What does it mean to behold the Lord’s glory? Paul wrote, “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 by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV). Paul is speaking here of devoted, focused worship. It’s time that’s given to God simply to behold him, and the apostle quickly adds, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1). Paul makes it clear that beholding the face of Christ is a ministry we all must devote ourselves to.
The Greek word for beholding in this verse is a very strong expression. It indicates not just taking a look but “fixing the gaze.” It means deciding “I won’t move from this position. Before I do anything else, before I try to accomplish a single thing, I must be in God’s presence.” We’re to “fix our eyes” this way, determined to see God’s glory in the face of Christ. We’re to shut ourselves in the Holy of Holies with one obsession: to gaze so intently and to commune with such devotion that we’re changed.
The Greek word for changed here is “metamorphosed,” meaning “changed, transformed, transfigured.” Everyone who goes often into the Holy of Holies and fixes his gaze intently on Christ is being metamorphosed. A transfiguration is taking place. That person is continually being changed into the likeness and character of Jesus.
Maybe you come often into the Lord’s presence, yet you may not feel yourself changing as you spend time shut in with him. I tell you that you can know a metamorphosis is taking place. Something is surely happening because no one can continually behold the glory of Christ without being transformed.
Note the preceding verse in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “The Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Do you see what Paul is saying here? He’s telling us, “When you’re beholding the face of Christ, there is freedom to be changed.” By being in his presence, we give the Spirit liberty to govern our lives, to do with us as he would. It’s an act of submission that says, “Lord, my will is yours. Whatever it takes, transform me into the image of Jesus.”