:15 ESV
Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appearswe shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2 ESV
Let us praise God for the power of beholding Jesus. Looking to Him we are saved "to the uttermost."[xiii] We call this pattern of losing spiritual sight and regaining it: "Eyes off? EYES ON!" Learn to "get the look that gives the shift" - and keep getting it!
Let Beholding Grow You By Its Power
Even the five vital requirements for growth listed below do not automatically transform us. Every Christian needs to be actively cultivating all five of these God-given means of staying connected to Jesus, our Living Vine. Even so, we would be wise to understand that they are not foolproof or automatic ways of becoming like Christ.
These necessary, very wholesome, elements of our discipleship can actually be used by the enemy to draw us away from our place of surrender into pride, complacency and self-righteousness. We can do these as ritual or routine - but beholding Jesus through them is what transforms us.
1) Bible study: The Pharisees knew the scriptures, but many couldn't recognize Him.
2) Prayer: The publican prayed even longer than the sinner, but left unchanged.
3) Worship: Lucifer led worship, but got his eyes on himself instead of Jesus.
4) Fellowship: Can be superficial or supernatural. Are you being honest, open, transparent?
5) Service: Can easily become a work of the flesh. We serve in Him, by Him and unto Him, not to meet our own needs.
Repent of and renounce any of the ways that these five disciplines may be building self-righteousness in you. Instead, seek to use each discipline as a way of making sure your inner focus is upon the Lord. Your peace and joy levels should be going up as you practice them, indicating that you are connecting with His grace and truth. Then pray for God to help you learn to guard the Image of God inside your heart that is being renewed within you.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23 WEB
The Way of Restoration
Being restored to the life God intends for us to live depends upon recognizing when our inward focus has shifted away from beholding by faith the One whose image we were created to bear.
1) The first step of restoration is receiving a living faith in Jesus Christ - all else depends upon that!
2) The next step is to take full responsibility for having built one's life around trusting and obeying Self, instead of Jesus: Repent and renounce all desire to live in rebellion, un-surrendered and un-submitted to His leadership. Let His peace fill your heart!
3) Turn to the Father and release gratitude for the grace-filled way He has of transforming us through beholding His Son!
Father, I renounce trying to change myself by my own efforts. Only by beholding Jesus am I actually transformed. Make me aware of those times when my heart turns away from beholding Him. Help me cast down all false images of myself, of others and of You. By Your grace make me willing to be made willing to surrender everything to You.
Take It to Heart!Don't just give these truths a 'head bob'! For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see Beholding the True Image part 2 (Head to Heart Guide 8) and 'work out' with exercises, discussion questions, review of main points, digging deeper, more scriptures, model prayers, renunciations/affirmations and practical steps of life application.
Scriptures and Foot Notes
[i] Genesis 3:10
[ii] Matthew 6:22-23; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 1:18
[iii] Deuteronomy 4:15-18
Exodus 20:4-5Matthew 6:24"Cascade effect" concept is from a Lance Wallnau teaching, LanceLearning message on CD.Isaiah 51:1; Micah 7:7
Mike Bickle, "Transformation by Beholding Jesus" International House of Prayer (IHOP), Kansas City, MO, cassette teachings.
[ix] Galatians 2:20
[x] Romans 8:1-4
[xi] John 6:63
[xii] Ephesians 2:9
[xiii] Hebrews 7:25