Are you ready to look in the mirror? It is a benefit of the Word of God that can be a life-saver for us—helping us to make needed changes and course corrections. But, as always, there are specific steps we must take to put this benefit into practice. And that is what this Teaching Letter is all about.
In James 1:21–25, we read about the work of God’s Word in us and how we are to receive it:
“Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. [So we have to receive the Word as something implanted in our souls, which is able to bring us salvation. But then James warns us that we have to act on what the Word says.] But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; For once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”
We see two mandates in the passage. Clearly, when God’s Word comes to us, there are two obligations we must fulfill: we must receive it with humility, and we must act on what it says. In emphasizing these two important steps, James uses the example of a mirror. He says that when we read the Word of God and are confronted by its truths, the Word is like a mirror held up in front of our eyes. It shows us what we are really like. The mirror of God’s Word does not show us our external features, but rather it shows us our inward nature and character.
What should we do when the Bible shows us that which is wrong in our lives, that which needs cleansing, adjusting or setting in order? I would suggest to you there are three actions we need to take. First, we must receive God’s revelation and not argue with it. We must say, “That is right. That is what I am really like.” Second, we must believe in God’s promises—promises which always come with His revelations. And third, by faith, we appropriate God’s provision.
If we are willing to take these three simple steps, a wonderful change will come about in us. We will not merely see in the mirror of God’s Word what we are like in our sinful condition without Christ. Rather, we will begin to see what we are in Christ. The Word will show us the wonderful inner transformation that has taken place within us. When that happens, we will begin to experience the truth expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV)
What we will begin to see in the mirror is the new person we truly are in Christ. As a continuation of this truth, we read further on in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“God made Him who knew no sin [that’s Jesus]to be sin for us, so that in Him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.” (NIV)
Here is the significance of these two verses. Once we are in Christ, when we look in the mirror, we no longer see ourselves in our sinful condition. Instead, we see ourselves with the righteousness of God through faith in Christ imputed to us. As Isaiah 61:10 expresses this truth:
“I delight greatly in the LORD: my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (NIV)
What Isaiah describes here is what the mirror shows us when we are in Christ. No longer do we see the dirty rags of our own self-righteousness, from even the best of our own achievements, cleverness or intellectual ability. Instead, we see ourselves attired in completely different clothing. We see ourselves wearing a garment of salvation and a robe of righteousness. We see ourselves clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and we begin to see God imparting to us spiritual grace and spiritual beauty.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, we see another beautiful passage about the mirror of the Word.
“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 passage describes an ongoing transformation that is taking place in our lives. All the time that we are looking into the mirror of God’s Word in an attitude of openness to the Holy Spirit, that same Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of what we are looking at.
We glimpse Jesus, and as the Holy Spirit moves in our hearts, we become like Jesus in that particular respect. We then look back into the mirror; get a new glimpse of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit changes us in that respect also.
The more we gaze into the mirror of God’s Word, the more we behold the glory of the Lord revealed in that mirror. The more we behold the glory of Jesus, the more we are transformed into it by the Holy Spirit.
However, we must bear in mind one important fact. It is only while we are looking in the mirror of God’s Word that the Spirit transforms us. When we take our eyes away from the mirror—when we turn to human wisdom, human theories or even human theology—the Holy Spirit can no longer work in us.
The Holy Spirit operates when we look at the Word of God in faith. He operates in us as we allow the Word to reveal to us what God wants us to be and what we can become in Christ. When we do this, we are continually transformed from glory to glory. The Spirit of God moves and works upon our hearts and in our lives, making us into the likeness of what we have seen in the mirror of the Word.
It is very likely as you have been reading the truths of this teaching that a longing is starting to grow in your heart. Something inside of you is saying, “That’s what I want to happen to me! I want a different image of myself.”
Would you like to ask the Lord right now to help you make a change in your approach? If that is your desire, please pray the following words with me.
Lord, I want to put Your mirror—the Word of God—to work in my life. I commit myself now to examine Your Word and to allow Your Word to examine me. As I see what needs to be changed and adjusted, I will receive Your assessment and take the appropriate actions. I will receive it, and not argue—agreeing with what You show me. I will receive Your promises, and appropriate Your provision for me.
Thank You, Lord—that Your plan is to change me by Your Word and through the power of Your Holy Spirit. As I see who I truly am through Jesus, I long to be transformed into His glorious image. Thank You, Lord—for making this possible in my life through the mirror of Your Word, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.