The dynamics of personal transformation in 2 Corinthians 3:18 assume that we are changed into what we admire and fix our attention on. ‘Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image.’ We know this is so from experience. Long looking with admiration produces change. From your heroes you pick up mannerisms and phrases and tones of voice and facial expressions and habits and demeanors and convictions and beliefs. The more admirable the hero is and the more intense your admiration is, the more profound will be your transformation. In the case of Jesus, he is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship. Therefore, when we behold him as we should, the change is profound. Of course, there is more to it than that. The reflexes of imitation are not the whole story of how we change. Part of what we pick up in looking at Jesus in the gospel is a way of viewing the whole world. That worldview informs all our values and deeply shapes our thinking and decision-making. Another part of what we absorb is greater confidence in Jesus’ counsel and his promises. this has its own powerful effect on what we fear and desire and choose. Another part of what we take up from beholding the glory of Christ is greater delight in his fellowship and deeper longing to see him in heaven. This has its own liberating effect from the temptations of this world. All these have their own peculiar way of changing us into the likeness of Christ. Therefore, we should not think that pursuing likeness to Christ has no other components than just looking at Jesus. Looking at Jesus produces holiness along many different paths.
– John Piper from God is the Gospel
A little over a month or so ago I wrote this blogpost. In it I asked the question “If you don’t delight in God now or express praise to God now or enjoy God now why do you want to go to heaven where you will be doing that for eternity?” Well today I finished reading The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung and he makes a very similar point about holiness and heaven:
Because God’s new world is free from every strain or hint of sin, it’s hard to imagine how we could enjoy heaven without holiness. As J.C. Ryle reminds us, heaven is a holy place. The Lord of heaven is a holy God. The angels are holy creatures. The inhabitants are holy saints. Holiness is written on everything in heaven. And nothing unholy can enter into this heaven (Rev. 21:27; Heb. 12:14). Even if you could enter heaven without holiness, what would you do? What joy would you feel there? What holy man or woman of God would you sit down with for fellowship? Their pleasures are not your pleasures. Their character is not your character. What they love, you do not love. If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with him forever? If worship does not capture your attention at present, what makes you think it will thrill you in some heavenly future? If ungodliness is your delight here on earth, what will please you in heaven, where all is clean and pure? You would not be happy there if you are not holy here. Or as Spurgeon put it, ‘Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise.’
The overall point of both the previous post I mentioned and this one is not to discourage you from wanting to go to heaven but a wake up call to help you realize above all else that heaven is not your default destination. Instead, it is hell. If God is not your delight here and now he will not be your delight in eternity. If you are not holy here and now then heaven is not your future home! The Bible says in Hebrews 12:14 – “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” I urge you to recognize that heaven is an entirely holy place and it is only those who have repented of their unrighteousness and been clothed with the holiness of Christ that will dwell there forever. How can you be clothed with the righteousness of Christ? The good news is that though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, the righteousness of God is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe and that freely by his grace. Won’t you then believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from sin and God’s wrath and be set free to live to the praise and glory of God?
Here is the audio and manuscript for my message on Sunday morning:
Big Idea: The certainty of our future resurrection in Christ should compel us to risk everything.