Putting Sin to Death by Beholding Glory

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2Cor 3.18).

Listening to a rather enlightening sermon this weekend, I came to the realization that in my personal warring against the deeds of my flesh by the Spirit (cf. Rm. 8:17), I have been praying for the wrong things and searching for the wrong remedies. And though it is indeed comforting that in spite of my ignorance of how I ought to pray that the Spirit of God intercedes for me with groanings that accord with the will of God (cf. Rm. 8:26, 27), it is nevertheless wonderful and helpful when the Spirit shares his groanings with me either through his Word or through expositors of it.

My wrong prayer essentially was this: “Lord, make that which I desire in my flesh undesirable to me.” Looking back upon that request (which I have made many times in my young life), it is a very weak request. It essentially asks for something unnatural to happen in me that takes away my desires for fleshly things and requests nothing to fill their place. If such a request were granted to me, I would be devoid of those fleshly desires and would naturally and eventually return to them. For humans are by nature passionate creatures, and removing one desire and not replacing it is not an option. Men must desire.

Instead, I should have prayed this way: “Lord, show me your glory.” For it is in the beholding of the glory of God that we are changed from one degree of glory to another and thus conformed to image of Christ (cf. 2Cor. 3:18), and it is in the beholding the glory of God that we put to death the deeds of the body, for when we behold the glory of God, that which we desire in the flesh becomes petty and trite in comparison. And this is done by the Spirit. Therefore, that which is declared in Roman 8:13, expressly, “If you, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the body,” is clarified by 2 Corinthians 3:18, “For this (i.e. the beholding of the glory of God) comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. For this reason, if we are to have any victory over our flesh, we must by the Spirit behold the glory of God.

Therefore, from this point forward my prayer shall be that Moses: “Lord, show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18).



Categories: Theology

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4 replies

  1. Matthew,

    While I certainly don't know your own personal experience with these prayers, allow me to speak generally. It would appear both would be appropriate, and in fact, when prayed together, they truly reflect the Christian's position. On the one hand, we ought to hate the undesirable sins of our flesh. We should pray that God would help us put to death the old man. While at the same time, we do need to turn towards God, in our newness of life, and bask in His great glory. The reoccurring theme is one of both repentance and faith. Hatred of sin and love of God. Both of these equally reflect a good understanding of what it means to be a servant of the Lord. SoO I would not necessarily give up on your former prayer – just add the second one to it! It would look something like this:

    “Lord, make that which I desire in my flesh undesirable to me, and, Lord, show me your glory”.

    Blessings.

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  2. Perhaps so. Though if God were to grant the request to show his glory, then the desires of the flesh would naturally become undesirable. As the old hymn puts, "The things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace."

    Thanks again, friend. Grace and peace.

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  3. It's just food for thought. I know my own prayer life has developed over the years as I ask God to reveal my sins to me that I might repent of them and then petition Him as well to grant me the grace to turn towards Him to see Him in His glory. May the Lord guide you Matthew, in these things as you seek to serve Him!

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  4. And much appreciated food for thought. Godly wisdom is a wonderful gift, and I thank you for sharing that which God has given you.

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